“Falcon, your request to meet you here has now left us all with further scars.” Raziel turned and made his cold remarks. “Were you through or will you finish with the torment your bride is so eager to give us.”
“Aren’t you supposed to stay out of my head?” Karla pouted.
“It’s not that easy, kid.” Maefyl stood beside the Council doors with Gabriel. At this point Raziel knew as well as he did what Eidolon was convinced of. It wasn’t much of a stretch all things considered. “Just spill it, Eidolon. We do have other shit to do.”
“Among the fallen of Vikarr’s lineage we spoke with very few.” Eidolon explained softly. Hoping the tone of his voice may soften the news. “The most talented of which were the last to die. Charming, powerful women.”
“Women have always been my best work.” Vikarr giggled. “But this story has a far more interesting ending then ghosts of witches or you would not have brought us here.”
“True enough.” Eidolon took a small gathering of Vikarr’s thread he had saved into his hand and sighed. “Your bride asked if you had family that still lived. Eternity, if you would.”
“The amazing thing about Vikarr’s blood is that it hid over the centuries.” Eternity explained as she took the thread and infused it with magic akin to a demonic paternity test. “His power, the talent with latent magic, would peek and wane as it followed the strongest women through his line. Near the end it was nearly as pure as it was in his own child.”
“Vanessa and Valerie were kind of fun, too.” Karla interrupted. “I liked them.”
“Razzy.” Van whispered as she took his hand. She heard enough once she heard the names. It didn’t take genius to work out the rest and she wanted to run from the truth before anyone spoke it aloud. “I want to go home.”
“Nearly?” Eliza watched the fairy lay the thread in Vikarr’s palm and manipulate it into a strange looking seal before forcing the magic into his skin.
“They were souls at peace.” Kaneko explained with a grin as she tugged Neka’s tail. “Hard to judge how powerful because they’ve let so much of it go for a quiet ever after. Still human enough to like it the easy way.”
“As strong as your blood had rekindled in the two of them.” Eternity continued. “The last of your line would have been as close to being your daughter as possible.”
“You demons make my head hurt.” Eliza complained.
“Because they play games and you are dense…” Donovan teased. “They are saying he has a living daughter.”
“I still have a child?” Vikarr laughed. “Impossible.”
“Not impossible.” Raziel lifted Van’s trembling fingers and pricked one with his thumbnail as he closed his eyes. He had seen the possibility and already knew it was only going to be confirmed. Vikarr was as close to a father as Van would ever have. “Just unfortunate.”
Lucifer laughed boisterously as he watched Van’s blood react to Eternity’s spell and the blood within the source of her family’s magic. Van started to weep.
“It’s a girl.” Eliza grinned up at Vikarr. “You can tell because of the pink hair.”
“Back off, E.” Brig sighed as he stood close by and helped comfort Van. “Can’t you see she’s upset?”
“Cram it up your arse, London.” Eliza taunted. “Isn’t this some kind of privilege?”
“Dry your eyes, puppet.” Raziel stepped in front of her as Vikarr approached them. As she tried to quiet her sobs against his back Galik stepped beside Raziel defensively and glared at Vikarr. Raziel could feel the rage seething in his creation over Van’s tears and took his wrist. “There has been enough confrontation, Galik. Let him speak.”
“No!” Van whimpered and pulled at the back of Raziel’s sleeves. “I don’t want to hear this. I want to go home, Razzy.”
“Now, look here Princess Pinky.” Eliza scowled as she crossed her arms. “Vivi might be a jerk sometimes, but you are being a real brat about this.”
“Lovely…” Vikarr’s sigh became a childlike grin as he pulled her up to kiss her. “Be kind. She is my child.”
“I am not.” Van glared at them over Raziel’s shoulder. “I want nothing to do with you.”
“Respect her decision, Vikarr.” Raziel suggested coldly. “Your bride has had her amusing puzzle solved. That is enough.”
“You want me to deny my blood?” Vikarr stepped closer forcing Raziel to tilt his head back to look him in the eye. “The girl carries a part of me. Let me speak with her.”
“I don’t get why she is all pissy.” Eliza looked away pouting. “If you are one of these Watchers, she should be thrilled.”
“My actions caused her heartache.” Vikarr pulled a handkerchief from his breast pocket and laid it across Raziel’s shoulder for the vampire whose eyes were now as pink as her hair from weeping. “For that I am sorry. You are free to disavow any relation to me, Van. If you choose not to, I will make every effort to be as I should. I would gladly call such a charming creature daughter.”
“I’ll think about it.” Van took the handkerchief and looked at it sadly. It had been Vikarr that played a part in Raziel and Brig suffering. Accepting that he was a part of her made her ache. This was not the answer she wanted to the questions she had in the back of her mind her whole life.
“Now back off, cupcake.” Brig held Shana beside him and tugged one of Van’s pigtails as he smirked up at Vikarr. As certain as Brig was that he was going to regret his behavior during their visit here, he was as compelled as ever to protect his family. “Van will talk to you when and if she wants to.”
“Of course.” Vikarr bowed his head and shifted away with Eliza. He turned to Eidolon and smiled. “Thank you, Falcon.”
“Oh, right!” Eliza squeaked and bowed her head. “Thanks so much. I hope it wasn’t too much trouble.”
“It was not and you are welcome.” Eidolon smiled as he and Karla walked toward the doors to the Council hall hand in hand. The task had been enlightening and had given him new experiences with his brides. It had not been trouble for him. He was more concerned for the trouble it would now cause for everyone else. He stopped near Maefyl and Gabriel and sighed. “I apologize for that distraction.”
