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TCOL : Epilogue : Wandering Djinn

“How do we fit in?” Threa looked up at Ria after watching the humans for hours from a quiet rooftop. She thought of the stone like scales on her skin and frowned. “We don’t look…”

 “The demons manage.” Ria leaned and kissed her forehead. “And I think you are simply beautiful.”

 “Ifre may ruin this for all of us.” Threa clutched at Ria’s suit jacket and looked down over a strange city, their first taste of freedom.

 “I doubt that.” Ria chuckled and brushed his fingers back through her hair. “T’waer will keep Ifre in check. Besides he seems to have a fascination with the Siren. If there is trouble it will come from Li’da.”

Breakseal

“It’s cold here.” T’waer pouted. “I don’t like it.”

 “I’m pretty sure this is where they live.” Ifre created a large cloak and wrapped it around T’waer as he watched the Circle building from a distance. It had been quiet but he was sure he felt the familiar presence.

 “So what if it is?” T’waer cuddled up in her new gift. A needless gesture but she was flattered by it. “You like her or something?”

 “I just want to know more, T’waer.” Ifre looked back at her and laughed at the flakes of snow gathering in her bouncy curls. He pushed aside a handful of them from her face and smiled. “You don’t have to stay with me, you know.”

 “I want to.” T’waer blushed and the second she noticed his grin she kicked him in the shin. “Quit being a pest.”

 “What’s the big deal, Lord Talon?” A dark haired demon bounced beside another through the courtyard interrupting the Djinn in their playful exchange. Ifre quieted T’waer and listened intently. “So the twerp got roughed up. You don’t even like him.”

 “The ‘big deal’ Karas is that the twerp is mine to protect.” Talon grabbed his second by the shoulder and looked down at him sternly. “Nei may not be close to me personally, but he is our colleague. Lucifer snatched him away on personal business and sent him back useless. That witch of his wont even let me near him.”

 “So let her nurse him back to health.” Karas answered quietly. “It’s not as if he is dead. She said herself he would recover.”

 “Stand at his door.” Talon pushed Karas away in frustration. “I want to see him the second he does.”

 “No problem.” Karas straighten himself up and gave a quick respectful bow before he ran off.

 “And don’t think for a second I can’t sense you hiding there.” Talon looked in Ifre’s direction and immediately caught his gaze. “I have no patience for cowards.”

 “Cowards!?” T’waer rushed at him on a wave conjured in a rage but was stopped a few feet from him by Ifre and a well placed wall of fire. “Damn it all. Out of my way, Ifre.”

 “We were not hiding.” Ifre wrapped T’waer in a heated swirl of her own torrent and pulled her close as he spoke to an unmoved Talon. The demon had just looked on with his arms crossed casually in front of him as if he had no care in the world. “We were looking for someone.”

 “This is boring me.” Talon turned away and headed for the building.

 “We’re friends of Nei and Presia.” T’waer shouted after him.

 “That I find hard to believe.” Talon stopped at the door a moment. “Frost has no friends.”

 “We only just met.” Ifre explained.

 “Then I suggest you leave.” Talon scowled at them. “As Nei was very recently returned in a rather unpleasant state, I can only assume you mean him harm. Advance and I will destroy you.”

 “We can’t start trouble.” T’waer pulled on Ifre’s arm. “Let’s go.”

 “Another time then.” Ifre bowed his head and left Drifa. Momentarily discouraged but determined to return.

 Inside the Circle building Talon smirked and as he headed for his office shouted down the hall. “The second he wakes.”

 “I got it, Lord Talon.” Karas sighed and slumped against the door to Nei’s office once Talon was out of sight. “Well this is fun.”

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Filed under Book VII, story, The Council Of Lords

TCOL : Epilogue : Beneath

As soon as Maefyl arrived Lucifer sat aside his journal and smiled warmly. The company was expected and he was genuinely surprised his son had the patience to wait this long, further surprised when the arrival was not accompanied by shouting. Maefyl simply took a seat across from him and quietly finished his cigarette.

“I’ve sent everyone off.” Lucifer leaned forward to grab his tea and gave a soft laugh. “Go on and ask.”

“You didn’t move an entire realm for sake of nostalgia.” Despite the accusation present in his tone Maefyl answered calmly, reminding himself that his temper would only serve to make things difficult. “So what was worth hiding?”

“Protecting.” Lucifer corrected with his usual charm and a mischievous grin. “You make it seem so criminal.”

“You specialize in the criminal.” Sanguine muttered.

“Send her home Maefyl.” Lucifer stood and approached them solemnly. “I will share this only with you.”

“Sany…” Maefyl struggled with the decision. The idea of sending her off was not one he ever enjoyed and rarely even considered unless it was for her own well being.

“I’ll make you a deal.” Sanguine huffed impatiently seeing the impossible situation as a possible opportunity. “I’ll let you wander off on your own if you promise not to get into any trouble…”

“Thank you.” Maefyl whispered his gratitude. He remained as always in complete awe of her ability to see through his pain in any dilemma and do everything in her power to take some of it away.

“I wasn’t finished.” Sanguine stomped her feet angrily on his shoulder before she continued, her tiny voice cracking with emotion. “AND when you are finished here we are going to have our talk. You have been blowing me off long enough.”

“Deal.” Maefyl laughed as Sany tugged at his hair. He was starting to dread this conversation she was so insistent on having, but he imagined he was long over due for a lecture about how he had been ignoring her through all the distractions lately. “It’s a promise, Sany.”

“And you.” Sanguine fluttered up to Lucifer’s face and pouted. “Don’t make him break that promise.”

“He will be back to bother you shortly.” Lucifer smiled and waited for her hesitant departure.

“Satisfied?” Maefyl snapped at Lucifer and kicked over the neatly set table. The heartbreak evident in Sanguine’s goodbye was enough to make him lose control of the temper he’d been keeping well in check until now. “Now just spill it.”

