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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 : 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 : Death & New Life : Sisters Pt.2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Biwdy.” Neka giggled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No.” Kage hissed.

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

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TCOL : What We Are : Saying Goodbye

“I had hoped to give you a son.” Nexus looked at the child in her arms as Kage approached silently. “But she is beautiful.”

 “You should not have hidden this from me.” Kage touched the child’s face with his fingertips and she smiled up at him. Once more their offspring had mismatched eyes, one reflective of each of her parents. Neither of them had seen Kaneko as a child, but Kage could only imagine she looked remarkably similar. This girl too had both black and white hair, but the placement was reversed. “Have you given her a name?”

 “Neka.” Nexus smiled before she looked up at him. “If you don’t like it…”

 “I do.” Kage sat beside Nexus on the bed and put his arm around her waist and rested his fingers on the bracelet on her arm he had given her so long ago. “Now I will have two daughters that despise me.”

 “Kaneko will understand. She adores you.” Nexus wiped the tears from her face. She knew Lucifer would lose his patience for her eventually. The timing was cruel, but she could not make it more painful for Kage by begging for time. “And Neka will have so many amazing women in her life, that she will not have time to mourn a mother she never knew. As much as I hate to admit this, Your Lord and his Mistress were better to Kaneko than I could have been. They will be a good family for Neka… and for you.”

 “You are accepting this too easily.” Kage hung his head. “He first asked that I kill Shiroi. My refusal pointed his rage at you. You should hate me for this and for every other injustice you have suffered at my hand.”

 “I don’t hate you for trying to spare the life of my child, my Lord.” Nexus leaned into his arms as she held their daughter. “I don’t hate you for anything. You are what you are and I love you for it.”

 “You are an impossible woman.” Kage looked away and sneered. “I’ve come here to end your life. A life I have filled with pain and torment. How can you still give me love, leave me with another of your beautiful children, and accept death with a smile?”

 “Because I am yours.” Nexus waited for him to turn and face her before she continued. “My love has always been yours. I have always been yours. I was made for you; maybe I accept your violence because that is what you needed. Maybe I am impossible because I needed to be an outlet for your rage. I give you my child, our child, because you are a remarkable father and because I want you to know always when you look at out children that I loved you. I accept death because I believe you no longer have need of me, because my continued presence brings you only misery, and because I prefer death to life without you. I consider it an honor to die in the Viper’s embrace.”

 “If I had the choice I would just keep you here.” Kage stroked the side of Nexus’ neck as he stood. “I can’t disobey him.”

 “I won’t make you keep him waiting.” Nexus shifted across the room to lay the baby in a cradle. After a whispered goodbye and a kiss Nexus walked back to Kage to face her death. “Can you give me your kiss one last time?”

 “I have been given some time.” Kage caressed her face. “Ask me for more than what I would give you anyway.”

 “Then kill me slowly, my Lord.” Nexus started to unbutton Kage’s shirt. “Fill my veins with your poison and make love to me.”

 “I was going to make your death painless.” Kage grinned as he kissed her throat. “You have suffered enough.”

 “My Viper would not tolerate a weak lover in his bed.” Nexus let her clothes fall away from her as she reminded him of their first night together.

 •••

Kage pulled his gift into his bedchamber by her hair as she whimpered. He wrapped thick mists of chaos around her throat and wrists as he tossed her to his sheets and they formed tight cords that bound her before he sat over her and lengthened his talons in front of her to watch fear grow on her face. She screamed as he slid a sharpened nail down her arm slicing it open and he cackled softly as he licked up the blood.

 “If such a tiny scratch makes you weep, you will not last the night.” Kage dug his nails into her arms and kissed her open mouth as she screamed once more. When he grinned at her wickedly she turned away crying. “Such beauty is useless if it can’t withstand my desire.”

 “Why are you hurting me, my Lord?” Nexus wept. “I was meant to please you.”

 “Then please me.” Kage hissed and struck her across the face. “Endure the pain I give you. I won’t tolerate a weak lover weeping on my sheets.”