“I’m more concerned with that distraction.” Maefyl nodded toward the scene at the throne. Kage even looked intimidating when doting on his children. There was a cruelty in his smile even when he was at his happiest, but while he watched his daughters laughing together now he would steal glances at the quiet boy at the end of Neka’s leash and ice filled his eyes. He had given his permission, but Kage was still furious over Lilith’s gift. Maefyl didn’t need Kage’s hidden thoughts to see it. The thoughts he did hear were more pleasant but no less troubling. Lilith was truly trying to help. Kage’s focus on Neka was bruising Lucifer’s affection, she hoped a distraction for the girl would let Kage take his eyes off of her long enough to see that. Neka was thrilled with her new pet and with seeing her sister Kaneko. She was busy introducing the two of them under the watchful glare of her Father. Bishop’s thoughts may have been the most disturbing of the lot. He was completely accepting of the offer Lilith had made. He consigned himself to this temporary slavery. Not for any of her promised rewards, but out of concern for Neka, a child he had known for minutes, and a sense of atonement for his part in the loss of lives in Vex. “That kid has no idea what he just got himself into.”
“I don’t believe that any of us are privy to what we’ve gotten ourselves into, Maefyl.” Eidolon gave him a sad smile as he looked back over the hall. Every moment of happiness in their lives had been paid for with tears and pain that no mortal would even have the time to experience, but watching the others arrive Eidolon realized that despite the bickering they were here, all of them together, who could regret a moment of a life that brought them this far? Karla looked up at him troubled and he comforted her with a smile that grew more genuine as she returned it with her own. “But like all of us I imagine he will have few regrets when he breathes his last.”
“His last comes quick.” Eternity sighed from Eidolon’s shoulder. “Strange choice for a pet.”
“Daddy!” Asura skipped over and jumped into Gabriel’s arms before she took in the moods around the room and started her inquisition. “Who is the boy? What’s wrong with Van?”
“Kitty boy!” Neka squealed at the sight of Azazel and in her excitement tugged Bishop closer. As he stumbled toward them Kage kicked him back gently and sat Neka on her feet. “Sorry, Daddy. Sorry, Bissop.”
“Bishop.” He laughed nervously at the girl that blushed over her own mistake.
“You are not to correct her.” Kage glared at him. “You’ll answer to whatever she calls you, shiga.”
“She is going to be positively evil when she grows up.” Azazel grinned as he watched the boy nod his acceptance. “A Viper in training.”
“Don’t you dare, my pet.” Nikolai slipped his fingers into Azazel’s collar and smiled as he pulled him along. “I’ll be evil for you. Asura, Bezer. I think we should wait for the others inside.”
Nikolai’s pets dutifully followed him into the Council hall as the others watched. Each of them doting on each other as they found their places inside and avoided the tension building in Lucifer’s audience hall.
“I think we will join him.” Raziel gestured for the door to have his puppets lead the way. Even with the truce of the Council, the Keeper made it a point to keep them in his sights and he wanted to see them all inside before there was any more conflict. Cid and Tali held tight to Brig’s arm as he escorted Shana into the hall silently and Galik followed close behind hugging Frikk and Frakk to his chest. In a rare show of tenderness, Raziel held Van by her hand and escorted her himself. She was quiet, but her thoughts were screaming and she was fighting the urge to wail and fall against him for comfort. When the doors closed behind them he lifted her hand and kissed it before taking the handkerchief she still had twisted in her fingers. He wrapped it softly around her wrist and tied it there as she sniffled. “We can discuss this later.”
“I just don’t want you to hate me, Razzy.” Van tried to stop her lip from quivering and toughen up and wished she could do what Raziel did and just hide it all away. “That man is awful.”
“Vikarr has made poor decisions, he is not awful.” Raziel laid his hand against Van’s face. “Even if he was, your relation to him makes no difference to me.”
“I truly hate to involve myself.” Nikolai sighed as Asura nudged him into speaking. “But if my experience can give you any comfort… We are not our Fathers.”
“He is NOT her Father.” Galik growled at him and handed Van a lollipop. “We can make her smile without you.”
“Thank you, Nikolai.” Raziel nodded to him. Van had understood the sentiment and accepted the truth in it. It would take her time to accept Vikarr, but she would not dwell on the worry that she would be held accountable for mistakes that were not her own. Raziel pressed his fingertips to her lips and she kissed them. He did the same for Galik before he claimed the sweetness of their kisses for himself. He cast a glance at Brig as he sat to ease the jealous thoughts stirring in his most troublesome puppet. “Now settle yourselves, puppets. We all want a quick end to this.”
“So what was with the other guests and the kid?” Bezer sat on the edge of the table between Nikolai and Asura as they sat. As she swung her feet she giggled at Blondie bouncing from foot to foot.
“The Lancers are here at the Councils request.” Raziel explained as he watched his puppets quietly finding there places beside him. “The boy is from Vex. He seems to have been given to Kage’s daughter as a toy. One more tragedy in his short life.”
“That’s not fair.” Asura frowned. “Since when do we give people as gifts?”
“Your grandfather has made quite the habit of it.” Raziel closed his eyes and offered nothing else.
Asura couldn’t respond and knew that Raziel understood her reasons. They all fell into a sullen silence and waited for the others. There were enough troubles without focusing on another of Lucifer’s many cruel games. They were here to end conflicts, not to begin them. Azazel slid behind Asura in her chair and held her as she tapped at her computer screen and Bezer stroked Nikolai’s hair as he rested his head on his hand and closed his eyes to shut out the misery of the heavy mood that had fallen across the table.