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TCOL : Epilogue : As It Ends, So It Begins ~Fin~

Kage walked away from a frustrating evening only to have it spill over into a frustrating night, he loathed the idea of parting however briefly from Neka on such cruel terms but he simply needed time to himself.

“The discussion is over, Neka.” Kage stood firmly beside the locked door behind which her pet would spend the next few hours and pointed across the hall. “Your room. Now.”

“Daddy…” Neka whimpered. “It’s not fair. Neka will be lonely.”

“Thanks, kid.” Malice pouted as she fluttered nearby. “We’ll be fine, Lord Kage.”

“See to it she stays occupied.” Kage patted Neka on her head softly. “I am not going to apologize for teaching you obedience, Neka. You would not respect me if I did.”

“Neka will behave.” Neka hugged his legs abruptly and went to her room sniffling. Malice followed after her and Kage walked down the hall as the door closed.

“Settled?” Lucifer asked without looking up from his feverish scribbling into one of his journals.

“I don’t enjoy the fact she is already starting to fight my decisions.” Kage claimed a seat near Lucifer but stayed distanced enough to leave his writing undisturbed. “How did you handle Kaneko?”

“Kaneko was never a problem.” Lilith interrupted casually as she handed Kage a glass of wine. “She is a child, Kage. Neka will start to see the good in your decisions eventually.”

“Is that so?” Kage grinned cruelly. “When should we expect this miraculous understanding from your child? At least mine have respect for their parents.”

“That’s enough, Kage.” Lucifer continued writing.

“You must have had an eventful evening.” Kage sipped his wine. Lucifer had not even raised his voice to stop the quarreling. He had not once looked up at either of them since he arrived. “Should we be jealous?”

“You should still your tongue before I tear it out.” Lucifer looked up at him coldly. “I’ve never given either of you cause to doubt me. Don’t insult me again, Kagami.”

“Tek, Vasun.” Kage bowed his head in understanding. “I didn’t mean to say that you would…”

“My evening was spent with Maefyl.” Lucifer closed his journal and it vanished, finding its place on one of hundreds of shelves around the room. As he folded his hands he smiled at Kage. “Considering the efforts I made to keep you both, and the continued efforts I make to sate you both, I do not want to hear even the passing thought of jealousy. Is that clear?”

“Kryss has quite the talented daughter.” Lilith quickly changed the subject.

“I doubt Kage battled so long with Neka to rehash the evenings events, my Love.” Lucifer shifted playfully into Kage’s lap and started to gather up the long, dark hair of the blushing Viper in one hand as he pulled himself close. “Did you want my attention?”

“If you can spare it…” Kage’s fingers shook on his glass until Lilith was kind enough to take it as she walked by on her way out. “I did not realize you were still writing, I would not have interrupted.”

“Shut up, Kagami.” Lucifer grabbed Kage’s hair tight in his hand before he kissed him. While his mind had been elsewhere, he promised himself and his loves that he would make time for them. It was a promise he meant to keep. It helped that it was one he enjoyed keeping. Worry melted away when he was with them and while Kage wrapped his arms around him, Lucifer could almost forget the living words pulsing with the riddles of all existence on the walls around them.

 

It may have been a touch too early,

But his soul is a restless one.

Maefyl was always meant to have this secret.

I trust him with it.

It is not his knowledge of their existence that has me worried, but he still has so much to understand.

I only hope that he can fully accept it before any of the others realize what I have done.

There should be time.

So many distractions now.

Even for myself it seems.

But I am looking forward with enthusiasm.

Embracing the unexpected is rejuvenating.

Disaster can be therapeutic.

 

“He seems content.” Lilith smiled as she came to bed and saw Kage slumbering beside Lucifer. “Is it okay to join you?”

“Of course.” Lucifer welcomed her warmly into his arm and kissed her as she settled against him. “In fact he would probably sleep right through it I tossed you on his back and had you right now.”

“He would be mortified.” Lilith giggled.

“He is not that asleep.” Kage hissed and turned over hoping to ignore their cooing.

“Oh, Kage.” Lilith tugged a bit of his hair. “Stop being difficult. Let him enjoy us.”

“He can enjoy us all he wishes.” Kage turned enough to glare at her. “Separately.”

