“You can’t even look a me?” Shiroi had grown tired of the silence. Maefyl had chatted quietly with Lilith at first, but eventually just closed his eyes as Lilith brushed his hair. All of the fairies glared at Shiroi like she was some kind of monster when she spoke.
“I see you still listen well.” Sanguine stared daggers at Shiroi. “You don’t get to bother Maefyl anymore.”
“Did you know?” Shiroi ignored Sanguine’s insult and sobbed as he just lit a cigarette and turned his head. “Answer me! Did you know?”
“No one knew.” Lilith answered on his behalf. “You have both been asked by your Masters not to speak to each other.”
“You made your decision.” Sanguine added. “Live with it. I’m not going to let you hurt him anymore.”
“You’re going to get me in trouble, Sany.” Maefyl nudged her with his finger. “Just leave her alone. You don’t have to try and drive her off, she is happy where she is.”
“Maefyl…” Shiroi cried in her hands. “I’m so sorry.”
“Damn it.” Maefyl moved to try and comfort her and Lilith pulled him back by his hair. “Then you go hug her or something. I hate it when she cries.”
Lilith did as he asked and embraced Shiroi.
Maefyl pulled back his hair and just tried to avoid looking in their direction. He could have been kinder with his words, but there had been enough of her thoughts running through his head to cloud his judgment and make him angry. He was surprised he was staying as calm at all and attributed it to the efforts he had to make to keep his head clear. He still cared about Shiroi, he always would, but any romantic feeling died when her ring slid across his desk under Lucifer’s fingers. It was not a feeling that should have ever existed; maybe that’s why it had been so easy to let go.
Shiroi was still clinging fondly to happier moments and mourning the loss of them. She was madly in love with her new Masters, but she couldn’t just ignore the time she had spent with Maefyl. While he was focusing on all the troubles to see the logic on parting ways, Shiroi thought of tenderness and warm embraces. She hoped for some small chance to reconnect as friends, a second chance as the family they were meant to be.
The conflicting thoughts made Maefyl’s head ache and was almost thankful for the distraction of newly arriving guests. Almost. Lucifer’s ghosts had delivered Asura, the entire Circle of Golod and Fukushu in humanoid form to the throne room and Maefyl was curious as to why.
“Well that was different.” Asura flopped down on Maefyl to hug him as soon as the oddly formal doubles of Lucifer disappeared. “What’s going on?”
“Wish I could tell you.” Maefyl waved to the others. “I’m just here fairy sitting. He didn’t say anything to you?”
“Just that our presence was requested.” Nikolai held Azazel beside him as he purred over the accent revealed in his anxiety. “His doubles answer less questions than he does.”
“Fukushu?” Maefyl hoped the ghosts had been more candid with Itami’s guardian.
“I was given the same message.” Fukushu answered regretfully. “I hope this will not take long, Nikumu was not entirely happy that I was asked to leave alone.”
“It should not take long at all Fukushu.” Lucifer emerged from the council hall and assured her she would be able to return to her natural form quickly. “Some of you will be joining us. In the interest of time, I give you my word there is no danger or threat, don’t pester me with questions. Just go inside quietly. Azazel, if you would be so kind as to look after my tiny guests, Bezer do something to stop my daughters whimpering. Fukushu, Lilith, Maefyl, Sanguine, Asura and Nikolai. Inside please.”
Lucifer closed the doors behind them and settled back in his seat, smiling as they nervously waited for answers.
“Spill it, King Arthur.” Maefyl mocked Lucifer for his place at the head of the long table with six places along either side. Zakesalek filled the six seats to his right leaving six empty to his left. Maefyl finished his cigarette and flicked it toward Lucifer letting it fall to dust before it reached him. “We getting knighted?”
“Each of you has been chosen by one of the Six to sit on this Council with them.” Lucifer watched their quiet reactions as he explained the rules, he reiterated what he told the others and clarified a few details of what would be expected. “If you accept their offers, you are to be part of a new ruling class that will see to every realm. Some of you understand the implications of that, others will need to rely on your shadows for guidance. Do you accept?”