 “But such pain.” Nexus turned her head and watched the blood glisten on her arm through the tears.

 “Fail to please me and I will teach you pain.” Kage licked up her neck her scratched her skin with the tips of his fangs. He laughed as she screamed and her body started to shake and her skin went pale. He hadn’t even pierced skin and his venom started to spread a web of black across her skin that sent a wave of pain through her that made her howl and convulse before she fell to the sheets panting. Kage tore open her clothes and pulled her legs around him. “You were given to me. You are going to learn quickly what it is to serve the Viper.”

 “Yes, my Lord.” Nexus could barely speak. The pain was excruciating and the force he took her with was frightening. His fingers left bruises everywhere he touched her, his kiss was commanding and made her feel completely helpless. Lucifer had been careless and there was no real emotion in the way he had taken her, but as she was conquered by the Master she was meant for Nexus felt desire. It was brutal, violently possessive and near debilitating it was so terrifying, but she preferred this to lying beneath someone who had no interest. She made every effort to keep up with his passion and when she failed to, bit her lip and endured his claws and his fist. When he took her by her hair and licked the tears from her face Nexus wanted to wrap her arms around him. “Free my hands, Lord Kage. Teach me to please you. Teach me to suffer for you.”

 “You have to earn the right to touch me.” Kage wrapped his fingers around her throat as he continued to take her savagely. “And you will not speak without my permission. Another word and you will feel my lash tonight.”

 •••

“You are not weak.” Kage lifted Nexus onto the bed and gave her the first of his venom filled kisses. As Lucifer had, Nexus had built a slight tolerance to his poison, but she was weaker and the pain started instantly. He relaxed his fangs and caressed her as he shed his clothes and took his bride. He started to kiss away her tears as she wrapped around him. “You were never weak.”

 “I love you, Kage.” Nexus cried as quietly as she could as she endured the pain of the Viper’s kiss. He had never let so much of his poison slip and the fire that burned through her was worse than she could have ever imagined. Still she smiled as she twisted her fingers in his hair and he obliged her desire to have him one last time.

 “I love you.” Kage kept his fingers in her hair as he kissed her again and delivered enough of his venom to make her pain end quickly. She held him quietly and he looked down at her. They spent their last moments together in silence as he watched her fight the pain to keep an expression of love and adoration on her face. Even as her skin blackened and peeled from the decay of the damage he caused she just gave him tenderness. He smiled at her until the pain was too much and she seized in his arms and her head rolled aside.

 Kage wept as he held what was left of his bride and she slowly turned to ash. Before he could collect himself and start to gather her soul, some odd magic started to do the work in his place. As her remains scattered themselves the essence of her life converged on the bracelet she had been wearing. The deep red stones glowed and burned Kage’s fingers as he touched them. They pulsed with a strange smelling magic until the light seemed to fold in on itself and disappear leaving the delicate wrap of rubies lying alone where Nexus had been.

 Kage picked it up to find it had split into two smaller wraps and a tear fell from his eye as he dressed and slid them into his pocket. He called for Kagemusha and walked to the cradle where his daughter looked up at him.

 “Lord Kage?” Kagemusha fluttered over the child.

 “Neka.” Kage lifted the baby and cradled her in his arm. “My daughter.”

 “You’re going to raise a child?” Kagemusha rushed to his shoulder and looked down at her. “She’s pretty.”

 “I will need your help, Kagemusha.” Kage returned to Lucifer’s estate and walked through the halls dreading Lucifer’s response to the child in his arms. “I am not well suited to deal with children.”

 “I will do all I can.” Kagemusha promised her aid as Kage paused by the door to Lucifer’s bedchamber. “All will be well, Lord Kage.”

 “It is done, my Lord.” Kage entered the room and approached Lucifer as he looked at the enormous screen on his wall and scowled at the information he was overseeing. “I was unable to retain the trophy you requested, but I am left with a burden that requires I beg for your patience.”