“Leave him.” Lucifer took her wrist and kissed it until she dropped her hold on Kage’s hair. As Kage relaxed back to bed, Lucifer pulled Lilith beneath him. “You are going to have to stop teasing him, my love.”

“But I so enjoy it, my Lord.” Lilith smiled up at Lucifer adoringly. “I think you do as well.”

“Let me do the teasing.” Lucifer grinned. He had a thousand wicked thoughts run through his mind, but he decided Kage still needed time to adjust and instead focused on pleasing Lilith. As she moaned he kissed her and did Kage the favor of putting him to sleep.

 

 

I imagine this excitement I feel is somewhat akin to what a child feels embarking on the unknown.

I feel renewed and inspired.

Ready to take on the unwritten chapter.

I have yet to be defeated by an ending.

I do not plan on bowing out just yet.

-L

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TCOL : What We Are : Reflection

What is it that defines us? Can a definition even be given to something as vague as what we are? Is there some riddle to unlock in our emotions? Our thoughts? Our actions? Can you define the character of one based solely on what you can see or can something so deep only be found within oneself?

We have names, we take titles, we give each facet of our lives some vague concept to give it meaning. We classify ourselves by race, species, and gender. Divide and segregate ourselves because of ridiculous differences, but does any of it give insight to what we are? And without these little titles we use to give ourselves a place are we anything at all?

More importantly, does it even matter? Of all the titles I’ve been given only three have ever mattered to me. Husband, Father and Friend. As I have now failed at all of these, what remains to define me?

The center of creation…

And I am nothing.

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TCOL : Hearts : Without Light

I am without a doubt one of the most selfish creatures to have ever taken a breath, but I feel I have given as much as I have ever taken. Is it so much to ask to be forgiven for a decision made to protect?

 Yes, I have kept secrets, but damn it Gabriel have your lies done any less damage? How dare you turn on me when I give you more of my trust? You hold my son in your arms. Will you take him from me as well?

 Zakesalek at each other’s throats, the Wyrms scheming, my daughter is a disappointing waste, and my loves bicker over the existence of the other. I give you my trust, my strength, and you turn on me when I need you most.

 I’m staring at a portrait of myself and there are pieces torn and faded. A puzzle with pieces lost. My patience and compassion slip away and I am starting to lose my will to even care. You’ve broken me and left me in darkness, Gabriel.

 As I claw my way free of this abyss alone I will remind myself of my love for you and try not to blame you for the dead I leave in my wake.

***

After hours of Circle meeting that left him bored and frustrated, Lucifer had only gotten angrier over the way Gabriel had left. The longer he went without word the more bitter he was getting over the cold words. He tossed his journal across the room angrily and kicked over the side table.

“Stop lurking outside the door you two.” Lucifer shouted when he lost his patience with his loves presence lingering just outside the room. “I won’t have the two of you hiding from me. You belong at my side.”

“An honor we both hold dear.” Lilith said as they walked inside. Her hand still clutching the locket and Kage’s fingers wrapped firmly around hers. “We know you are already troubled.”

“Delivering more misery is not a task either of us wants to accept.” Kage bowed his head as they kneeled in front of Lucifer. “We are sharing the burden, but I beg you to direct your rage at me. I am less frail and more expendable than your Lilith.”

“Kage…” Lilith lowered her head and whispered. “You fool.”

“Your sudden alliance would be welcome if you weren’t wearing despair on your faces.” Lucifer held out his hand and waited for the trinket they concealed. “I don’t have the patience for your hesitation.”

“The insult was meant for me, my Lord.” Lilith laid the locket in his hand as tears fell down her face.

“Give me the memory, Kagami.” Lucifer opened the locket and looked at the image with an ache in his chest. Shiroi as a child with him and Lilith, an adoring child on the laps of those who loved her. Spoiled her. Sent her away. “Now, Kage.”

“Tek, det Vasun.” Kage slipped his fingers into Lucifer’s hand over the locket and closed it as he shared the visit to Parasek. Each second of the short recollection adding to Lucifer’s fury and tightening his fingers until the bones in Kage’s fingers started to break. “I am truly sorry. I should have taken more care in her upbringing. The fault for her behavior lies with me.”

“Shiroi insults the both of you.” Lucifer kicked Kage to the floor as he stood. The fireplace raged with new flames as he stepped past Lilith. He threw the necklace and locket into the inferno and watched the flames. “Stop apologizing for her. You gave her more than I asked you to.”