“That’s not a fair question.” Asura pointed out boldly. “You threw out a whole lot of details, but skipped a few important ones. If we are going to be putting our lives in the hands of these shadows, you can’t ask us to accept before we know who chose who.”
“Clever girl.” Lucifer smiled. “Care to make a guess regarding where you should each be sitting?”
“I’m just going to sit.” Maefyl took his place across from Gabriel and winked at him. “That’s one piece of your puzzle solved.”
“That’s the easy one.” Asura sighed. The six Watchers at the table remained quiet, but with the exception of Raziel they each smiled in approval of her effort to be reasonable. She knew very little of some of them and looked them over trying to put together the pieces. “I can figure this out.”
“Do it swiftly.” Lucifer laughed at her sweet determined smile. “The clock is ticking.”
“I love a challenge.” Asura grinned.
“Me first!” Sanguine fluttered over and Asura offered her palm for her as she walked down the table. “Who picked me?”
“That one is pretty easy too.” Asura walked to the last chair and sat Sanguine on the table across from Raziel. “Right?”
Raziel nodded, impressed with her deductions so far and Lucifer slid a computer down the table.
“Do you accept, Sanguine?” Lucifer asked as the fairy stopped the tablet with her foot.
“That’s Lady Sanguine!” Sanguine laughed maniacally then sat on the screen giggling. “Yea, sure.”
“Uncle Eidolon.” Asura stopped at the empty chair in front of him. “You picked Lilith.”
“I did.” Eidolon gestured for Lilith to join him, knowing she could never refuse a place at her Master’s table. “You’re doing well, Asura.”
“I’m flattered, Eidolon.” Lilith sat across from him and accepted her place.
“I’ll see to your computer later, my love.” Lucifer smiled down the table at her.
“Yikes.” Asura instantly realized where the others belonged and who had chosen her. She stopped in front of Azrael. “You wouldn’t pick a vampire or another demon. So Fukushu?”
“Tek.” Azrael nodded. “Supaskana fetnakalu.”
“No idea what you just said.” Asura smiled and stepped in front of Samael. “Which means you chose Nikolai.”
“And he chose quite the bride.” Samael smiled.
“Thank you.” Asura sighed and stepped in front of Kage. “Which leaves you. Why would you pick me?”
“I admire a mind as clever as mine.” Kage grinned. “Sit.”
“You can say no.” Maefyl sighed. “If you don’t trust him, walk out.”
“Do you trust him?” Asura watched Fukushu take her place across from Azrael they nodded silently to each other. She looked at Nikolai as he stood behind his intended seat looking troubled. “I know you don’t, Master Nikolai.”
“I assume my place as your Master is not welcome in this decision, my pet.” Nikolai stroked her arm with his finger as he looked at Samael. “And I have my own decision to make.”
“I would hope it isn’t too difficult.” Samael rocked back on his chair. “This trust goes both ways. I am not just asking you to put your life in my hands, I’m trusting you with my own.”
“Quite the risk considering Nikolai’s inability to keep his mouth shut.” Kage sneered. “You should be honored, Halfling.”
“He’s doing a better job of keeping his trap shut than you at the moment.” Maefyl looked up at Asura. “I don’t want to push your decision in either direction, I generally tried to keep you away from things like this. Kage makes valid points though and you are more than capable. And yes, I trust him.”
“Dad?” Asura ran over to Gabriel and kneeled beside his chair. “Can I even do this? I’m not like anyone here.”
“Which is part of the reason Kage asked for you.” Gabriel smiled at her and kissed her head. He was not happy about burdening her with a place on this Council but she did bring an outlook to the table that would be of benefit, and the immunity her place would give her from Zakesalek was no small comfort. “You will do as well at this as you do at every other task you undertake.”
“Okay.” Asura stood and turned to Kage. “But you have to give me hug and start helping with my practice.”
“Agreed.” Kage stood and let her initiate an embrace he was sure made Nikolai’s skin crawl. He held her only a moment before he patted her back and pushed her back by her arms.
“Did you always have these?” Asura grabbed his arms as he pulled away. She had never seen him out of his very formal suit. The black dress shirt he wore now had its sleeve folded and left his forearms exposed. Coiled around them looked like the tails of snakes.