“Come along then.” Lucifer righted the table with magic as he led Maefyl from the room. A few silent descents through the labyrinth and he opened the way into Eden; only then did he start to explain. “I want you to understand before I show you this that it has been for the good of everyone that I have kept this secret. I am entrusting it to you in hopes that you will embrace that fact.”

“I rarely agree with your idea of what is best for everyone.” Maefyl scoffed. “And your secrets have a tendency to cause an awful lot of trouble.”

“Then consider this.” Lucifer stopped over the great seal in a newly restored courtyard and faced his doubting son. “What I will show you could destroy everything.”

“Why is it never easy with you, Lucy?” Maefyl sighed. “Just once I would like to be wrong about you and…”

“That would be terribly boring.” Lucifer laughed and the seal beneath his feet glowed in a myriad of brilliant shades, pulsing brightly and growing in intensity until the light seemed to envelop them only to deposit them seconds later in darkness. “I should have probably warned you to close your eyes a moment.”

“Fuck you.” Maefyl took a moment to let his eyes adjust but it was not just the shock of the light that needed to be adjusted to. The cavern they had moved into had an atmosphere so tremendously powerful it could have crushed mortals to dust. He could taste the magic in every breath, giving a further sense of dread to the ominous setting. The cavern was like a jagged black wound in Eden, carved deep into its core and hidden away like a secret shame. The only light emanated from a strange moss covering the slick black walls, the pale greenish hue making the enormous cavern seem nearly sickly. “It reeks of magic in here.”

“This way.” Lucifer pressed onward. “The magic here is both necessary and inevitable. There are few that could even walk this hall without my protection.”

“It’s like standing in the chaos.” Maefyl noted as he walked. Speaking the fact aloud as much to keep the conversation open as to keep himself centered. The magic here clung to him and he was focusing on every detail that could help him keep control of the different flows of energy pouring into him. “How did no one notice this right under their feet?”

“The magic conceals itself.” Lucifer touched a wall in front of him and the cavern seemed to shift. “Some things seem to understand they should not be found.”

“Could you skip the theatrics?” Maefyl forced himself to grin as the air grew thicker and his head throbbed like he was hearing a million thoughts, but there were no voices here. Maefyl followed Lucifer down another twisting vein of the cavern he was certain hadn’t been there before.

“There is just one more thing you should know.” Lucifer paused suddenly.

“What is that?” Maefyl sighed impatiently.

“That I love you.” Lucifer didn’t wait for a response. The slight flush of his sons face was reward enough as he passed and touched the wall behind him. As he pressed his fingers to it the wall vanished and opened into a chamber he lovingly referred to as the Vault. He entered and beckoned Maefyl to follow. “Voldrakena Maefyl.”

“What the fuck…” Maefyl’s head was spinning. Inside the chamber were several crystal like cells held at floor in ceiling in black stone. Each of them glistening with the same dense dew that covered every surface of the room, magic so thick in the air it had condensed. The cavern was wet with it. He had only been inside for a moment and already felt it collecting on his skin, but the atmosphere so like the sea of chaos was far less disturbing the crystal cells that he stepped towards. Inside in a liquid like suspension which he could only imagine to be a more potent concoction of the magic assaulting him now were stunning creatures. As he moved closer to inspect the multi-winged mysteries he noticed the slightest hint of movement, of breathing and gasped in horror. “They are alive?”

“Of course.” Lucifer turned and stroked one of the tanks.

“What are they?” Maefyl tried to ignore his father’s grin and looked up at one of the sleeping giants. Partially concealed by their own wings folded around them, but visible enough to see that each of them was perfection. Nearly eight feet at the tallest and each with two sets of wings, save for one who had been blessed with the third set. Long, slender limbs and tails complimented each of their uniquely detailed complexions and Maefyl quickly began to realize as he admired their divinity that he knew each and every one of the seven peacefully sleeping secrets. He looked at his father sadly. “What have you done?”

“I did as you asked and showed you what was worth protecting.” Lucifer grinned at him and leaned against the tank the held his own double before he ran his fingers over a series of claw marks that marred the otherwise perfect view. “I wasn’t quite finished though. Should I continue?”

“I should kill you where you stand.” Maefyl glared at him.

“But you wont.” Lucifer tapped on the cell and the sleeping creature opened its wings enough to reveal another of it’s kind held tightly in its arms. “This one was a bit of a surprise. A pleasant one. But a surprise none the less.”

Maefyl looked up at the cell, the inside had been badly clawed but whatever tension had caused the attempts to escape seemed to be, for the moment at least, put at ease. In the arms of Lucifer’s divine double was a younger sleeping giant who bared a remarkable resemblance to him.

“No.” Maefyl stumbled backwards and slipped on the wet floor landing on his back. He stayed there staring at the ceiling and denying to himself what he had seen until Lucifer came to stand over him shaking his head. “I want answers.”

“And I’ll give them to you.” Lucifer chuckled. “But do be more careful. If you injure yourself in here, Sanguine will surely blame me.”

“What are they?” Maefyl closed his eyes and tried to forget that part of him might be floating a few feet away.

“Secrets.” Lucifer laughed. “And if want more than that out of me I need to know this is staying between us.”

“I don’t keep anything from Gabriel.” Maefyl sat up and sneered at his father.

“You will keep this.” Lucifer kicked him across the face. Maefyl hit the far wall of the cavern hard and was starting to get to his feet in a defensive manner but Lucifer ended the bravery with a swift approach and a knee to his gut leaving him again on the floor. “Or I will have to break my promise to Sanguine. Now, I’m going to trust you and send you home to Gabby. Once you’ve had time to cool off we can discuss this further.”

