Tag Archives: The Past

Waking : Fables : Talon Pt.2

So many years had passed since Talon even gave it a thought. As Lucifer left he could remember it so clearly. Man was still so frightened of the unexplained and their fear made them brutal. The few packs of creatures that attempted to live alongside them took a great risk and it so often ended badly. Talon was there to protect them.

 Even among humans there were some who rose above the fear and hatred and among the beasts those more trusting than others. And in rare occasions friendships blossomed. In even rarer occasion. Love. It was beautiful to witness. The lovely human girl and the fawn as they fell for each other during the long midnight sun. Neither cared for what the other lacked, they just enjoyed each other. The girl was charming enough in fact the fawn had brought her into the village countless times and she had been accepted as family. Hallax and his Hilda. Inseparable. Still she would always have to return home and it was during one of those partings that their perfect love was tested. Hilda was with child and though she tried to keep it secret from her family, by the time she returned to Hallax too many of her village knew.

“They will come for me Hallax.” Hilda had struggled to make the journey north and was weak with fever. “I shouldn’t have come.”

 Hallax and his family assured her it was nonsense. They would protect her and the child. She could stay with them always. But they knew she was right. The humans would come. They feared what a child between them could be. They had never approved of Hilda’s frequent visits and made her life at home very difficult to make that clear.

 Hilda’s pregnancy was difficult and made worse by the coming trouble, but Hallax stayed by her side. Never once letting her feel alone even when the humans finally made their way north.

 By the time they arrived they were little more than an exhausted pack of mutts. The angry mob that began the journey had just lost its fuel over the months of harsh travel as the northern darkness of winter gave them no warmth and little light. The fawn gathered to meet them and as they did so they were joined by their guardian.

 “It’s unfortunate that you made this journey for nothing.” Talon stood unmoving between the two factions and stared down the humans. “If you leave now, however, you can keep your lives.”

“Not with one of us held hostage by those beasts!” One of the mob shouted.

 “I am no hostage.” Hilda struggled even to stand but with Hallax’ help she moved forward on the icy plain to state her intent. “And if you think them beasts, then I am not one of you.”

 Hilda fell to her knees in pain. Hallax panicked beside her as he saw blood spilling around her legs.

 Shouts from the mob accusing the fawns of dark magic urged them forward until Talon swept his fingers across the ice in front of them forcing them back with a gust of wind and ice. He barked his orders to get the girl to shelter before he approached the startled humans.

 “These creatures are protected.” Talon paced in front of the fear struck mortals. “This is my last warning. You leave here and never return or I will have your lives.”

 They left with little argument and the fawns retreated back to shelters. In one such shelter Talon found Hallax trying to comfort his wailing wife as she grew more pale.

 “Lord Talon.” Hallax spoke with a trembling voice. He was young but would be well loved and strong among his kind. “I have no right to ask this. It was our love that brought this trouble…”

 “Why save you all if it is only to grieve?” Talon came to the woman’s side and laid his hands on her stomach. He felt the life inside fighting as much as the mother’s life slipping away. He quickly healed the wounds and helped to calm the child inside the womb as he listened to the others scrambling around him for water for the woman as her wails turned to relieved gasps. In that moment he could have walked away, but it just wasn’t in his nature. He had to have something for his trouble. He worked his magic to ensure it. He made certain Hilda was well and could survive the birth then stepped away to let Hallax and his family tend to her.

 “If there is any way I can repay you.” Hallax smiled at him with tear filled eyes.

 “You already have, sweet Hallax.” Talon smiled. “And one day I will collect. Make sure to keep it safe until then.”

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Waking : Fables Pt.2

The reserves of Greenland were protected even before the world became Tsuriai. It was largely protected by nature itself, harsh climate and isolated locale made it ideal to protect some of the creatures who decided to brave the world of humans. Talon had been charged with protecting it. As time went on, Karas joined him in that task. When Lucifer set up a new world the task of protecting the reserve fell mostly to Karas.

 One of his visits to the icy lands led to an encounter that would forever change his life. He happened upon a young girl with lovely brown curls heading toward a protected village of fawns in the reserve. Karas pounced in front of her and smiled hoping at once for her to return the smile and for her to do something foolish and give him a chance to stretch his legs for a change.

 “Out of my way, demon.” The girl huffed impatiently.

 “You have no place here.” Karas grinned at the flush her frustration brought to her face and decided to see how pink he could make her. “Human.”

 “I have every right to be here.” Thalia walked up to him confidently and slapped him across the face. “Now step aside. My father expects me.”

 “Father?” Karas rubbed his face as he sniffed at her. “Half-breed?”

 “You find that distasteful?” Thalia walked on without paying him any mind. “Some protector you are.”

 “You know who I am?” Karas caught up to her and fell in step beside her. He was suddenly excited by the fact he was recognizable after such a short time appointed to the Circle.