“No.” Kage gently pushed her hands from his arms. “I will explain them later if you would please take your seat.”
“Just waiting on you, Nikolai.” Lucifer was glad to see Asura take a place among them. He had already been favoring her and grooming her for greatness.
“I already regret this.” Nikolai took his place and Samael smiled at him.
“De haka Welak Isa.” Azrael pouted at Samael. “Deseka dosa?”
“Palak, Azrael.” Samael wanted to ensure they could keep her at their side in the future. “Lucifer, you’ve seated your Council. I request the right to keep our bride present.”
“Granted, but the right extends to all of you. Unless the matters to be discussed require discretion you may bring your trusted companions. But don’t abuse the privilege.” Lucifer had already tolerated most of them in Circle business, but felt the need to keep this Council more dignified and disciplined. “They are to be kept silent. They don’t speak unless spoken to. They do not have a voice on this Council and if they become a problem for the others, the right will be revoked. If they become a problem for me, their lives will be revoked.”
“Understood.” Samael grinned at Maefyl. “I also have a question for you. You have developed the Keeper’s talents?”
“Yea.” Maefyl was troubled by the interest. He had hoped his skills would not become the topic of conversation, but there was little point in lying when he knew they could sense the power in him. “Why?”
“Will you grant me some of your time?” Samael’s smile widened as he spoke. “Alone. I have a few things I would like to discuss with you.
“I won’t promise you answers.” Maefyl agreed reluctantly. Their agreement to sit on Lucifer’s Council of Lords should spare him any major problems with the Wyrms, but he did not trust Samael to honor that agreement. “But we can talk.”
“Later.” Lucifer put a temporary end to further questions to end his part in the days gathering. “This room will always be open to each of you. When it’s needed we will all gather, but I see no point in scheduling such meetings as most of you have other responsibilities and the work involved with the power you’ve been given will find its way to you. My ghosts are spreading word of your positions, the twelve of you are now Lords of Tsuriai. Enjoy the hate mail. This kind of power is not always well received, but those of you that have served on the Circles have dealt with it before. I suggest you spend time with each other, in particular with your shadows. I however have had my fill of most of you for the day. Eidolon, if you do not have need of Lilith at the moment…”
“We have worked together before.” Eidolon gave his nod of consent and Lucifer left the room with Lilith before he could say anything further.
“I’m going to go get Gory.” Sanguine fluttered off. “This is going to be so awesome. I get to rule the world!”
“She’s going to be impossible now.” Maefyl laughed.
“Would you bring the others, Sanguine?” Samael made his charming request and turned in his chair to dote on Azrael. Sanguine was quick to return with Azazel and the other fairies and Bezer followed them inside, pulling Shiroi by the hand. Samael beckoned her to join them. “Vade, Shiroi.”
“Is everything okay now?” Shiroi let Azrael pull her into his lap. “No more threats?”
“Sek sesa shepi zekusi’tach.” Azrael glared across the table at Maefyl as he rubbed at Shiroi’s cheeks. “Kasu?”
“It wasn’t his fault.” Shiroi buried her face in Azrael’s silver hair as she whimpered against his shoulder. “He wouldn’t talk to me.”
“Meaning you talked to him as I asked you not to.” Samael stroked her hair as he stood. “I would like that moment alone now, Maefyl.”
“Kaleka Samael, please don’t hurt him.” Shiroi cried and he gently tugged her head back by her hair and leaned to kiss her.
“Devana, Welak Isa.” Azrael stroked her throat until Samael left her quieted by his kiss.
“Vade’tach?” Maefyl waited by the door for Samael. When Samael walked past him he followed and let the doors close behind them.
“Kasuga saba sekni Zakesel?” Samael asked as he narrowed his gaze. The smile he had kept through their meeting turned sinister and cruel.
“Piss poor.” Maefyl admitted his understanding of Zakesel was limited. “I should be able to catch most of it though. What do you want?”
“Sek sesa har gaseka?” Samael glared at him impatiently. “De sesa kresuni.”