“That thing…” Maefyl used the slick wall to steady himself as he got to his feet. He was aching but the blows were not meant to hurt him only to make a point and Maefyl was far more focused on this room of secrets than the pain of suffering his father’s discipline. He managed to keep the tears burning his eyes from falling as he passed the sleeping creature that bore the face of his beloved and strode up to the clawed cell once more. “Lucy, is that thing…”

“You?” Lucifer squeezed Maefyl’s shoulder and rested his hand on the smooth wet surface in front of them. As he did the creature inside retracted its wings and kneeled in the tank in front of them, bringing its child into better view. As Maefyl started to weep the divinity touched the glass in front of him and Lucifer smiled. “A part of you. As much as that is a part of me. I want you to rest. We can discuss this anytime you wish. I will not lie to you, but you can not share this. Not yet.”

“I hate you.” Maefyl pulled himself to Lucifer’s chest as he slid to the ground in tears.

“I love you as well.” Lucifer held his son in an embrace of comfort and gave a nod to the god that looked on wanting to do the same. “More than I will ever be able to explain.”

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TCOL : Eden : Inherited Venom

“We shouldn’t have wandered off.” Bishop picked Neka up and looked around hopelessly for something familiar to lead them back to the others.

“Neka didn’t like them.” She pouted and rubbed her face on his shoulder. “Don’t be mad at Neka.”

“I’m not mad.” Bishop sighed. “I’m lost.”

“We’re all lost.” Farren offered his outlook as he cleaned himself up. He had managed to keep the young vampire and his Master unharmed from any attacks this far, but they had been lucky. “No one knows this place. I can’t say I would have done any differently than the girl, though. Raziel is unpleasant and his family unfriendly.”

“That’s not true.” Bishop sighed. He knew them only briefly but he had liked each of them. “I think its this place making everyone uncomfortable.”

“Neka thinks they are just useless.” She insisted as she sniffled. “Daddy says the Keeper is nothing but trouble.”

“He probably thinks the same about me.” Bishop frowned. It was not that he was particularly wounded by the fact Kage disliked him, but the fact Neka was so willing to accept her father’s ideas as her own.

“Neka loves you, though.” She squeezed around his neck and licked his face. “Daddy will like you someday.”

“How fortunate for you.” Farren patted Bishop’s back.

“Lay off.” Bishop muttered not wanting to turn the comment into another argument. “Didn’t you live here with this woman? Can you find your way?”

“I did not wander the Garden.” Farren shook his head.

“There’s something up ahead.” Vafera fluttered her wings and tugged at Bishop’s hair. To get his attention. “That way.”

In the distance there were stone structures and a clearer skyline so they started toward hopeful to put themselves on a course that would cross with their companions. Being lost in a Garden newly relocated to Hell was not high on Bishops list of things to try and he would gladly give it up the adventure quickly. He was also afraid is they were attacked by more than a few of the armor clad angels, Farren would be overwhelmed and there was no way he could protect the girl on his own.

The structures were in ruins, but what remained sat around a large circular center and Bishop hoped they could wait there for the others and sped his pace.

“Carefully.” Farren pulled Bishop by his sleeve. “Someone is nearby. I smell blood.”

“That’s disgusting.” Bishop answered quietly.

“Don’t even pretend that you can’t smell it, too.” Farren smiled and shook his head as they moved into the courtyard. “Vampire.”

“Oh. It’s just you.” Nei smirked at them and rested his arms around Presia.

“We ended up separated.” Bishop explained sheepishly. “Do you know where anyone else is?”

“You look like shit.” Nei raised an eyebrow at his young vampiric child in disappointment. “You haven’t fed.”

“No.” Bishop looked away embarrassed and not even sure if that was an appropriate emotion to be feeling. “It didn’t seem like a priority.”

“Well, it is. You have to feed, you hopeless fuck.” Nei shook his head and lifted Presia to her feet as he stood. “You aren’t going to be useful to anyone if you don’t.”

“You be nice to Bishop.” Neka hissed at Nei and shot blades of chaos in his direction, pouting when arrogant vampire dodged aside with Presia. “He can eat when he wants to.”

“So how bad is the pain?” Nei ignored the attack and continued his fatherly chat with Bishop.

“I can deal with it.” Bishop ran his fingers through Neka’s hair and tried to smile. “I don’t really want to talk about this in front of the kid.”

“In front of that kid?” Nei laughed. “The Viper’s daughter? In a year she’ll be deadlier than you or I could ever hope to be.”

“I would never hope to be deadly.” Bishop shuddered. “I don’t want to be.”

“You hurt, Bishop?” Neka looked at him with her mismatched eyes and tears fell down her cheeks. “Neka doesn’t want you to hurt. Why do you hurt?”

“Because he won’t feed.” Nei explained plainly as he started to head out of the courtyard with Presia on his arm. “And if he doesn’t want my advice, he doesn’t need my company.”

“Wait.” Bishop just fell to his knees and held Neka tighter as he tried his hardest not to cry. He wanted to protect her and couldn’t on his own. He hated to cave to an obvious manipulation and he wanted little to do with the ‘feeding’ that they wanted to push on him, but it was becoming unbearable just to stand and he needed to look after Neka. “What am I supposed to do?”

“Lucifer made it easy for you.” Farren kneeled beside Bishop and squeezed his shoulder. “You don’t have to be deadly. Just thirsty. I’m here when you need it.”

Bishop had been struggling for hours. So much that he was scaring himself with how well he could smell the blood in Neka’s veins. He couldn’t fight the thirst anymore with an offer made so plainly. He covered Neka’s eyes with the fingers of one hand and with the other pulled Farren closer by his shirt and bit into the side of his neck.

Farren held Bishop through it. He was amused that it was the attacker and not the victim shaking. Further amused by the little girl peeking through Bishops fingers with an excited expression and a tail twitching behind her enthusiastically.

“Now, was that so bad?” Nei laughed.

“What is this place?” Bishop didn’t want to be taunted over it. He wanted to forget what he had just done and that he liked it. He gave Neka a quick squeeze to pre-empt any inquiries and jumped headlong into a discussion he hoped would provide adequate distance from the topic of his fangs.