“She was left too long without guidance.” Kage rose to his feet and approached Lucifer slowly. “In time she will learn her place. She is your daughter after all.”

“I don’t recall my Lilith bearing a daughter.” Lucifer sneered as he turned to Kage. “Kill the girl.”

“Please don’t ask me that.” Kage took Lucifer’s hand and fell to his knees. “Disown her. Renounce her. Don’t ask me to kill a part of you. I can not. Just leave her to Samael and Azrael. Deny her your name, even the kindness of your voice…”

“Then you will bring me the head of the one who corrupted my seed.” Lucifer grabbed Kage’s neck and pushed him to the floor. Before Kage could speak he lifted him enough to slam him to the floor and break every rib in his back. “This is not negotiable. You will sit in Council, and then you will end the miserable existence of that whore. I’ll leave Shiroi to the Wyrms. If I hear anyone refer to that child as my daughter I will have their tongue nailed to the wall of my throne room. I will not tolerate disappointment. You will both join me for tea in the Council hall.”

“Just go.” Malice fluttered in front of Lilith to halt her advance. Lucifer had left a painful silence and when Kage finally sat up he just pulled up one knee for Kagemusha to sit and stared into the fire. “He doesn’t want to talk.”

“Lucifer will only be angrier if he does not join me.” Lilith brushed the tears from her eyes.

“I will be there in a moment, Lilith.” Kage had already healed the physical damage, but as he looked at the flames he felt the helpless ache. There was no way to stop a moth from stupidly diving into the fire, burning its wings and dying for the love of the light that drew it in. Kage thought that he had spent his whole life with his wings engulfed in flames. An immortal moth in an endless spiral of pain. He smirked as he heard Lilith leave the room. They likely both had wings of flame, but at the end of the day their light did not send them to their deaths. He embraced them, caressed them, and loved them. He gave all of himself and while the fire may burn; it did not destroy their wings. They only burned brighter. Kage lifted Kagemusha and sat her on his shoulder as he stood. Malice joined them and he was grateful they knew him well enough to know he needed their silence. There were no words that could provide comfort for the task he had to do.

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The Council Of Lords : Necessity

Lucifer had given his Council of Lords six months to correct their mistakes. To find a peace amongst themselves and work together for the better of all the realms they were meant to rule over and protect. After only a week they were each putting their individual skills to use and starting realize their seats at Lucifer’s table were more than they could have imagined.

 Lucifer had not just handed them title and power. He gave them a burden. Without warning he had relaxed his own protection on Tsuriai as a test of their strength and ability and they had all failed to see it. Now they were forced to set aside old grudges and forge shaky alliances to restore order to the human realm and protect the creatures demons had long protected from the barbaric tendencies of mortals.

 Without Lucifer’s constant protection humans had wandered into long protected reserves and resumed long forgotten habits bourn out of curiosity and boredom. They began attacking the helpless. Hunting young dragons for sport and some simply overwhelming and beating them for entertainment. It was cruel and wasteful; once it came to light it had enraged the infant council and now they were at work setting up new protection for Tsuriai’s many reserves.

 Another young race that suffered was the pixies. Scattered corpses and broken wings had been found, but far more were missing and the Council’s Keeper’s were charged with finding the reason why. Efforts were being made by every Circle to relay any information to the Council’s most technologically inclined; the ambitious young vampire Asura, who was expertly keeping track of every bit of information and relaying it to the Council. The Council’s newest member, Vikarr, had supplied his succubi to gather information and was working closely with all of them and Asura to see that everyone was staying informed.

 What had begun as a childish mess was beginning to come together as a well-oiled machine and Lucifer was hopeful that it was a sign of a bright future for the realm of Tsuriai and not just a calm before the storm.

 So many of the Council still had their own Circle’s to manage; their own families to care for and loves to cater to. There were still troubles that needed to be addressed beyond the Council itself that would affect its function and his own family.

 Eidolon still had not placed a new Third in Tsumi and was worried over the emotional state of his wolves. Kage was fighting a moral battle with himself that left him distracted. While Tsumi was one of the more orderly of the Circles and remained untouched by most of the problems with unruly humans, it was no less running with broken gears and needed to be repaired.