 “A child is not a burden, Kage.” Lucifer sighed and flipped though several screens of information. “Bring her here.”

 “I won’t let this interfere with my work.” Kage held the girl fearfully as Lucifer turned to him. There was still a fury in his gaze and bitterness that made him seem cold. “I intend to keep the child with me.”

 “Then you are already a better father than I am.” Lucifer sighed and opened another set of screens to make changes. “My jealousy deprived your children of their mother, but it will not deprive them of family. I consider your children my own. This girl may offer us both redemption for our failures. Her name?”

 “Neka.” Kage watched as Lucifer once more altered profiles of his family tree. Naming the children of the Dark Lords family. Maefyl, Kaneko, and Neka. “Where is Lilith?”

 “She was upholding a magic I set in place.” Lucifer looked at the girl in Kage’s arms and felt a sting of guilt for the pained expression of the father that held her. “One I hope spared you at least some misery.”

 “Her soul?” Kage laid his hand on his pocket.

 “I spared you the burden of destroying it.” Lucifer nodded. “I thought it would be a comfort to you.”

 “I hope I did enough. Even just upholding such magic is near impossible.” Lilith leaned against the bedpost for support. “How you do you manage these things so easily, my Lord?”

 “Get some rest, my love.” Lucifer shifted to her and lifted her before he shifted onto the bed and laid a blanket over her. “You did well.”

 “I should see to things in Tsumi.” Kage spoke softly. He was trying to find peace with what he had done. To find a way to thank Lucifer for small mercy when he had just given so much misery. “Eidolon has placed a Third and there is Council work to be done. Kryss needs to be ready to stand on his own when we are elsewhere.”

 “Your plan is to avoid me?” Lucifer walked past him. “What else must I take from you before you give me your attention.”

 “I am not trying to avoid you, my Lord. I have tasks to do that you assigned. If you require affection I will lie with you before I see to other work, but don’t accuse me of trying to avoid you. I can not possibly give you more of myself.” Kage took his arm. “I just killed the mother of my children for you.”

 “And I made sure her soul survived.” Lucifer grabbed the bracelets from Kage’s pocket and spun them on his finger. “Remind me again how selfish I am and I will crush it and use it to flavor my tea.”

 “Forgive me, my Lord.” Kage held out his hand. “I am agitated. I have to confess what I’ve done to Kaneko… What work do you prefer I see to first?”

 “Kaneko is with Eidolon and Karla in the realm of the Lost.” Lucifer sat the bracelets in Kage’s palm. “When you go to discuss it with her I will go with you and explain. I don’t want you to lose favor with her. It was my order, let me accept the responsibility.”

 “It will make little difference.” Kage slid the bracelets away and held his giggling daughter. “She will hate me for my part in it. They both will.”

 “Just do as I say, Kage.” Lucifer pulled him by his tie and kissed him. “Your children will love you and I will make this up to you.”

 “Yes, my Lord.” Kage sighed. “What do I do with her?”

 “You play with her.” Lucifer laughed and teased her with some of Kage’s hair. Neka giggled as she yanked it and Lucifer quickly pressed his fingers to Kage’s lips as he started to glare at the child. “And don’t hiss at her.”

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TCOL : What We Are : Council Pt.2

All guilty will be held accountable.” Maefyl clarified. “Tsuriai law governs every realm. Lucifer rules over all of it and named this Council his sword. His laws have always governed every realm, ours are no different. Unprovoked violence against a human is no more forgivable than violence visited on the dragons, or the pixies, or Azrael’s nymphs.”

“And how do you account for the law of nature, fetnakalu?” Samael smiled. “Is it violence for a lion to kill a gazelle? For a dragon to stomp out the weak to feed its children? How many humans die at the fangs of your kind?”

“There is a very clear difference between necessity and wanton violence and over indulgence, Samael.” Nikolai hoped his shaky friendship would sway Samael quickly. “No one can be punished for pursuing what is needed to survive. The numbers of our kind have been monitored and those who are grossly indulgent or kill for pleasure are dealt with. I imagine any creature that chooses to make a life in another realm will be held to the same standard and given similar leniency within the bounds of reason.”