“Her thoughts are hers, Samael.” Maefyl sighed. This was what Raziel had dealt with throughout his entire existence. Everyone wanting to dive into the sea of knowledge inside him. Samael wanted his brides thoughts and Maefyl imagined he would be the first of many to ask for the favor. “Ask her if you have questions.”
“Andalaki de, fetnakalu!” Samael grabbed Maefyl by his throat. “Dana Welak Isa stava haka sek?”
“That’s what has your tail in a twist?” Maefyl laughed. Feared, vilified, revered and made near legendary by their kin; but the Wyrms were insecure and fearful of losing what they had captured. “You think she still wants me? Ha kosh sek, Samael. Ha saba helsek. The only thing Shiroi wants from me is an apology and a chance to be what we should have been. The apology she can have, but right now I can’t deal with the rest.”
“En sek?” Samael lifted Maefyl by the neck and slammed him back against the wall.
“She’s all yours.” Maefyl scowled at him. “Good luck.”
“Isa mave kresuni.” Samael dropped Maefyl to his feet. “Were you her only lover?”
“No.” Maefyl scowled at the ground. “You can ask her about it yourself, I’m not having that discussion with you. Just give her a break about wanting to talk to me. It’s just the way she is. She loves to talk.”
“You still care for her.” Samael dropped his gaze and considered the place in her heart that would always beat for Maefyl. “In time I may let…”
“Yes, I care.” Maefyl cut him off. “But I’m not ready to play brother, I just can’t deal with it yet. I don’t think she can either. You probably did us both a favor.”
“So quick to write her off.” Samael took Maefyl’s wrists and pushed them to the wall above him. Samael soaked in Maefyl’s panic at the sudden attack; he held his wrists together above him and slowly ran his hand down his neck and chest. “Had we not found Welak Isa alone, it would have been you in our bed.”
“The two of you were that desperate for a taste of Gabriel?” Maefyl only let the cold fingers make it past his ribs before he drew on strength he was uncertain he even possessed and turned the tables on Samael. He pushed the white skinned Watcher against the wall and held him there with his arm across his throat. “You assume you could take me.”
“Sek haka na bali, fetnakalu?” Samael’s wicked grin became wild and malicious as his wings spread against the wall and his fingers lengthened into claws that he buried into Maefyl’s sides, slipping sharp talons between his ribs. “De shent vak sek en kabak IsaAnku sula sek shusha.”
“Our leftovers not enough for you?” Maefyl drew his blades and spread his wings to force himself away and into flight.
“OUR?!” Samael shouted and lunged after him blindly.
“Getting a little taste of Gabriel after all.” Maefyl dodged away and kicked Samael across the face when he came at him. “Good isn’t he?”
“Maefyl, stop this.” Gabriel had grown concerned with their absence and stepped out to see them fighting. He quickly shifted behind Maefyl and brought him to the floor. “We’re not to fight amongst ourselves and this is just pointless.”
“Saba se supani, IsaAnku?” Samael landed in front of them as Maefyl reclaimed his blades. “Sek sesa shepi hala det Welak Isa?”
“Tek, Samael. En de kowensi se.” Gabriel answered sadly as he held Maefyl beside him. “Se seta akavevak, bol kosh. It was at her request and Lucifer’s order. I did not enjoy it.”
“Dana ha?” Samael glared at him.
“Tek, Samael.” Gabriel explained. “It was my task to make certain she did. Don’t hold it against her or me. She belongs entirely to you and Azrael. There is no point in fighting over what you have already won. Accept your victory and enjoy your bride.”
“Kono, Maefyl.” Samael offered his hand and smiled as he retracted his wings. He let a single thought slip to the surface for the second keeper as Maefyl accepted his apology. ‘This is not over, fetnakalu.’
Samael went back inside and Maefyl healed the remaining wounds in his side.
“Who started that?” Gabriel pulled Maefyl to him.
“Not that it should matter, but he did.” Maefyl answered defensively. “You’re supposed to trust me. I told you I would behave, but I wasn’t about to let the creepy fuck touch me.”
“We should go back inside.” Gabriel smiled at him.
“We can go in a minute.” Maefyl folded his arms around Gabriel and kissed him.