 While Osore itself was running well and its Third kept up with daily routine; the Head and Second were as always a focus of concern for Lucifer. Maefyl was hiding his anger well for a change, but that was only going to last so long. His growth lately had been phenomenal and he was hiding it from everyone he could. Maefyl wanted answers and he would come for them soon. Gabriel was troubling for another reason. He was too quiet. He was becoming distant, he was hiding something. Lucifer wanted to know what. For now Maefyl was occupied searching for answers with Sanguine and Gabriel was coordinating efforts to keep reserves protected.

 Golod is as it has always been. Perfectly twisted, but perfect. Nikolai and his cubs keep the citizenry happy. Happy people don’t cause trouble. The Circle runs more than effectively and Asura did her part not only in Golod, but on the Council as well. Her family awarded her a wealth of love and protection, the friends Nikolai made; the family he won himself, gave him the same. Golod was well protected. The only worry for Golod was in the friends Nikolai kept that were at odds with one another. For the time being Asura had plenty to keep her busy. Nikolai was making daily trips with Raziel to search for answers about the fate of the pixies. Bezer and Azazel were keeping Golod in order.

 Nihil was one of the Circles that had humans overstepping, but its members were already seeing to it. The Circle itself worked well together and had very recently started to forge better bonds of friendship and each of them had found their own personal happiness worth protecting that made them all the more determined to achieve greatness in their every task.

 Vex had its own strange circumstances to deal with, but the Circle at least was functioning well. Business was business in Vex. As much as they had all become a messy family, when it came to work they handled what had to be done before they dealt with their personal lives. Brig and Galik handled the office while Raziel handled his Council work and they all hoped his daily wandering with Nikolai would be a very temporary arrangement.

Breakseal

My scattered treasures running about in a somewhat unified effort is comforting, but it still pains me that it took tragedy to force the unity. I’ve also noticed that in all of it, the ones who most wanted this power are the least eager to use it.

 Since Samael and Azrael left the table with my daughter there has been no word. As the others work they are off pitying themselves in Parasek. I have been angry with the Wyrms before, I never thought I would be disappointed. I truly hope they plan to make up for this lapse, but paired with the death of Shiroi’s kind heart, I am going to find it difficult to find anything they do impressive.

 I never should have let my magic lapse; Tsuriai has always been my burden to bear. It is a little frightening that letting such a small fraction slip allowed so much death. I suppose it is time to stop stretching my toes and get back to work, I can slowly put barriers back in place while they work. They should be making these efforts anyway and there is no harm in shaking a few bored angels and demons out of bed and giving them a purpose.

 Now, what can I get up to in six months?

-L

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Nihil : The Things To Come : Hope ~Fin~

“You haven’t told me what part you want me to play in this, my Lord.” Lilith sat in front of Lucifer letting the mist of magic he had called envelope her.

 “The parts you always play so brilliantly.” Lucifer smiled in the darkness that surrounded the two of them. “Friend, Mother, Wife. Most importantly, I need you to be as always my patience. I’m letting Tsuriai suffer to help its protectors learn their place. It is painful and infuriating.”

 “My Lord, I know that you would not risk any of it if you did not believe there was hope in it.” Lilith took his hands. “You believe in them.”

 “In some of them.” Lucifer laughed as he pulled the magic he had called into himself and his always loving bride into his arms. “That you still have such faith in me…”

 “It must be nice to have the trust of the one you love.” Kage hissed as he crouched beside them and glared at Lucifer. “I am not even worthy of the gifts I’ve been given.”

 “De kosh sek, Kagami.” Lucifer grinned and wrapped his fingers behind Kage’s neck. “Sek sesa det truk”

 “And your frequent insults.” Kage looked away.

 “I can’t show you favoritism.” Lucifer ran his thumb over Kage’s lips. “Stop sulking.”

 “I have to quiet Nexus and find suitable guardians to aid Gabriel.” Kage started to excuse himself but Lucifer’s finger’s that barely rested on his neck kept him from standing. “Enchubi fiket, det Vasun?”

 “Kaka de kesek sek kosh de.” Lucifer smiled and pulled Kage so that he fell over them.

 “Mave vat enonsa.” Kage braced himself against the floor and Lucifer’s shoulder as he kissed him. It was true. More than anything. All else could fade and Kage would move on. He felt Lilith’s hand on his neck and tried to ignore the warmth of her fingers on his skin. He understood Lilith’s unending faith in Lucifer because he shared her blind devotion. They were both slaves to it. “Now, let me go and prove myself.”