 “Second of Drifa.” Thalia droned on with a tone that suggested she was unimpressed. “Before that you helped protect the creatures here. Though you clearly don’t know them very well.”

 “Thalia!” Hallax exclaimed as he rushed at his daughter. He was not entirely thrilled to see she had arrived with a demon, but it wasn’t the one he had to worry over so he kept his distaste to himself and greeted the guest. “And who is your guest?”

 “Not a guest, Papa.” Thalia sighed. “We just met on the way. He is not staying.”

 “Charming girl, Hallax.” Karas teased. “I guess that’s the human half showing.”

 “We do not speak ill of the dead here.” Hallax answered sadly.

 “You should go.” Thalia turned and slapped him once more. “Before you offend someone else.”

 As some of the other fawns nodded in agreement Karas realized his sense of humor had crossed a line and he felt more than a little disgusted with himself. He bowed to Thalia and her father. “My apologies. I will take my leave.”

Breakseal

Karas saw her by chance weeks later on the streets of Drifa and ran right over to her. He had rushed in so quickly and hadn’t thought of a word to say and ended up standing there stupidly as she shook her head.

 “You are in my way.” Thalia smiled. The demon in front of her seemed to be sincere and despite her fathers’ warnings she was intrigued by his stumbling attempts to approach her. “Again.”

 “I wanted to apologize properly.” Karas took her hands suddenly. Warm soft fingers that squeezed his in return. “I really didn’t mean to upset anyone. Let me take you to dinner.”

 “I don’t really date.” Thalia laughed. This demon was so adorably awkward she couldn’t help but like him. “I’ll tell you what though, I was going shopping. You can hold the bags.”

 “Deal.” Karas wiggled all twenty of his fingers in agreement. “And I am sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”

 “Don’t worry over it.” Thalia smiled reassuringly. “My family is a little superstitious and my father doesn’t have much trust for demons.”

 “I thought the fawns were on good terms with us.” Karas shrugged and crossed one set of arms as he fell into a comfortable stride beside her.

 “We are.” Thalia paused a moment wondering if her fathers distrust was contagious. She shook off the momentary shivers and continued. “With Papa, it is personal. I suppose it should be my torch to carry as well. You will just have to try and prove us wrong.”

Breakseal

 

“I will never stop trying.” Karas smiled and waited for Thalia to finish her shift.

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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 : Hearts : Broken Pt.3

“That’s enough, Gabriel.” Kage lifted Gabriel by his waist and tried to hold his arms in front of him, but Gabriel just pushed him away effortlessly and crossed the room quietly.

“Are you both okay?” Sanguine snuggled against Maefyl’s neck.

“We will be.” Maefyl sighed and joined Gabriel by a bookcase where he leaned with his eyes closed. Maefyl leaned against his back and squeezed his shoulders. “This doesn’t really change anything.”

“Finish whatever discussion you need to have with you Father, Maefyl.” Gabriel turned and smiled at him warmly. “You still have other obligations to tend to before Sanguine has asked us to gather.”

“Is everything alright?” Gory whispered to Gabriel.

“I just don’t have any desire to be here any longer.” Gabriel nodded.

“Don’t be ungrateful, Gabby.” Lucifer laughed. “I’ve given you a gift.”

“Such a gracious Lord.” Gabriel bowed his head mockingly. “In the future you can keep your gifts and your distance. Unless you have need of my service to Osore or Tsuriai, I have nothing to say to you.”

“Bite your tongue, Gabriel.” Kage hissed at him.

“Gabby?” Lucifer walked past Kage to approach Gabriel. “This is a cruel joke.”

“I am not one for jokes, Lord Lucifer.” Gabriel crossed his arms in front of him. “And I am through with yours. Maefyl, are you through here?”

“I can be.” Maefyl stepped between them nervously. “You want to tell me what this is about?”

“Clarity.” Gabriel offered Maefyl his hand. “And as I value your trust, love and friendship, I will explain all of it later.”

“Gabby, wait.” Lucifer reached for them as Gabriel shifted them away. He screamed and the entire realm shook with his outrage.

When Lilith moved to comfort him Kage shifted in front of her quickly and grimaced as a defensive burst of magic lashed around Lucifer and lashed across his back. Lilith looked up at Kage in shock over his action.

“Just give him a moment.” Kage continued to endure the assault of Lucifer’s blind rage to keep Lilith protected from it. “He does not deal with rejection from Gabriel very well.”

***

“My Lord, please calm yourself.” Kage bled as he forced his way through Lucifer’s anger. Countless angels littered the floor, casualties of the news Lucifer received that Gabriel would be remaining in Heaven.

 “Gabby refused to come with me.” Lucifer grabbed Kage by his hair as he shattered his barrier. He threw the Viper to the floor and stepped on his chest. “What do you want?”

 “Eidolon is keeping everyone ignorant of this.” Kage reported. “I came to clean this up. Your Gabriel would not want to know of this.”