“Vikarr, there was never really any law that kept the creatures out of Tsuriai.” Asura had been doing her homework and always paid attention to her fathers’ stories growing up. “I doubt the self imposed segregation is going to sudden collapse all at once. The reserves in the human realm are full of majestic creatures, but aside from the Circles and the lessers the cities are still predominantly human. You are arguing a point that is still years from becoming an issue and right now we need to deal the problems we have. Like Dad said, we can adapt as we need to. For now, this makes sense.”

“Monarchy was simpler.” Lucifer stepped up on the table and walked along it until he reached Asura. He snatched the computer from her hands and quickly went over the details and manipulated the information into the proper channels. He handed the tablet back to Asura and looked further down the table. “It’s done, Sanguine. They would all agree eventually. They are just wasting your time.”

“You’re more of a dictator than a monarch.” Maefyl laughed.

“And you are an unending source of irritation.” Lucifer glared at him as he walked back to his seat. “Have you heard any more about these angels?”

“Nothing substantial.” Maefyl shrugged. “They are clever enough to keep the humans working for them in the dark, Farren’s mind was guarded and Kava’s name just seems to cloud the minds of those that do know it.”

“The only help we did get was from Myrt.” Sanguine added.

“Mala’s brother?” Lucifer crossed his legs and sat in his chair. “I’m not sure I would trust someone that loyal to Heaven.”

“He is starting to realize that loyalty was misplaced.” Maefyl chose to keep his explanation short before he started defending another angel. “At the very least you can trust the information and what little good it does. He mentioned your Rise prompted some Watcher’s to take new names.”

“Cowards.” Samael sneered.

“Some hid from Lucifer’s wrath.” Raziel had heard enough wandering thoughts in heaven to be well aware of the changing names. He was upset with himself for not considering it as a reason behind the elusive nature of the target of their hunt. “Most only wanted to leave the stain of Iehovah behind.”

“That is not a name that should be used in this estate, Keeper.” Kage hissed. “Especially in the same breath you use to defend those too ashamed of themselves for following him to even use their own names.”

“Ha.” Asura covered her mouth when she realized she had not laughed to herself. She was looking over the changes Lucifer had made. Not to the law he pushed through to the Circle but to the more personal alterations to the profile he had left open on her screen. He had her listed as his granddaughter, which had always been a sort of understanding between them so it was just a nice gesture to see it made official. It was following the rest of the family tree that made her embarrass herself. Lucifer had two children he was claiming as family. Maefyl the son of his Lilith and Kaneko the daughter of his husband Kage. “Sorry, I was reading.”

“Cool it, Asura.” Maefyl sighed. He had been trying to ignore what he had seen in Lilith’s mind. Hoping he could talk some sense into Lucifer before it was too late. But seeing the changes Lucifer was making through Asura’s thoughts was troubling. Kage was suffering silently and had only spoken briefly to defend Lilith’s hatred of Iehovah and the air was cold with the cracks growing between Gabriel and Lucifer. As much as Maefyl understood Asura’s long-standing frustration with Shiroi, he didn’t want her to start a war with her sense of smug satisfaction over something she didn’t fully understand.

“Will Myrt be joining us in Nihil on a more permanent basis?” Vikarr slid away his phone after checking updates from Mala and Donovan.

“He will be asking for residence.” Gabriel answered with a smile. “He has decided to live in Nihil, but not to serve the Circle. He does not desire to leave one life of servitude for another. Will that be a problem?”

“Not at all.” Vikarr smiled and squeezed Eliza’s fingers. “Mala will be delighted that he has decided to stay.”

“In the interest of moving things forward.” Lucifer tapped the table. “If either Myrt of Mala are willing to work with one of our Keeper’s you may have a method of lifting the veil the obscures Kava’s identity.”