 “You’ve already done that, Kage.” Lucifer licked the edge of the collar at Kage’s wrist as he held him a moment longer. “Stop being a pest or I’ll insist that you mentor Nikolai.”

 “I’ll kill that twit.” Kage snapped at him.

 “Just behave, Kage.” Lucifer laughed and let go. “I wouldn’t do that to Nikolai.”

 “I’ll check on the half-breed before I return.” Kage shifted from the room leaving a small page on the floor beside them to give his quiet ‘I love you’ without admitting he was flustered by Lucifer’s taunting.

 “Since he brought it up.” Lilith smiled. “Maefyl did well.”

 “He did, my love.” Lucifer lifted her as he stood and took them into one of her quiet gardens. He sat against a fountain at its center with a journal and a quill and patted the ground beside him. “Come here and spoil me for giving you such a wonderful son.”

 “Tea and cake?” Lilith sat close beside him as Lucifer opened the journal against his knees. “Or wine and grapes.”

 “Tea.” Lucifer sat his quill against the page and grinned. “We’ll save the wine until Kage comes home and I’ll make him feed us both grapes.”

 “So wicked.” Lilith giggled.

Breakseal

I am wicked. It suits me well. It is a part of my nature that helps me cope with the difficult matters at hand.

 Maefyl’s growth is worthy of note and his progress worthy of both my praise and pride. Unfortunately, the joy I should feel in seeing him embrace power and take initiative is soured by circumstances.

 My decision to let my protection wane has been more costly than I anticipated. Even one dragon dead at the hands of mortals again sickens me; to see several children lost is heart-breaking. Allowing this to continue makes me feel wretched. If it takes such tragedy to wake Zakesalek and unite the Council of Lord the sacrifice must be made, but the cost is a painful burden that I will carry forever.

 My lapse in protection has cost other creatures as well. The tender fairies that I have no way to ever repair. My only peace is that the greater races have learned to defend themselves and remain unaffected and that the pixies still repopulate on their own, but my guilt in the numbers they lose will still haunt me always.

 Please, my treasures… Pass this test and show me this Council is worth the price I pay.

 Nihil’s call on the Council may have been a saving grace. Vikarr may have been a choice made out of convenience, but one that may be of more benefit than Samael realizes. Vikarr has an eagerness to please not only myself and his kin, but also his young bride. It makes him both cautious and inventive. He, like the Wyrms, has also recently realized that he can accept the company of others without losing himself and has been making friends quickly. My hope is that as he forges his new friendships, it will start to pull the others together. Something has to bring these stubborn fools together; if it takes the unpredictable antics of the Jester, so be it.

 There are a few loose ends I need to look into… Gabby was unusually quiet today. I think it may be time to see what he has been up to.

Tsuriai6Nihil

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Nihil : Complications : Tangled

“That guy is unbelievable.” Brig finished his third cigarette before he was irritated enough with Raziel’s silence to push him for answers. “What did he want?”

“Nothing you need to concern yourself with.” Raziel answered coldly as they walked. He was troubled enough over Vikarr’s threats without starting another fight over Brig’s past. He was attempting to honor Brig’s need to speak freely, but it was starting to worry him.

“That is a bullshit answer, cupcake.” Brig grabbed Raziel by his arm and tried to force the truth out of him. “Would it kill you to tell me the fucking truth?”

“Don’t grab him like that.” Galik scolded Brig for breaking Raziel’s rules. He fought his first reaction to push Brig away and tried to make Raziel proud. “Lord Raziel doesn’t lie to you. You need to be more patient.”

“Don’t cause a scene.” Shana hugged Brig and softly reminded him they were in public. “If he says it isn’t a problem, just let it go for now.”

“Vikarr wants us to leave Nihil.” Raziel gave Brig his answer as he pulled his arm away. “He made threats that are meaningless as long as you manage to behave yourself. He does not want you distracting his bride.”

“Did you tell him I have no fucking interest?” Brig wrapped his arm around Shana and pulled her along as Raziel ignored the question and started walking again. The fargoyles flew circles above them laughing and kept themselves detached from the argument and Brig realized he was probably making things more difficult than they had to be. His friendship with Eliza had been a failure and Demise was right, he had other people to worry about. “Raziel, I’m sorry. I won’t talk to her.”