“I believe it was part of some sort of complex.” Presia admired the crests on the ground. “A large communal estate of sorts. Their home. Or at least part of it. But it seems detached. Like a mask.”

“Or a doorway.” Farren offered quietly.

“Seems too obvious for that.” Bishop used Farren’s shoulder to steady himself as he stood. He felt like he had been drinking, the world shifted in the wrong direction as he walked and his feet seemed too heavy, his head too light. His mind was astonishingly clear however and he gave them what reason he could see for moving on. “It’s more like a distraction. If there were a door to something in this place it would be subtle.”

“Could be buried eighty feet deep or standing eighty feet tall and surrounded in flashing lights, it doesn’t matter a bit of a fuck to me.” Nei grinned. “Presia says a door is going to open. A door is going to open. In the meantime, your little kittens’ Daddy and his friends are off having all the fun without me.”

“You find this shit amusing?” Bishop held Neka’s hand as they followed. “What is wrong with you?”

“With me?” Nei giggled. “There is nothing wrong with me. I find battle exciting, what I find amusing is that you managed to sell yourself into slavery to the Viper’s kid. You clearly weren’t looking for my gift, so what did you get out of the bargain?”

“Bishop is Neka’s friend.” She hissed and kicked the back of Nei’s legs until Bishop picked her up and she cried against him. “Neka loves Bishop.”

“Love?” Nei turned and grabbed the thin leash that she had wrapped around her hand that led to Bishop’s collar. “Is that what this is?”

“He is Neka’s.” Neka tugged the cord away. “Bishop has to stay with Neka forever.”

“Leave her alone.” Bishop insisted softly. “It isn’t her fault. And doesn’t your girl call you ‘Lord’? Isn’t that just the way it is with you people?”

“Enough.” Presia smacked Bishop across his face. “It is not the title or even the leash that my Lord Frost has taken issue with. I am by all rights his property. The greatest Master however is one who loves and respects his pets. The companionship born through that mutual respect can be very powerful, very beautiful.”

“She is just a little girl.” Bishop defended.

“With a very well informed mind I assure you.” Presia smiled and turned her attention to Neka as she spoke her advice. “Still young enough to make decisions that will forever affect her. Ask yourself little Viper, do you want a slave? Or a friend?”

“Neka wants Bishop.” She gnawed on the cord nervously.

“Neka, I’m not going anywhere.” Bishop hugged her close as he stopped a moment to sit and comfort her. He pulled the leash from her mouth and tapped her chin with it. “Don’t do that. You’ll make your Father mad. I don’t want you in trouble. You don’t have to listen to them.”

“Thrones!” Farren unleashed his attacks on as many as he could before he lifted Bishop and Neka to safety from a second onslaught.

“May I join you, my Lord?” Presia giggled as her attire changed and a matching set of sheathed blades appeared at her hip and on her back. Nei backed up to her and drew his blades and she could feel his heart racing.

“I’ve missed this.” Nei spoke through a wicked grin. “Stay close.”

“Always.” Presia nodded and a thick blue ribbon lengthened between them and wrapped their waists. A physical reminder in the heat of battle of the limit to their bond before they would cause one another pain.

“Wow!” Neka flushed as she watched Presia fighting beside Nei. They moved like water together. Even though they were so close and fighting so many different enemies, never stumbling over each other, never hindering each other.

Farren fought those he could when they were close enough, defended Bishop and Neka when they were attacked. The sudden surge in attackers was bothersome. He was sure there had not been this many before. Sachiel must have gotten unsure of herself and doubled her forces. He had feared for his daughter in the hands of Sachiel’s madness, now he worried for the girl being caught in the battle they had brought to Eden. He watched Bishop holding Neka and desperately hoped someone was protecting Evadia.

“Not a great time to get distracted.” Nei taunted Farren as he and Presia came to their aid.

“It’s like they are after her.” Bishop gratefully accepted Presia’s arm around them and the shield of protection she spread over them.

“These are newly called Choirs.” Farren pulled Nei into Presia’s protection before unleashing a mist of rot into the air that quickly worked it’s decay on the coming attackers. “Likely sent to find a child in Eden…”

“Meaning your daughter is lost out here, too.” Bishop sighed. “We should look for her then.”

“No, we should do what we came here to do.” Nei corrected him quickly. “Your pal is gonna sniff his way to his old girlfriend so I can quit this miserable Garden and go back to Drifa.”

“I was only ever in the estate.” Farren turned away.

“Which should make it the easiest fucking place to find.” Nei chuckled and sheathed his swords. The break in the attacks had made them all relax just enough to get sloppy and he noticed the last of the attackers a second too late to do anything other than prevent it from hurting the others. He squeezed Presia’s fingers as he watched the angel’s blade emerge from his chest and only scratch Bishop’s face.

“Lord Frost!” Presia took him in one arm and set fire to his attacker with the other. “Hold on, Nei. Please.”

“Why did I do that?” Nei stumbled from the loss of blood as Presia pulled the blade back through the wound. He could see fear and gratitude on Bishop’s face and silently wished the best for his unfortunate son.

“To save your child, my Lord. And the one he holds dear.” Presia spoke sweetly and filled his wounds with magic as tears ran down her face. “You did well.”

“It was fucking stupid.” Nei closed his eyes and listened to the sounds of life returning to Eden.

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TCOL : Eden : Homecoming Pt.2

In its current state Eden was unwelcoming. Eidolon could barely recognize it as the home they shared so long ago, but it was still painful to be returning after so long only to cover the gates in blood. Even if this pale illusion of their home was only a silent breath of Eden, it was still a part of it and it was unpleasant to taint the beauty of it this way.

He almost regretted leaving Kage alone with Lilith. He could only imagine the pain he felt further agitated by Lilith’s provocation. Even love of Lucifer would not stay Kage’s temper forever.