 “How am I supposed to do this without him, Kage?” Lucifer sighed.

 “Are you ever truly without him, my Lord?” Kage sat up as Lucifer turned away. “He helped create a new realm for you, he wants you away from these imbeciles.”

 “Clean up this mess.” Lucifer grinned. “At least I will have you and Eidolon for company.”

***

 “Thank you.” Lucifer rested his hand against Kage’s back and healed the damage as he stepped beside him. He stroked Lilith hair as he leaned against Kage. “And I’m sorry.”

“Should I bring him back?” Kage offered.

“No.” Lucifer pulled both of them into his arms. He was glad they both returned the embrace and made no mention of jealousy. He needed their comfort. Gabriel’s cold expression had cut through him and the last thing he needed was the doubt of the ones he loved. “I’ll see him soon enough. I have several Circles to meet with.”

“I have several more forests I intended to clear, but I can join you if you prefer.” Kage was not certain there was any way to find a balance between Lucifer and the Council in this situation.

“Take Lilith with you.” Lucifer kissed each of them. “At least if the two of you can get along I can enjoy some of my life.”

“We’ll make you proud.” Lilith smiled and took Kage’s hand. “Meet us somewhere for dinner?”

“Yes, my love.” Lucifer chuckled at Kage’s pained expression as he tried to smile and hide his disgust at Lilith hand in his. “I’m sure the two of you will decide on something spectacular. Run along.”

As they left Lucifer let his smile fade and he slumped into a chair miserable with the thought of Gabriel treating him so frigidly. They had fought throughout the ages, they had disagreed and nearly obliterated each other, but never had they just turned away. Every separation had been in friendship and for mutual benefit, every argument was resolved, even their most violent disagreements never left him feeling so crushed and abandoned. They had always been together. Gabriel was his constant. His light. His most trusted friend. Without Gabriel’s friendship there would be a part of him missing and Lucifer was deathly afraid of what part of his heart Gabriel had broken.

***

“What an unbearable twit.” Lucifer sneered as he stormed off. “Why I ever allowed this farce…”

 Gabriel just walked beside him smiling as Lucifer pushed his way through choirs of angels in training.

 “What a complete waste.” Lucifer continued to ramble. “Why call so many nameless to hang about and sing ridiculous songs and swing sticks about all day. They should be called when there is need for them. This is just a grandiose testament to that man’s need to be gawked at.”

 “Some of us still remember what it means to create beautiful things.” Gabriel put his arm around Lucifer as they walked. “Enjoy the good in the world.”

 “You have a way of seeing good in anything.” Lucifer laughed. “Sadly, I think you might be the only good in the world.”

 “I think you might be giving me too much credit.” Gabriel laughed. “But if I am the only good in the world, you should consider yourself very lucky to have me as a friend.”

 “My very best.” Lucifer nodded. “Your friendship means everything to me, Gabby.”

 “Then just ignore these idiots.” Gabriel hugged Lucifer tightly. “We can have fun without them.”

 “Sorry.” A passing angel knocked into Lucifer and made a mindless apology as they continued on their way.

 “Without killing them as well.” Gabriel laughed as he caught the magic welling in Lucifer’s hands. “Honestly, Lucy. We need to work on your temper.”

 “Let’s work on it somewhere less crowded.” Lucifer scowled past Gabriel at the useless angel that had interrupted them.

 ***

“Your temper is just as bad, Gabby.” Lucifer wiped his eyes as he changed and shifted from his estate to begin handling his work for the day.

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TCOL : Uneasy : A Familiar Face Pt.3

“Thank you.” Mala whispered to Donovan. Mala dried his face as they waited for Myrt to follow. “I should have told you before now.”

“Don’t worry about it, angel.” Donovan kissed Mala’s nose and smiled. “Just try and patch things up while you have the chance.”

“Could you be any sweeter?” Mala grabbed Donovan’s ears and kissed him.

“This was the happy life you wanted?” Myrt couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “He’s a vampire! He’s a HE!”

“His name is Donovan.” Mala pushed open his office door. “Just come inside if you want to shout at me Myrt.”

“This sort of copulation is a sin, Mala.” Myrt shook his head as he followed them inside. “Do you have no shame at all?”

“I’m ashamed of you right now.” Mala turned and slapped Myrt across the face. “There is no sin or shame in loving my husband. Sin was always a farce to begin with. After all this time are you still hiding from yourself behind these ridiculous old rules?”

“Take it easy, Mala.” Donovan sighed and slumped in front of Mala’s desk moving aside a few stacks of papers. “I dealt with years of it. He’s your brother, he doesn’t need to like me.”

“Don’t move my things.” Mala smiled back at him.

“I’ll put them back.” Donovan sighed as Mala gestured for his chair. He replaced the pages and headed for his seat. “Okay, okay. I’ll put them back now.”