“You won’t go near her.” Samael landed in front of them. “None of you will.”

“We should have brought umbrellas.” Brig muttered and pulled Shana close as he sneered at the arrival of the more articulate Wyrm. “It’s raining assholes.”

Raziel stepped in front of Galik and depended on him to keep Van quiet. The Wyrms had done an exceptional job at masking their presence and when Watchers made an effort to hide themselves it usually meant trouble. Raziel waited quietly for Samael to explain the interruption, he was not going to react without reason and give Samael the upper hand.

“Lucifer will be disappointed with you, Keeper.” Samael grinned as he baited Raziel. “Vikarr has complained about your entire handling of his request. Your demeanor has offended him, and he claims you’ve been difficult and insulting. You are making a mockery of our Council.”

“Vikarr is the one being difficult.” Brig defended. “He has been the one flinging insults.”

“You’ve insulted the bride of a Watcher, Raziel.” Samael ignored Brig’s interruption and continued. Brig would be the one who handed him the Keeper. Raziel’s other puppets were too well behaved to defy their Master. Brig was going to be easily led to anger. “He has asked my intervention.”

“He won’t have to suffer my presence much longer.” Raziel wanted to pull Brig and Shana closer to protect them, but feared that such reaction would only push Samael’s agenda.

“I see your Lord plays favorites, Brig.” Shiroi walked around them with Azrael and stood proudly between her Masters as she did her part. She smiled cruelly at Brig as Azrael stroked her arm with his fingers to give her confidence. “Is such a weak place in his life worth setting aside those high and mighty ideals of yours?”

“At least I have ideals.” Brig scowled at her and squeezed Shana’s hand as he pulled her behind him. “I feel like I need a shower just being on the same side of the street as you. You have no right to lecture me after what you did.”

“It’s not any fun sharing him with someone who doesn’t love you. Is it Shana?” Shiroi taunted the bride Brig swore he would love exclusively with a pain she was familiar with. “It’s a slap in the face to see him slipping away.”

“You’ve got it all wrong.” Shana smiled and lifted her arm to show Raziel’s crest. She managed a smile and a more polite tone, but Shana was just as angry with Shiroi for the pain she caused Maefyl. “We made this decision like we make all of them; together. Not everyone has the same trouble keeping their vows.”

“Shana. Come here, puppet.” Raziel called for her and knew she would understand the need for silence. Brig was growing more impatient and angry, but if he could at least remove Shana’s additional rage he may be able to protect her. Raziel was used to being unable to read the thoughts of Zakesalek, but they had blanketed Shiroi’s mind to conceal her thoughts, which meant they were carefully hiding her knowledge of their plans. Raziel feared Brig was playing into those plans and that he may be too late to save him. “Samael, we will avoid Vikarr and his bride.”

“You’re just a toy to him.” Shiroi scowled at Shana as she went to stand with Raziel. “Another doll for his collection.”

“You’ve got some nerve, you cold-blooded slut.” Brig screamed at her. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see you cozied up with reptiles.”

Samael wrapped the end of his tail around Shiroi’s ankle. She was keeping herself well composed despite Brig drawing on her unfortunate past for insults. Azrael ran his fingers through her hair and grinned. She had been so nervous, but with their simple gestures her confidence kept her performing so beautifully. Raziel was too panicked to scold his most vocal pet, but he would most certainly move to defend him.

“Insult them again.” Shiroi spread a fan of kunai through her fingers. Even without her Master’s orders to bait Brig into attacking she was not going to let them be insulted by a child. “I dare you.”

“Brig.” Shana tried to remind him to be patient, but Galik grabbed her arm and shook his head.

Galik knew better than most that misbehaving always cost Raziel. He had suffered the absence of his Master as he paid for Galik’s mistakes. Brig was causing enough trouble on his own and Galik was terrified.

Raziel could not hear their thoughts, but knew the Wyrms well enough to see the signs of victory on them. Azrael was never adept at hiding his excitement, his chest rose heavily as his breath hastened and his smile grew wider with every insult Brig and Shiroi exchanged. His silence was offering further worry. Azrael was prone to exchanging words with Samael during every conversation, but anticipation had stilled his tongue. Raziel prepared himself for the worst.