“That’s not it at all.” Eidolon laughed at himself as he cleaned blood from his blade. He was cursed with an overly active mind and his thoughts never left him at peace. It was only when he was alone that it bothered him. He had left Eternity to look after his brides and leaving Kage in Lilith’s hands left him to slaughter on his own. He realized that his concern for Kage was his way of making excuses to go back so he would not be alone with his thoughts and he muttered to himself as he moved onward. “When did you become so selfish?”

“I thought all you Watcher types were selfish.” Donovan smacked away a branch and noticed his sleeve was torn. “Damn it. I like this jacket.”

“I can fix it.” Mala grinned and bowed his head politely to Eidolon. “I don’t suppose you left us anything in that direction, Lord Falcon?”

“I see that Gabriel’s Lancers are in no way lacking for their years of inactivity.” He was glad for the distracting arrival. Eidolon smiled at the blood covered twins standing beside their adoring companions and felt completely overwhelmed by Gabriel’s talent for creation. The two of them were marvelous. Aesthetically divine and trained to be deadly, but there was a kindness in the two of them he could feel even now as they stood dripping with the blood of angels. “Nothing, I’m afraid. I would not mind the company moving on.”

“How many of these poor souls did she call?” Myrt sighed as he leapt in sync with his brother to end the life of another naïve soldier. As it dissolved at their feet they turned to hear the deathly scream of a second angel that had attacked from behind them and was meeting a rather violent end. Myrt shifted to Caleb and pulled him into his arms as he watched. “Are you okay?”

“I’m good.” Caleb nodded but kept his eyes fixed on the vampire that had managed to wrestle the Power to its’ knees. When it lunged at Caleb he thought it was over, but in an instant Donovan had broken its’ wings and tore into its’ throat. Now he had sliced open the creatures abdomen and bled it while he fed. “He got to it before it got to me.”

“Messy.” Mala drove his fingers into the wound Donovan had opened and claimed the chaos, obliterating the angels form. He crouched in front of Donovan smiling and grabbed one of his ears. “You are such a brute.”

“Lucifer does find some interesting choices for his Circles.” Eidolon sighed. He had watched quietly to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his new team and found them to be unexpectedly impressive. “Well done, Donovan.”

“You could have helped.” Donovan wiped his face and sighed knowing it had been a sort of test of their abilities. “I’m not completely useless in a fight, but Caleb…”

“I’m not…” Caleb started to protest until he found himself silenced by the warmth of Myrt’s kiss.

“No one expects you to fight.” Myrt whispered against Caleb’s lips. “I just want you here with me.”

“What made you all accept this risk?” Eidolon smiled and turned to continue onward.

“We couldn’t let the boss go alone.” Donovan explained. He didn’t want to get sentimental over it with a stranger. They were a family in Nihil and he didn’t need the acceptance of another Watcher to validate it. It had always been his way to mask his deeper emotions with a colder wit and he was not about to change it now. “E would get him into trouble. Trouble for the boss is trouble for us.”

“I came for Mala.” Myrt shrugged off the question easily as if it should never need to be asked.

“I go where he goes.” Caleb smiled as he clung to Myrt’s arm. “What about you, honey? This worth the risk for you?”

“Protecting Tsuriai?” Eidolon laughed. “Undoubtedly.”

“That yea.” Caleb frowned. “But I meant playing what is obviously a game. If your buddy Lucifer can move this whole place into Hell, why couldn’t he just….”

“Don’t.” Eidolon stopped and turned to face Caleb. His own thoughts had already wandered into the darker corners of grim possibilities and he did not need the help of a child to see the obvious. “I have known Lucifer all my life. He has his reasons. At the moment our only task is to rid Tsuriai of Sachiel and that is what we are going to do.”

“Without questioning?” Caleb pouted.

“Without question.” Eidolon nodded. “If you all came in support of Vikarr, who has taken a place on the Council and agreed to this course, then honor him by doing what is necessary.”

“Come on, angel.” Donovan sighed as he took Mala’s hand and moved onward. Eidolon followed once Caleb nodded his understanding and they continued through the Garden on their slaughter.

“Has anyone else noticed.” Myrt asked suddenly while wiping Caleb’s cheek clean.

“Yes.” Eidolon sheathed his blade and closed his eyes. The gates of Eden were quiet. “Presia’s song has ended.”

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TCOL : Eden : A Silent Garden Pt.1

“My head feels funny.” Karla stumbled as they took their first steps into Eden and Eidolon steadied her as he took in the situation. She was not alone in her plight, they were all being touched by the haze of Sachiel’s magic. The weakest among them were struck nearly blind by it, clinging to their loves fearful that they had actually lost sight and taking comfort in the assurance that it was only a trick.

“If there was any doubt before now, it can be put to rest.” Eidolon sighed. Sachiel had often been called on to manipulate the minds of humans and more susceptible creatures for her god. She had a remarkable talent for creating suggestive thoughts and planting ideas then erasing any hint that she had been there. “None but the Ghost have this much sway.”

“Iehovah’s phantom is only a pest, Eidolon.” Lucifer chuckled. “You give her far too much credit and the small army we have brought boasts far greater talents.”

“I guess that’s where you come in, you pretty thing.” Nei kissed Presia’s fingers and smiled at her. It was clear why Lucifer had summoned the most talented of the Sirens. The skill of Presia’s song could manipulate the mind, but she could also counter the spells of others that did the same. She could protect the minds of her companions from the cloud of fear and confusion Sachiel was trying to hide behind.

“Eden lend me your strength.” Presia spoke to the garden and gathered the wealth of assistance it gave. It seemed even Eden itself was eager to have the trespassers expelled and was going to lend its aid to their cause. She fueled her gifts with the power of the nature around her and breathed deeply before beginning a song that melted away the dark clouds in the minds of the others. As she sang and their senses returned some of them turned their attention to her aria and her smile made her song even warmer.

“That’s pretty handy.” Azazel giggled.

“The Siren will render some of Sachiel’s magic useless.” Kage cautioned them against overconfidence. “Still it is best for most of you to keep your distance, this distraction was a small taste of her capabilities.”