“You’re still as much of a mess as ever.” Myrt laughed at the mess. He was always picking up after Mala. They kept separate homes and he always found himself in one or the other cleaning up stacks of books or boxes and retying scrolls. Mala scolded him for it every time.

“It isn’t a mess…” Mala began with a smile but it would quickly fade.

“You know where everything is.” Myrt finished and sat on the floor frustrated. “Mala, I was lost when you left the horsemen. Then I saw you with Lucifer’s demons when they stormed into Heaven. I didn’t even know you had left home until then. I couldn’t let myself fight you. I threw myself in the flames of a Thrones attack to make myself useless until it was over. When I fell it was into a mass of lessers. I still don’t know if it was good or bad fortune. Had it been demons with any sort of sense I would be gone, but it was not for their lack of trying. While Hell celebrated, I mourned. I knitted my wounds and searched through the remains of the fallen looking for you.”

“I sent you word when I accepted the offer to serve in Tsuriai.” Mala dropped to one knee in front of Myrt and grabbed his shoulders. “I asked you to come then.”

“I had just watched you killing our friends, Mala.” Myrt wept. “We hadn’t spoken in years and you came back a murderer. A traitor. Tsuriai might have accepted things quickly, but I did not. A lot of us did not. How could I leave when I had just helped them sift through the ashes of those they loved, while they mourned our fallen God? Was I supposed to just turn my back on everyone like you did?”

“Myrt.” Mala rested his hands on Myrt’s shoulders as his brother looked away in tears. His fingers grazed the edge of imperfect skin and Mala pulled aside Myrt’s shirt. A wide scar ran over Myrt’s shoulder. “Where did you get this?”

 ***

“You ever try and touch me like that again, boy.” Michael sneered and kicked Myrt back dragging his sword back before he stood and kicked over the water basin in front of him. “I’ll take that arm off.”

 “It was a mistake, Lord Michael.” Myrt clutched at the wound that refused to heal. He whimpered as he scurried backward from Michael’s approach.

 “I’ll have to leave you with a few reminders not to make it again.” Michael lifted his sword and drove the blade into Myrt’s side. “The scars can help you remember your sin. Purge this filth from your mind or you can join the debauchery in Hell. I have no place for sodomites with the horsemen.”

 ***

“They were atonement.” Myrt tugged his shirt back into place. “It’s nothing.”

“Why haven’t you healed them?” Mala tried to do just that and Myrt pulled his hands in front of him.

“Don’t bother.” Myrt smirked. “It seems if a Watcher doesn’t want you to heal, you don’t. Besides I earned the scars. I’m lucky he let me keep my hands and allowed me to keep my place.”

“Michael did this?” Mala was horrified.

“Before you even left.” Myrt sighed. He could still hear the disgust in Michael’s voice. The mocking disapproval of his laughter as he left the room. He had just washed the Watcher’s feet, rubbed his ankles to help him relax as he had done so many times before. Myrt was still asking himself all these years later what had made him run his hands up Michael’s leg, what possibly could have made him believe Michael would accept his affection. In a few hopeful moments of silence Myrt had let his fingers caress the inside of Michael’s thigh before he felt the blade buried deep in his shoulder. He spent weeks begging forgiveness, when Mala left the horsemen Michael started to overlook the matter as a lapse of judgment because of the struggle of trying to keep his brother’s morals intact. Myrt accepted the lie of it so he could resume his work and eventually he seemed to win back Michael’s trust. “It doesn’t matter. What did you ask me here for Mala? Lord Gabriel insists that I hear you out.”

“I wanted you back in my life.” Mala admitted. “I had hoped you would forgive me and come to Nihil. It’s selfish, but we have a strange little family here. I wanted you to be a part of it.”

“The Jester and his vampire?” Myrt laughed. “That’s what you consider family now? And this… I don’t even know what to… I’m afraid to ask which of you…”

“It doesn’t matter.” Donovan interrupted as he checked the message on his phone. “It’s personal. Mala, Caleb is on his way. Do you want me to just take care of it?”

“No, it’s fine.” Mala pushed up the fuzzy sleeves of his sweater and turned to smile at him. He let the office door open and rubbed at his face. “He’s just dropping things off.”

“What’s this?” Myrt grabbed Mala’s wrist and rubbed at the braided band.

“Our wedding bands.” Donovan slid aside the cuff of his jacket to show his own.

“Pretty.” Myrt muttered.

“Hell-oooo!” Caleb announced himself as he entered the main hall and went back to singing to himself as he climbed the stairs. “…I look so good in my fancy hat…”

“Fuck, he’s singing again.” Donovan could only imagine what Myrt’s reaction was going to be to Caleb. Sweet, blonde, effeminate and in no way shy about his tendencies. When Caleb popped through the door juggling armfuls of papers and bags and a cup of what smelled like liquid sugar Donovan just laid his head on the desk and sighed.

“Am I seeing double?” Caleb grinned. “Is this my dream or yours, Donovan honey?”

“Must be yours.” Donovan groaned.