“Everyone thinks you are such a gentlemen.” Shiroi taunted Brig further to push him over the edge. She felt the pride of her Masters as her excitement swelled from her. She had doubted there was any joy to be found in this game, but it was exciting to feel so powerful and untouchable. “You don’t even know how to speak to a lady.”

“You hardly qualify for that.” Brig lost control of his temper and swung on her, but it was Samael that his fist broke against. Brig winced as his knuckles shattered, but it was the smile on Samael’s face that made him regret his momentary lapse of judgment.

“That was a mistake you will deeply regret.” Samael pushed Brig to Azrael and stepped in front of Raziel’s attempt to grab his pet. “Your Master will regret it as well.”

“Baat Deseka shent salek wen sek kofret besek isa ek tallish ek Galik.” Azrael laughed at Raziel as he broke Brig’s wrists in his hands.

“Nepu, Azrael.” Raziel felt the pain in Brig’s limbs and was proud of him for enduring it with little more than a grimace. “Samael, they both spoke unfortunate words. We are supposed to work together, as Council and Zakesalek. Release him.”

“Working together requires respect that you have clearly failed to teach your vampires.” Samael grinned as he called for Lucifer. “I think our Dark Lord will be interested in your pretty pet attempting to assault my bride. He does after all have a soft spot for her.”

“I gave you all such simple rules.” Lucifer paced around them and grabbed Brig by his hair. “If you are going to run your mouth like Maefyl, learn to defend yourself.”

“They started this shit.” Brig cringed as Azrael tightened his fingers on the shattered bones in his wrists. Lucifer headed for Raziel and Brig screamed at him. “You know they did. This is shit. You are still pissed at Raziel.”

“You were the one to resort to violence.” Lucifer took Raziel by his throat. He wanted to break the Keeper himself for other insults, but was satisfied Samael would be cruel enough. “And you are responsible for him. You may as well have attacked my daughter yourself.”

“He did not touch her.” Raziel could feel the crush of Brig’s guilt. Galik was overwhelmed with fear and anger as he held Van and Shana beside him to keep either of them from making the situation worse. The fargoyles stood beside them in fearful silence. Raziel felt each of their anxieties breaking his heart, but the hardest to process was Brig’s wish for death to atone for what he had done. “If you hold me responsible then let Brig go. It was me Samael sought to destroy with this plot.”

“What plot? I was only addressing Vikarr’s valid complaint.” Samael smiled and put his arms around Shiroi. “Now your tribe has not only insulted Vikarr’s bride, but attacked my own.”

“You are going to allow this farce?” Raziel’s mask remained intact and his voice still carried no trace of his feelings, but Galik was not the only one who was afraid.

“I have no reason not to. I don’t owe you any protection.” Lucifer spoke in a cruel whisper. “You should have given your loyalty to the one with the power, Keeper.”

Lucifer dragged Raziel over to Azrael and forced both the Keeper and Brig unconscious before he tossed Raziel to the ground at Azrael’s feet. He snatched Demise from Brig’s shoulder and tossed her toward Raziel’s remaining puppets.

“What did you do?” Shana cried and tried to struggle out of Galik’s arm as Van wept on his shoulder. She watched as Azrael took both of them by the hair and vanished. Lucifer smiled at her fruitless efforts to escape Galik’s protection. “Why would you do this? After everything…”

“Shh.” Lucifer hushed her as he turned to Samael. Lucifer regretted Brig’s part in it, but he could not resist the temptation to see Raziel suffer for his defiance. He still wanted order among the Zakesalek and there were limits to what he would allow to damage the unity he was trying to bring to those he treasured. “You have one week, Samael. Then you deliver them both to Council. Alive. I will let you play your clever game, but you need to remember who makes the rules. I am only allowing this because it saves me the trouble of punishing Raziel myself.”

“Still find your Master impressive?” Shiroi laughed as she fawned over Samael. Lucifer had gone and Shana was screaming and furiously trying to pull herself away from Galik. “Next time you feel like insulting someone, you should remember how easily my Masters could make slaves of the things you love.”

“De kosh sek, Welak Isa.” Samael pulled her against him with a lustful pride he intended to show her the second they returned home. “Sek kaatas paraki.”

Breakseal

 

There are decisions I regret. I am as much a slave to my emotions as any other and a wounded pride is often the cause of our worst choices.