“How so?” Maefyl pulled a cigarette from his pack. He was surprised Lucifer was willing to offer advice at all considering his insistence that the Council handle the whole situation alone.

“You’ve seen what they can do.” Lucifer smirked. “Get them close to Farren. He could use a nap. It might inspire him to be more open-minded. Does that cover all your concerns, Sanguine?”

“Yep.” Sanguine nodded. “I do want to remind any one helping rescue the pixies that going home shiny isn’t the only worry anymore. The choirs might show up, so be careful.”

“Lilith, my love.” Lucifer stood and gestured for her to join him. As she joined him he whispered at her ear and she nodded and left the hall. Lucifer walked around Gabriel to stand beside Kage. He slid his fingers under Kage’s chin and clutched his jaw tightly. “De kosh sek. Ench vaku elt se en vade na de.”

“Tek, det Vasun.” Kage stood and looked at Lucifer a moment. He had no expectation that Lucifer would change his mind; Kage just wanted even a trace of remorse for the order he gave. What he saw in Lucifer was deeper than he imagined and he could feel the heartache through the bond they shared. Lucifer may be without regret for Nexus herself, but he was tortured by the pain he was causing. “De kosh sek.”

“Sutabanvol, Kage.” Maefyl tossed his cigarette as he stood. He shifted across the table and grabbed Kage by his arm to keep him from going and looked to Lucifer. “Meeting is over, Lucy. Can we talk?”

“Everyone out.” Lucifer leaned against the edge of the table and crossed his arms to wait for the departure of the Council.

“I will meet you at home, Maefyl.” Gabriel started away from the table and vanished.

“I’ll talk to him, okay.” Maefyl grabbed Lucifer by his shirt as he saw his expression getting colder. “He’s upset. You’re upset. You’re both stubborn.”

“What did you want, Maefyl?” Lucifer glared at him.

“You are about to make him do something horrible.” Maefyl returned the angry gaze. “Do you really want him to live with it?”

“This does not concern you.” Kage pushed Maefyl’s fingers off of his arm. “I do appreciate that you have made such effort, but there is no point in involving yourself.”

“Lucy, you can’t make him do this.” Maefyl pleaded.

“Go home to Gabby, Maefyl.” Lucifer took the tablet Sanguine carried by its edge and handed it to him. “I am and always will be your friend, but I am also your Father. You will learn to respect that. As this Council and all of Tsuriai will remember whom it is they have been fucking with. Leave.”

“For fuck sake, Lucy.” Maefyl made one last attempt to reason with him as he tucked the computer under his arm and settled Sanguine on his shoulder. “Will you listen to yourself?”

“I said leave!” Lucifer kicked Maefyl in the chest and forced his shift to Osore before he pushed his hair back and looked at Kage. “He’s fine. I just sent him home. Do you want to leave Malice and Kagemusha with me? I at least owe you the time alone for this.”

“I’ll join you when I am through.” Kage bowed and let Malice wander her way to Lucifer. Kagemusha just hid herself away in his hair. He had a feeling she would refuse to leave him for this. As he started to stand Lucifer kissed him and Kage felt the slightest trembling in Lucifer’s lips. It was hidden by the time the kiss ended in a smile that vanished along with Lucifer himself, leaving Kage alone with Kagemusha in the Council hall. Kage shifted to his estate with a mind at war with itself. He was clutching at the frailest hopes and crushing himself with the weight of reality. His time with Nexus was once again meeting a tragic end, but there would be no scheme to return her to his bed. This would be the last he held Lucifer’s gift and he knew in his mourning there would only be further loss.

“I’m with you, Lord Kage.” Kagemusha whispered. “Always, but I can wait in the shadows…”

“Stay close.” Kage laid his hand on the door to the bedchamber. “But leave me these last moments alone. I have given this woman a life of misery…”

Kage let his thought trail off as he pushed open the door to Nexus smiling as she welcomed him home with a newly born child in her arms.

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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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TCOL : Hearts : Lilith & Kage Pt.2

“You’re well.” Kage ran to Samael and embraced him.