“And I only brought enough coffee for one Mala.” Caleb pouted.

“This is the rest of your paperwork?” Mala smiled as he took the coffee and reached for the messy stack.

“Some of it is on this thing.” Caleb thoughtlessly grabbed for the tiny drive in his pocket and dropped pages to the floor. “Well, shit.”

“At least it wasn’t the coffee.” Mala sipped the warm beverage and enjoyed the soothing feel of it until he almost choked on it. Caleb bent to grab all his papers from the floor and Myrt stooped to help him. Mala just watched quietly afraid to end the moment he was witnessing.

“Came all the way down here to help me?” Caleb smiled as he stacked the pages on his thighs and bounced on his toes. “Should I just call you Other Mala? Or do you have a name?”

“Myrt.” The angel straightened the pages he had gathered and slid them on top of the others on Caleb’s lap. When he started to stand the vampire grabbed his fingers.

“Hang on.” Caleb winked at him and reached into one of the bags he was carrying. “I’m Caleb. I only had one coffee, but Mala won’t mind sharing a few of these.”

“I might.” Mala trekked slowly behind his desk to stand beside Donovan and rested his hand on his shoulder. They both watched the exchange quietly.

“What is it?” Myrt looked at him puzzled. He had been away from humans and vampires for far longer than Mala when he arrived in Nihil. He had forgotten how naïve and simple they were. They spoke without thinking and were awkward and clumsy.

“Yummy stuff.” Caleb opened a small white box and pulled out a chocolate covered piece of fruit. He held it between his fingers and inched closer to Myrt. “Open up.”

“I don’t eat.” Myrt shook his head.

“Don’t or can’t?” Caleb frowned. “Hmm?”

“I just don’t need to.” Myrt answered sadly. On rare occasions he would have something, but he was always told not to over indulge in any sort of pleasure. He had enjoyed eating and thought it should be left alone.

“Well, I can’t.” Caleb continued to pout. “So eat it for me.”

“I don’t want to.” Myrt scowled at him.

“Don’t be a big baby.” Caleb set the box aside and jumped on Myrt laughing. “Open up.”

“No.” Myrt fell back and tried to move away but Caleb latched around his neck and made goofy faces as he laid on him awkwardly and poked at Myrt’s lips.

“Ca-“ Donovan started to stand and break up what he assumed was going to end badly and Mala pulled him back by his shoulder.

“Let them go.” Mala whispered. “Look.”

“Come on, pretty.” Caleb grinned at the tiny smile Myrt tried to hide as he tightened his lips. “It’s candy and fruit. Good and bad all at the same time. You can’t go wrong.”

“If I eat it will you get off of me?” Myrt pushed a few stray hairs out of the vampire’s face that had fallen loose from the ponytail and looked away when he noticed the vampire flushing. “Please.”

“Maybe.” Caleb laughed and held the treat up to Myrt’s lips. “You might want more though.”

Myrt let Caleb slide the candy along his tongue as he rested his hand on the vampire’s back and sat up trying to reclaim his dignity. Caleb was having fun with him but backed off his lap and grabbed the box from behind him. He took Myrt’s hand and sat the box in his palm before he smiled at him and started to gather up his pages again. As Caleb walked to the desk with his papers and the bag of treats for Mala, Myrt just looked at the box in his hand and wondered how he was supposed to react. While they discussed matters of business that made no sense to him he poked around in the little box and felt ashamed for enjoying what he had already eaten. More ashamed for letting himself get swept up in the sudden affection from a stranger. Myrt had never been in a situation like it and was unsure how to end it without hurting the vampire. What bothered him most is that there was part of him that didn’t want to end it. No one had ever given him so much attention. It was flattering.

“Didn’t like it?” Caleb pouted as he crouched behind Myrt and draped an arm over him. “I guess that means you aren’t going to let me sit in your lap again?”

“I did.” Myrt turned to look at him. Caleb had a disappointed sort of smile that Myrt was not sure how to interpret. He thought if nothing else he should show some gratitude for the gift, particularly since it was one of few he had ever received. “Thank you.”

“My pleasure, honey.” Caleb sighed as he took one last longing look. As he stood tried to push the idea out of his head and just went back to the discussion he came for. “Let me know when it’s all done. I’ll probably just get a smaller place to stay near Sordid.”

“This?” Donovan laughed and shook the messy stack of papers. “Give me an hour.”

“So reliable.” Caleb smiled and looked over to Myrt. He mumbled to himself as he wandered off. “I really need to set myself more realistic standards.”

“An hour?” Mala sighed. “I wanted to go home.”

“I’ll do it at home then.” Donovan pulled Mala to him as he stood and gave him a quick kiss. “I’ll go grab my computer. Invite your brother.”

“You really are happy.” Myrt rested his head on his knees. “I’ve missed you, Mala. I just don’t know where to go from here.”

“First to our place.” Mala sat beside his brother and put his arm around him as he snatched one of his treats and ate it. “You have to meet Dodo.”