I do not enjoy the fact that Raziel’s puppets will suffer with him, but I can not deny the satisfaction of seeing the cracks in his arrogant mask.

I need to let Samael have this victory for other reasons. He has his sights set higher and I can not allow his ambitions to claim the victims he truly wants. The Keeper will have to endure this to spare the others.

My hope is that the Wyrms will vent their rage and lose the desire to act against Gabby. I can not risk defending Raziel if it will endanger my son.

Unfortunately this decision will put me at odds with the very things I want to protect. I am sorry Maefyl, but I am going to have to hurt you again.

                                                                                             -Lucifer

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Nihil : Arrogance & Humility

It remains to be seen if I have started a game that can not be won.

 When I… When we began; just wandering minds in darkness, souls clinging to one another for reasons we still have yet to fully grasp, we took form, name and title to validate ourselves. Driven by little else but a strong will to exist, we created and we watched and we were content with it. We wrapped this tiny world on the verge of making its own way in our unbreakable embrace and guided its existence to suit ourselves. We each found our own reasons and motivations, but we were together in it.

 What created the division among us? Is there any way to bring unity back to Zakesalek? To bring the others back into the fold and find what we have lost? In trying to force reconciliation have I only sent them further down a path to destruction? My Council of Lords is a risky decision, but one I hope will heal old wounds. We’ve each found so many things worth holding. I want to protect them together.

 This game will not be a pleasant one. The board is unpredictable and covered with trials that will test us all, but the board is set and the players are eager to see it through. New resolve and determination is driving powerful emotions and I see a horizon filled with pain. Every journey worth taking is difficult, but when we reach the end of this game I want to be holding the things I love, not mourning the loss of everything I hold dear.

 Maybe my doubts and questions are as pointless as the time I spend on them. We are together again; I and all of us have found love and immeasurable happiness. Maybe I should trust in my dragons, my friends and my children. Maybe I should stop searching for answers and accept the fact that I already know the truth of it. There are no answers.

 It is the quest to find the unobtainable that keeps life interesting for some; I just doubt it is answers my more adventurous treasures are seeking. I see in their eyes dangerous desires, impatient longings, and a lust for vengeance long kept on ice. I hope these motivations don’t unravel what it has taken so long to gather, Still it should be amusing to see who breaks the rules first and more interestingly who will beg for mercy on their behalf.

Lucifer

“Where are you off to?” Lucifer grabbed Kage’s tie when he leaned over him. He smiled as the Viper’s hair cascaded over his shoulder and fell around them.

 “Tsumi.” Kage let Lucifer pull him closer and kiss him. “Asura’s lessons.”

 “Are you honoring the bargain?” Lucifer let Kage’s tie slip through his fingers as Kage righted himself. He grinned wickedly at the husband he had violently ravaged just hours ago. “Or are you just getting in Eidolon’s way?”

 “I give what advice I can.” Kage answered. “Despite the gifts you’ve given her, the child was human. She is still agitated that I will not fight her myself.”

 “She is still improving?” Lucifer stood and altered his attire as Kage nodded. He had a dozen or so Circles to visit and decided on comfort over impressive aesthetics. The dark bandages on his hands and forearms were exposed below the sleeves of a t-shirt that matched them and his jeans were torn at the knees.

 He was still familiarizing the Circles of Tsuriai with their new Council and he was undecided on which of the twelve members he would drag along for introductions today. “If you and Eidolon will be with Asura, I imagine Nikolai will be unavailable today as well.”

 “Take Maefyl.” Kage suggested. “He will likely be avoiding all other work as usual.”

 “Lilith, join me for work.” Lucifer leaned into a doorway laughing. “I want to have lunch with someone who actually eats.”

 “I would love to, my Lord.” Lilith pouted her regrets. “You asked that I see to this problem in Nihil.”

 “This Council is becoming a hindrance to my social life.” Lucifer grinned. “I’ll send Raziel to Nihil. Come with me, my love.”

 “Gladly.” Lilith tossed aside her computer and ran to him. “Though you are going to be accused of playing favorites.”

 “So?” Lucifer laughed. “I’ve been accused of worse. Will you join us for lunch, Kage?”

 “Let me know when, det Vasun.” Kage bowed his head and vanished.

 “Now lets go ruin Raziel’s day.” Lucifer kissed Lilith as he shifted the both of them to the courtyard in Vex.

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