“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.”