“You can all have fun discussing bullshit.” Maefyl leapt into the air drawing his swords as he shouted his intentions. He was not going to wait a second longer to do what he came to do. “I’m ending this.”

“Not going to run after him?” Lucifer smirked at Gabriel.

“No.” Gabriel would know if Maefyl needed him and they had already discussed the need for discretion in Eden. “I’ll be staying very close to you during this battle, Lucy.”

“Should I be wounded or flattered?” Lucifer laughed.

“You should be grateful.” Gabriel smiled and drew a sword and scythe from the chaos as his attire shifted to the robes he had long ago abandoned. Crimson and white draped around him and his hair fell loose. “I could have stayed at home.”

“Volbaken.” Azrael bit his lip as he stared at Gabriel. “IsaAnku saba supani parakibi.”

“Daddy?” Asura walked up to Gabriel as he folded his wings to his back. She smiled like a child suddenly and leapt against him in an excited embrace. “You look amazing!”

“Flap, Flap!” Neka squealed and bit her tongue as she concentrated on trying to make wings of her own and instead became a winged kitten and flapped in front of Kage blinking. “Neka did it wrong.”

“You did beautifully.” Kage patted her head and glared past her at Bishop. “You have no hope of keeping up with me. Keep her close and stay with my daughter, Kaneko.”

“Kyaa! That’s not fair!” Kaneko hissed. “He is going to slow Kaneko down!”

“I was going to do that anyway.” Karla tugged Kaneko’s tail. “But I’ll make sure to keep everybody out of your way.”

“Nyaa.” Kaneko licked Karla’s nose and smiled up at Eidolon. “Are you going to run off, Master Eidolon?”

“I am.” Eidolon squeezed them both to him and kissed them each softly. As long as Presia’s song kept their minds protected, Kaneko was clear enough to look after them and they would likely be in the company of others while Zakesalek saw to the worst of Eden’s pests. “Don’t get into too much trouble. Eternity will stay with you.”

“Come along, Falcon.” Kage hissed. “We have angels to slaughter.”

Kage and Eidolon vanished into the quiet forests of Eden to begin clearing the Garden of nuisances. There was an eerie silence in the once life filled branches, even as they felled several of Sachiel’s guardians there was barely a sound beyond the haunting beauty of Presia’s song.

“What a waste.” Kage hissed. “All these ridiculous lessers scattered everywhere. A useless display of power.”

“One that we are using to our advantage.” Eidolon laughed. As they cleared the Garden of Choirs they absorbed each of them and strengthened themselves, each one giving them power they intended to unleash on Sachiel. “What she has used so carelessly will be used against her. Can I ask you something, Viper?”

“If it is about that damned boy…” Kage hissed.

“Sounds like it will be a long conversation.” Eidolon grinned. He crushed a Throne to the ground just as Lilith arrived beside him and gave him a strange nod he interpreted as a request for his departure. When Kage gave him a quick glance and sighed; Eidolon decided to go off on his own and leave the two of them to work. “It can wait.”

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TCOL : Eden : Those Who Will Stand At The Gates Pt.1

“Was I unclear?” Kage shouted over the chatter. “Only Zakesalek will make this journey. Why are the rest of you imbeciles still here.”

“Oh, you were clear.” Asura smirked. “We just aren’t listening. We started this journey as a Council. Our families have all been involved since it started. We all go.”

“Even if Council were permitted, the rest of this rabble is not setting foot in Eden.” Kage insisted. “Send them home.”

“Is your kid going?” Eliza crossed her arms in front of her. Even without his behavior now, Eliza hardly needed a reason to hate Kage after what he had done to Vale. “Fucking hypocrite.”

“Vikarr, silence her.” Kage rubbed his forehead a moment and patted Neka’s head as she stood beside him.

“She will be nice if you will.” Vikarr giggled as he wrapped his fingers over Eliza’s mouth. They were both bitter over the loss of Vale. “This is not yet a meeting, but play nice.”

Lucifer’s audience hall was filled with chatter as they waited; the entire Council and those that loved them gathered to tackle the ordeal with a sort of fearless eagerness that was very nearly touching. Even to the Viper who hid his amusement with his vicious hiss. It was unfortunate that the touching scene was somewhat soured by the arrival of another guest whose arrival was as unexpected as it was unwanted.

“Now this is quite the party.” Nei strolled in confidently with Presia on his arm. “I should be hurt that this is the first time I’ve been invited.”

“Tch.” Kage glared at the vampire. “And who was it that invited you, Nei?”

“Your Lord and husband sent for us.” Presia politely explained their presence.

“So curtsy and play proper hostess.” Nei laughed. “And please Mrs. Lucifer. Call me Frost.”

“Keep it zipped you mouthy little fuck.” Maefyl kicked Nei in the back and knocked him to the floor, giving Presia a nod to explain his intent was to prevent a much more vicious attack from Kage. “I’m sure it wasn’t your mouth Lucy invited you for.”

“I love the both of you.” Kage stroked the girls’ ears when Kaneko came to hug him. He spoke softly and each of his daughters smiled at him. “Go play.”

“He has yet to feed.” Farren whispered to Kage as he followed steps behind Bishop and his young Master.

“Then I suggest you take care of it.” Kage sneered. “Don’t pester me about it. Just bleed.”

Farren shook his head and followed Bishop. In pain, ripped from a simple life and thrown into slavery. Smiling. Catering to the whim of the bright eyed child of a Watcher without complaint. Only ever making himself heard when it was for her benefit. Farren wished he could find that kind of peace with his fate and hoped that when Evadia was saved, she too would have someone as kind to hold her hand.

“You are uniquely quiet, Samael.” Eidolon watched Kaneko teasing her sister and let Karla cling to his arm as he opened a discussion he hoped would remain peaceful. “Any thoughts.”

“We are just eager to see the gates of Eden.” Samael held Shiroi in front of him and smiled as Azrael bit the end of his ear. “Knowing that we will be painting them in blood makes the homecoming bittersweet.”