“Those are mine.” Myrt closed the box and held it to his chest. “He gave them to me. Who is Dodo?”

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TCOL : Uneasy : A Familiar Face Pt.2

Once Donovan had hurried through a mess of menial tasks he rushed to the reserve to join Mala. When he found him he just watched from the ground as Mala sat in the high branches of an old tree with his eyes closed. Mala had asked a few of his old acquaintances to help guard the reserve and they gladly accepted the task, though most preferred their divine estates in Heaven and came in cycles to oversee things. Mala was here today to greet the last of those he called on and he had been pacing the floor for days over it.

 “Are you going to make me climb up there?” Donovan leaned against the tree and smiled.

 “I was just thinking.” Mala shifted in front of Donovan. “This may have been a terrible idea.”

 “Your other friends seemed okay with helping out.” Donovan took Mala’s hand. He hadn’t liked any of them. As helpful as they were they were all haughty and arrogant. They poked fun at Mala for wasting his time with an inferior species and made it clear they wanted nothing to do with Donovan. “I’ll just duck out when he shows up and let you talk. I’m sure it will be fine.”

 “Myrt is not a friend exactly.” Mala sighed. “I had to ask Gabriel’s help to even get him to come here because the situation is complicated. I feel bad enough with the way the others have treated you, Myrt might make them seem kind.”

 “I’m not worried about a few insults.” Donovan smiled at him. “Don’t let it bother you.”

 “You shouldn’t have to duck out.” Mala hung his head. “I want you here.”

 “Then I’ll stay.” Donovan lifted Mala’s chin. “Should I be jealous this Myrt gets you so upset?”

 “Ugh.” Mala grimaced. “Myrt is my brother.”

 “You never told me you had a brother.” Donovan gave him a sad smile and squeezed his hand. “You don’t get along?”

 “We used to.” Mala turned and paced as he tried to explain. “Myrt was very devoted to the horsemen. We both served them, but when I started to see how twisted Heaven’s elite were becoming I turned my back on it. I sided with Lucifer. Myrt did not.”

 “You did more than side with Lucifer.” Myrt landed in front of Mala and pushed him backward. “You turned your back on me and slaughtered our kin.”

 “Hey!” Donovan moved to defend Mala as he fell to the ground, but Mala raised his hand and smiled at him. Myrt hadn’t given him much time to react, but he was nearly floored by the sight of him. They were identical.

 “Stay there, Donovan.” Mala brushed himself off as he stood. “He has every right to be angry with me.”

 “You abandoned me, Mala.” Myrt screamed at him. “Then you befriended Lord Gabriel and had Lord Michael release me from my duty so I could live with the human filth?”

 “I didn’t want to abandon you.” Mala cried into his hands. “You refused to listen to me.”

 •••

“I can’t do this anymore, Myrt.” Mala wiped his face and embraced his brother. “I can’t watch sloth and arrogance slowly destroy everything we are. Michael has changed, like so many others, it’s as if they are blind to it. I won’t fight for someone who can’t even see their own purpose any longer.”

 “We’ve always fought together.” Myrt pleaded. “What use will I be without you?”

 “Then resign with me.” Mala begged. “Don’t let their darkness consume you.”

 “I can’t just leave the horsemen.” Myrt pushed away from Mala angrily. “And neither should you. This is who we are, Mala.”

“It is who we’ve been told to be.” Mala shook his head. “Myrt you can’t tell me you don’t see the hypocrisy in these rules and doctrines? I’ve seen your longings, you deny yourself out of misguided devotion to the will of a man who cursed his own child.”

 “Blasphemy!” Myrt struck Mala across the face. “And don’t you speak to me as if you understand my longing. You’ll never understand.”

“Myrt, I do understand.” Mala steadied himself against the wall as he wept. “I love you, I hate seeing you suffer.”

 “Then just stop this.” Myrt took his brother’s face in his hands. “We’ll forget this ever happened.”

 “No, Myrt.” Mala denied the request furiously. “I’ve spent too long carrying out atrocities because someone else told me it was for the best. I’m ashamed of the things I’ve done. I won’t live this way anymore. When I kneel for someone it will be because I respect them, if I choose to serve another it will be MY choice. I’m going to live the life I was given. I suggest you do the same.”

 “Will you at least stay in Heaven?” Myrt crouched beside Mala and leaned against the wall.

 “I haven’t decided.” Mala sighed. “This is my home, but if leaving the horsemen means that I will be constantly harassed I will make a home elsewhere. Lucifer has extended his welcome to those who feel strangled by Iehovah’s tyranny.”

 “You would abandon Heaven, abandon me, for the Dark One?” Myrt sneered up at his brother. “Is it his influence that has you speaking so ill of God?”

 “He is no god, Myrt.” Mala barely finished the name before his brother’s fingers closed around his throat.