“No thanks to you.” Shiroi mumbled as she walked out with Azrael.

“Devana, Welak Isa.” Azrael put his hand over her mouth and shook his head fearfully as he pulled her close. “Hak mave.”

“Kasu saba Lilith vana?” Samael returned Kage’s embrace enthusiastically, but was just as bothered by Lilith’s presence as the other creatures in Parasek.

“Deseka kaat wazet’tach paranat.” Kage explained quickly as he held Samael by his shoulders. “I just had to be sure you had recovered. The half-breed said he gave you his aid.”

“Would you please stop calling him that?” Lilith sighed as she waited impatiently for an end to the visit. It was a beautiful garden but the company was souring her ability to enjoy it.

“Kaat sek stava beshaka?” Azrael pulled Shiroi with him as he walked up to Kage pouting. “Dan sek shok de?”

“I’m not angry.” Kage grabbed Azrael and swung him around as he hugged him. Azrael laughed as he returned the affection. “And I don’t hate you. I was afraid the two of you were going to be angry with me.”

“We are not.” Samael pulled Kage’s hair. “Your half-breed friend was kind enough to end my suffering.”

“Maefyl was here?” Shiroi pouted. “Why didn’t you tell me, Kaleka Samael?”

“This can wait, Welak Isa.” Samael took her hand and started to lead her to the table. He kissed her as she sat and patted her head. “Be polite.”

“Hi Lilith.” Shiroi huffed as Samael stood aside and talked with Kage and Azrael. “Since when are you and Uncle all cozy?”

“We are far from cozy, child.” Lilith laughed. “Lord Lucifer bid us to work together today, so we are working together. Some of us choose to compromise to cater to our Masters instead of causing them grief.”

“I’m getting really tired of heavy handed advice from this train wreck of a family.” Shiroi pulled a locket from her pocket and threw it across the table at Lilith. “You aren’t my mother anyway.”

“After all I have done for you…” Lilith stopped the locket and let it fall in her open hand. She wanted to point out the uselessness of Shiroi’s actual mother and all the trouble she had caused, but instead focused on the far more troubling aspect of Shiroi’s outburst. “This will upset your Father.”

“I don’t care.” Shiroi shouted and ran over to the pair of black Pegasus that still looked on angrily. “Feday, do you mind? The company here is vile.”

“Not at all.” Feday let her climb onto his back and looked to Samael for permission. With her Master’s nod Feday and Arrak took flight and carried Shiroi off to relax.

“Go with them, Azrael.” Samael smiled and kissed Azrael. “I’ll join you in a moment.”

“VolVol, Kage.” Azrael jumped and kicked off Kage’s shoulders laughing as he spread his wings.

“Again, I apologize for Welak Isa.” Samael walked to the table and righted the chair Shiroi had knocked over in her rush to be away from Lilith.

“The girl needs discipline, Samael.” Kagemusha suggested coldly. “She will get you into trouble.”

“You have spent too much time on the shoulder of a bully, Kagemusha.” Samael laughed. “I have no intention of using cruelty to reign in my bride. Azrael and I will talk to her. She will see reason.”

“Reason is not one of her stronger qualities.” Kage sneered. “She has always been difficult.”

“She is also not your concern, Kage.” Samael smiled at him. “Now if you’ll excuse me, we have a meeting soon and I need to settle Welak Isa before then. Come and visit us later when you have less… company.”

“I will.” Kage gave Samael one last embrace and watched him fly off. He stepped behind Lilith and clutched her shoulder as she looked at the necklace in her hand sadly. “Would you prefer that I tell him?”

“He’s already angry, Kage.” Lilith closed her fingers tightly around the locket as she stood. “This will not be a tantrum we can protect each other from.”

“At the very least we can face it together.” Kage wrapped his fingers around her trembling hand and walked with her through Lucifer’s estate. He hoped if nothing else, the unity between them would give Lucifer some comfort and ease the pain of his daughter’s insult.

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