“As if slaughter has ever soured your mood.” Raziel interrupted.

“Now, now.” Vikarr teased. “Same team, remember.”

“Some team.” Sanguine huffed from Maefyl’s shoulder. “This bunch couldn’t agree on cake or cookies for a party.”

“Why not both?” Asura suggested.

“An excellent point, Asura.” Lucifer arrived with Lilith and fueled the fire of anxious tension in the room. “Why not have it all?”

“Some of us are content with a cup of tea and the company of those we love.” Gabriel hooked his arm through Maefyl’s and whispered his plea for at least some good behavior.

“My Lord.” Kage bowed his head a moment when Lucifer approached his throne. As Lilith sat Kage felt Lucifer’s fingertips under his chin and looked into the eyes he loved to drown in. No trace of worry or doubt in those eyes, just a confidence and warmth that made Kage feel nearly ashamed to speak further complaints. “I tried to make them see reason. I asked them to leave.”

“Look at them, Kevas.” Lucifer grinned and slid his fingers around Kage’s tie. “Gathered together for a common cause, finally becoming the Council they should be.”

“Would that be the Council of the pissed off?” Maefyl flicked a cigarette to the floor.

“Unified.” Lucifer corrected. “I hope to keep it that way. So enough bickering.”

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TCOL : Connections : Bishop

“Are you okay?” Neka crouched in front of Bishop and patted his head as he laid on the floor. He just squeezed his eyes closed and she whimpered. “Are you mad at Neka?”

“Not at you.” Bishop muttered.

“I suggest you adjust to this quickly.” Kage sneered down at the boy. “If all your continued existence is going to accomplish is upsetting my daughter, I will very much enjoy revoking the gift you’ve been given.”

“Some gift.” Bishop opened his eyes and focused on the floor in front of him. Detail he never would have considered or imagined in the stone was now somehow fascinating. He turned his gaze up at Neka and felt defeated by his own bitterness. Seeing the girl so concerned over him swept away everything else and he sat up and hugged her. “I’m sorry. Don’t cry. I’ll get used to this.”

“I’m uncertain whether to think of you as one of humanities best or worst.” Farren chuckled quietly as he sat against the wall watching the touching scene. “You cave so quickly to the whims of a child.”

“Coming from one who slaughtered on behalf of a woman.” Kage hissed. “You would do well to remember your life is in his hands. I am not all that happy to suffer the continued presence of either of you.”

“Tell me you aren’t taking her on this outing.” Bishop chose to ignore his urge to inform the demon that the feeling was very much mutual and focus on his concern for the relieved child that clung too him and pulled at his hair. “It’s no place for a little girl.”

“You suggest I instead leave her in the care of her bloodthirsty pet and the traitor bound to it?” Kage glared at him. “My daughter will be in no danger if she is with me and your opinion on the matter is unneeded and insulting.”

“Right.” Bishop sighed.

“Teach Neka more songs.” She bounced on Bishop’s lap and tugged the ends of his hair as she swung her tail. “Neka wants to play.”

“Give her some time to play, Kage.” Lucifer hooked his arm through Kage’s and pulled at him gently. “You can not watch her every second of her life or she will start to resent you.”

“I won’t have her first hours without me corrupted by these two…” Kage was silenced by Lucifer’s kiss.

“Let me put this another way, Kevas.” Lucifer grinned as he let Kage right himself. The tie slipping through his fingers as the words slid from his tongue. “Vade hala de, baat.”

“Tek, det Vasun.” Kage was reluctant to leave his child but had missed his time with Lucifer too much to protest. “Have Lilith look in on them.”

“Of course.” Lucifer grinned. “Neka, you should show your pet to some of Lilith’s gardens.”

“Okay!” Neka pulled Bishop’s leash as she stood and waited for him to drag himself to his feet. She watched Farren join him and offer to keep him steady on his feet and giggled as Bishop refused the offer. “Neka thinks you two are funny. Let’s go play.”

“How am I supposed to deal with this?” Bishop whispered to Farren as Neka bounced along in front of them, tugging at his leash as she led them through hallways where stone monsters taunted the both of them. “I hurt.”

“Their plan is for me to keep you fed.” Farren sighed and took Bishop by his elbow as they kept pace with the exuberant child. “Another bit of atonement for the damage I’ve done. For Evadia I would suffer far worse. I have no doubt this was not in your plans, but you care for that girl. You will deal with this for her.”

“I don’t like it.” Bishop hung his head.

“Like what?” Neka turned and looked up at him grinning.

“Nothing, sweetheart.” Bishop smiled. “Where is this garden?”

“Carry Neka.” She threw her arms up toward him and Bishop obliged the request. As she pointed the way she tried to comfort her pet over his new gift. “Don’t be sad, Bishop. Neka’s sister and brother are vampires, too. Neka wants to have a stabby smile when she grows up, too!”

“I’m not certain your dear father would enjoy hearing that.” Farren laughed beside them as they walked through the doors that opened into an immense garden. “Remarkable…”

“This is one of Lilith’s little gardens.” Neka pulled one of the flowers they walked past and started to chew on it. “She loves flowers. Do you like flowers, Bishop?”

“I guess.” Bishop muttered. He had never given them much thought, but even without knowing the name of a single bloom in this botanical marvel, he was impressed by it. Vibrant colors set amongst the varied hues of greens that caught the strange light of Hell’s sky and burst with a luster that he would have never imagined before now. He wasn’t sure if it was this place, or seeing with new senses that made it so beautiful; he only knew he could spend hours under the branches here content with nothing but the view and the sweet perfume of the blossoms that grew around them.

“Don’t eat all of my orchids, Neka.” Lilith pulled Neka’s tail playfully when she walked past them to the edge of a set of stone planters that served as seating. As Bishop followed with the girl giggling in his arms Lilith sat and folded her hands on her knee. “Are you enjoying your gift?”