 “I suppose you think the ones who follow him are fools as well?” Myrt shouted. “That I am a fool? And Lord Michael?”

 “I wish you would let this infatuation go.” Mala pushed the tears off Myrt’s face. “You could be so much happier if you would…”

 “Stop.” Myrt screamed. “I’m not infatuated with anything. Don’t put these sick thoughts you get from the Dark One on me. You are just trying to justify your sins with this disgusting notion you have about me.”

 “It is not disgusting.” Mala pulled Myrt closer by his shoulders. “This is what I am trying to make you understand. How is a feeling a sin? How is something as natural as caring for someone wrong? What gives Iehovah the right to decide how we convey our emotions? Why are our kin in Hell now treated as a different race? When is the last time you did anything but train new choirs? If we are meant to inspire love and grace why are we building such an army?”

 “We were trained to serve the horsemen, Mala.” Myrt kicked the wall beside them as he let his fingers slip away from Mala’s neck. “What kind of life are you going to lead if not the one you were meant for?”

 “A happy one.” Mala smiled and embraced his brother for the last time. “One of my own choosing. One I want you to be a part of.”

 “I won’t be.” Myrt shoved Mala away. “Go live your happy life. I hope God is forgiving enough to let you do it.”

 Mala wept as Myrt stormed off. They had not spoken since.

 •••

“Now I find out from strangers that you’ve married?” Myrt continued his rant. “Were you ever going to introduce me to your bride? Or are you too good for that now? All cozy with Lord Gabriel and Lucifer, so you only need your brother to check on your pathetic garden?”

 “Stop shouting at him.” Donovan couldn’t stand the sight of Mala crying any longer and stepped over to wrap his arms around him. “Brother or not, that’s enough.”

 “What are you?” Myrt scoffed at him. “His pet?”

 “Mala is my husband.” Donovan rubbed through Mala’s hair and let him sob against his shoulder. “And if you don’t mind we should continue this in one of our offices. This pathetic garden has seen enough violence lately.”

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TCOL : Distractions : The Falcon & His Brides Pt.2

Kaneko skipped along on her errands stopping here and there to look at her reflection in shop windows and to admire the sparkling shiny treasures that hid behind them. There were dozens of such treasures tucked away in boxes and bureaus in the apartment her new Master had provided her, but they were memories of another and she thought it best to leave them alone. She started to wonder about the girl who once resided there, the plentiful gifts that filled the lavish rooms were a testament to how much favor she had garnered with Eidolon and Kaneko thought she must have been a remarkable woman.

 She wanted to ask her Master about Karla, and what she had meant to him, but thought it best not to pry into the private affairs of the Watcher who she had only served a short time. It was better that she focused on her assigned duties and maybe in time she would earn the right to be his confidant.

 She grinned as she thought of him. At first she had only been excited about her new post in Tsumi because of the proximity she would have to a long lost sister, and because it meant working with a close friend of Lord Lucifer. Now she found herself falling for the Watcher, the attraction had been instant, but her feeling grew deeper with each passing moment. He was remarkably compassionate for one of his kind, stern but soft spoken, strong but gentle, and when he looked at her she felt like he was the only one in the world with her.

 She had already delivered all the messages he had sent her out to take care of. The last of her business was the part of her work here she most enjoyed, an order of execution. According to the order the person she was heading off to punish had been given more than adequate warning to change his fate. He had taken to stirring up unrest in Tsumi, claiming the Circle had been unjust and tyrannical in its rule, sometimes violently trying to bring others to his twisted way of thinking. He had attacked citizens and businesses he claimed had been brainwashed by the evil demons running the city, when warned to back down his reaction was to escalate his efforts and his attempt at arson had ended in the death of a child.

 Kaneko left behind shop windows and crowds for a residential area where her prey awaited, when she arrived at the address she wandered around the house to search for signs of life. There were children playing in a neighboring yard that spotted her and called for her attention.

 “You don’t want to go in there, missus” The boy said sternly, likely regurgitating what he had heard from his parents. “The guy who lives there is nuts.”

 “Yea! Nuts!” The little girl added as she nodded her agreement. “He screams a lot, mommy said there is something wrong with him.”

 “Not for long,” Kaneko smiled at them as she hunkered down to speak to them. She noticed the nervous mother wandering out to protect her children from the stranger that had wandered over to speak to them. She finished explaining to the children as the mother approached. “Kaneko is here to make sure he doesn’t bother you anymore.”

 “Can I help you?” Their mother asked in a tone that suggested her displeasure with anyone approaching her children. When Kaneko stood and smiled at her, the woman noticed the strange eyes and her tone changed to one of respect. “Oh, I didn’t realize.”

 “It’s okay, Kaneko is just here to take care of a problem.” Kaneko told the woman as she gestured to the house behind her. “You may want to take the little ones inside though. He is going to do his last screaming today.”