“I love it.” Neka squeezed around Bishop before she popped to her feet and hugged Lilith. “Thank you, Mama.”

“You are very welcome.” Lilith squeezed Neka beside her and took a bit of Bishop’s leash in her fingers. “But I was asking your pet.”

“You left out quite a few details about this arrangement, Mistress.” Bishop crouched and hung his head. At the very least the cunning woman had known from the first breath that his time with Neka would not be short. He hoped she had some deeper purpose for choosing him. “I don’t know that it is a gift, but I don’t want to offend you by answering before I even understand what is going on.”

“I couldn’t give you details I was unsure of.” Lilith chuckled. “Any number of things could have changed the outcome. I could not give you certainty that my Lord Lucifer or the Viper would accept you here at all. Or that Neka would. I most certainly did not expect the involvement of Frost and that Siren of his.”

“I don’t understand any of you.” Bishop sighed. “But I like Neka. I’ll look out for her.”

“And how about you, traitor?” Lilith grinned up at Farren. “You seem eager to play hero for your child, but once Evadia is out of harms way?”

“I would give my life to save hers.” Farren nodded respectfully to the Dark Mistress. “And I have. My sacrifice may not have ended my life, but I came to repent. This boys thirst is going to be my prison. Your Dark Lord made certain I can not stray far from my cage.”

“Nyaa!” Neka squealed as she jumped at Bishop and changed into a white kitten and clawed her way up to his shoulder purring. The leash still wrapped around her front leg had thinned to accommodate her smaller form and she rubbed against Bishop’s neck as she peeked into his hair. “Come out little bug. Neka saw you.”

“Bug?” Bishop reached into the hair behind his neck and felt a gentle flutter that startled him before he felt the thin limbs latch around his fingers to escape the kitten that reached for it. When he pulled his hand in front of him a fairy smiled back. “Where did you come from?”

“Maefyl’s shoulder was spoken for.” Vafera giggled. “I thought I would try yours out.”

“Bishop’s shoulders are Neka’s.” The kitten purred. “You have to ask Neka first.”

“This week can’t get any weirder.” Bishop shook his head. If it weren’t for the way he ached he would have sworn he was having some bizarre nightmare and he would wake up to his usual routine, but he knew better. All the pain he had felt was real, all the tears he had shed really fell. He was now the property of the demon on his shoulder, caretaker of an angel who betrayed all of Tsuriai and had a fairy wrapped around his fingers asking for friendship. He had lost family and friends and been swept into a frightening new life before he could even process the idea of mourning and seen Lucifer and his demons at odds with the future of Tsuriai. Bishop never thought his life would be anything spectacular. He never wanted it to be. He just wanted to be a good person and do the right thing. His morals led him here. A confused immortal with no more than a sense of decency to lead him forward. Bishop pet Neka and smiled as he hoped the right thing was not going to lead him down the wrong path. “I have two shoulders. What is your name?”

“Vafera.” The fairy smiled. “I can stay?”

“I’m not opposed.” Bishop nodded. “But I don’t make the rules.”

“When it comes to fairies, no one does.” Lilith laughed. “I’ll see to it Kage and Lord Lucifer are aware of our new arrival.”

“I realize I am not in a position to ask.” Farren looked to Lilith a moment before he carefully considered his words. He just could not seem to leave the question unanswered. They could have created any sort of companion to fill the girl’s time. Even among existing servants more docile, loyal company had to be available, and definitely less likely to be so offensive to her father. “But if you would grant the favor, Mistress; I am puzzled.”

“As am I.” Lilith grinned.

“I realize you are as keen to see my end as Kage and Lucifer.” Farren smiled. He could see in her eyes the distaste for his interruption; for his presence. “My intent isn’t to pry. I’m just curious. Why a human boy to begin with?”

“Why not?” Lilith laughed. There was no need for secrecy and Bishop was entitled to the answer he clearly wanted as he glanced at her. “The boy is impressive. I like him. Neka needs companionship beyond that of her father. As much as I enjoy seeing the Viper so irritated by this, it is actually meant to help him as well. My Lord Lucifer needs his Viper, Neka needs to develop beyond his tightly coiled embrace. Bishop is about as kind as humans are capable of, he is a rarity among the race and has suffered to keep himself above the petty nonsense that swallow most of their existence. If any human can help Neka see their worth, it is Bishop.”

“Wanted to show her human worth then saw to it he was no longer human.” Farren laughed. “So her first lesson is to corrupt the pure and decent.”

“A charming observation on your part.” Lilith smiled and admired Bishop’s way with Neka and his new companion as she scolded Farren for his hypocrisy. “Considering the work of angels past and your predilection to destroy beautiful things without regret. You have little say in what is pure and decent. Maefyl’s gift hasn’t taken either quality from Bishop.”

“Merely pointing out the obvious, my Lady of Darkness.” Farren bowed mockingly. “You brought him here as a human for his rarity among them. Now he is no longer human or rare.”

“Both of you quit it.” Bishop insisted quietly. He was making every effort to ignore the ache spreading through him as he tried to end another fight before it began. He hated all the fighting the girl was subjected to, he didn’t want to be the source of it. “The obvious doesn’t need to be pointed out and there is no point in bickering over what has already been done. I am what I am.”

“And you are still very much the kind and patient boy I brought here.” Lilith smiled at the young fairy sneaking across his collar to Neka’s shoulder to make friends. “The very sweet newling on your shoulder seems to agree.”

“Neka likes your new friend, Bishop.” Neka rubbed against his neck and purred as she wrapped Vafera in a fuzzy embrace. “She smells nice. Just don’t make too many friends. Neka doesn’t want to share you.”

“You make the rules, sweety.” Bishop smiled, but there was something in her words that scared him. As young as she was, as sweet and innocent, her time with her family had already instilled many of their ideals. The childlike possession over him could in time become something terrifying. It gave him chills when he thought of her father’s cold gaze and realized her eyes might one day be just as filled with hatred and ice.

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