 “Let’s go inside, sweethearts.” The woman smiled at the children as she spoke to them sweetly. They waved at Kaneko, gathered their toys and walked inside without argument. The woman waited until they were inside before she turned back to the demon. “I should thank you. He scares the children.”

 “They are cute.” Kaneko purred as she turned toward the house. “No need for thanks, just go distract them while Kaneko works.”

 The woman scurried off and Kaneko approached the front door of the house. She pulled her daggers from the holster at the small at her back and spun before kicking in the front door. His reaction to the noise made her search easy, he ran to investigate and came right to her.

 “So you monsters have decided to come for me?” He pulled a knife from his pocket as Kaneko approached slowly. “And they sent a little girl?”

 “Kaneko is more than enough to take care of a pathetic little worm like you.” She giggled as he backed away awkwardly. “What’s the matter? Scared of a little girl?”

 Kaneko lunged forward knocking the knife from his hand and slammed him into the wall. He shouted curses at her as she grabbed his shoulder and threw him into a nearby chair. Using a small trick of magic, Kaneko bound him there. Thin ropes wrapped his wrist and ankles to the chair as she walked around him.

 “This is what I have been trying to warn people about.” He tried to fight against the bindings as he protested. “The Circle is evil and we have no say in our lives.”

 “Kaneko doesn’t care what you think.” She grabbed one of his fingers and smiled at him as she cut it off with her dagger. “But it’s not nice to point fingers.”

 She giggled as he screamed and she tossed the finger over her shoulder.

 “What the fuck gives you the right?” He cried as he watched the blood spilling from his hand.

 “Not what.” Kaneko blinked as she scolded him. “Who. And that would be Lord Lucifer. What gave you the right to kill a child?”

 “That was an accident!” He shouted and struggled to pull away as she grabbed a few of the fingers of his opposite hand. “I didn’t know. Please don’t do this!”

 “You accidently started a fire… with lighter fluid?” Kaneko giggled as she sliced off three more fingers and tossed them aside while he screamed. “Kaneko doesn’t like it when people hurt little kids. It makes Kaneko very angry.”

 “So you cut off my fucking fingers!?” He screamed and cried as he tried to pull out of the rope that held him to the chair. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

 “Nothing is wrong with Kaneko.” She licked the blood from the edge of her dagger. “Kaneko is having a good day.”

 “You twisted bitch.” He yelled at her and she kicked the chair over. It burst to splinters as it hit the ground and he crawled through the broken sticks with his bloodied hands as she followed him humming. As he screamed for an end to the judgment against him. “Leave me alone! Get away from me.”

 “Kaneko isn’t done yet.” She drove her curved dagger into his calf opening a deep gash as pulled him back through the remains of the chair that dug splinters into his skin. “Kaneko isn’t here for a few fingers. Kaneko is going to slice you up into itty bitty pieces.”

 She laughed as he looked at her in horror. It was always fun when they realized they were going to die. He screamed and begged her to let him live. Promised the usual change of his ways and pledged to do anything for a second chance.

 “Kaneko has a better idea!” She put away her daggers and stepped on his ankle to keep him still. As sharp pain shot through his leg he screamed and watched in horror as fire spread from under her boot. She clapped at her own genius. Her magic controlling the flames meant they would move slowly and prolong his suffering, as he slowly burned alive. “Kaneko is so clever.”

 He screamed and begged for an end to it, thrashing from the pain and trying to crawl away as his legs fell away into ash. Kaneko watched gleefully until there was not enough left of him to survive and the screaming stopped. She sped the flames and destroyed what was left of him before she cleaned herself up and left the stench of burning flesh behind.

 “That was fun.” She said to herself as she walked away from the house. As she headed back toward the busier parts of the city she started to skip again, her black tail swaying behind her, happy to be returning to the Circle and to the Master that would praise her for doing so well.

***

They returned to the circle building hand in hand and cleaned up thanks to Kaneko’s magic. Kaneko hugged Karla one last time outside the office door and promised her she had no need to worry.

“What has you upset?” Eidolon shifted to the door and lifted Karla’s chin.

“Don’t be mad.” Karla’s lip quivered as she spoke. “I broke a guys face. He called Kaneko a bitch.”

“I would have broken more than his face.” Eidolon laughed and hugged Kaneko beside him as he leaned to kiss Karla. “Don’t be upset. Come sit with me.”

“Kaneko made such a marvelous mess.” Kaneko giggled.

“I can always count on you for artistic flair, my vicious kitten.” Eidolon kissed her before he sat and let Karla climb onto his lap. He smiled as she faked an adorable pout. “What is it now?”

“I want a cute name, too.” Karla poked at his chest and he laughed.

“I wasn’t really planning on that being permanent.” Eidolon teased. “But if you insist, my delicate flower.”

“Face smasher!” Kaneko suggested playfully.

“No on both counts.” Karla laughed. “So what do you have left to do?”

“At the moment I am waiting on my new Third.” Eidolon sighed. “So long as the offer is accepted.”

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