Tag Archives: Watchers

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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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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TCOL : Eden : Broken Locks Pt.1

“Confident are we?” Gabriel leaned against a large broken pillar and sighed as he watched Lucifer blink a dozen thrones out of existence. “Is there even a point to this farce any longer?”

“Whatever do you mean, Gabby?” Lucifer chuckled. “Can’t I enjoy this? We swallow pride and defeat, but only taste victory? Seems like a poor dietary decision. I can’t stomach the idea of it. I’ll feast on my accomplishments and anyone foolish enough to get in the way of them.“

“And what are you trying to accomplish, Lucy?” Gabriel sighed. “What great victory will there be in this?”

“We are defeating a villain and saving the world, Gabby!” Lucifer clapped his hands together as he spun to face Gabriel and three angels behind him burst into flames and fell to ash. “What better victory could there be?”

“You still intend to lie to me?” Gabriel scowled. “I can smell you in every corner of this place. You’ve broken your promise to me. To all of us.”

“Not so much broken.” Lucifer walked past Gabriel smiling. “Those promises hinged on a truce that we have all broken. Besides I only said I would leave the rest of your seals in place, not my own.”

“You left yourself a back door?” Gabriel rested his forehead against his fingertips.

“Did you honestly think I would give up Eden?” Lucifer laughed. “I just need one of you fools to bleed here.”

“Try it, Lucy.” Gabriel held the hilt of his sword tightly, ready to draw.

“I’m not going to attack you.” Lucifer shifted behind Gabriel and hugged him. “I doubt I’ll have to. I imagine Raziel will manage to make himself useful and stupidly get himself mangled protecting one of those lovely morsels of his, but I don’t understand why you are so opposed to seeing Eden restored.”

“Don’t you mean unleashed?” Gabriel smirked. “How strong have they gotten?”

“They are wonderful, Gabby.” Lucifer chuckled. “And they still won’t behave for me.”

“You are a fool, Lucy.” Gabriel sighed.

“I prefer foolishness to boredom.” Lucifer listened as Sachiel barked her orders to find the child. “Though prudence has its merit, until that little asset has been acquired we let Sachiel wait. I like knowing where all the pieces are before I make my move.”

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TCOL : Eden : A Silent Garden Pt.3

“Kyaa!” Kaneko ripped her blades through a Principalities back, tearing through it’s wings as she pulled them up and kicked it to the ground before turning to open the throat of another attacker. “Ridiculous angels should know better than to fuck with Kaneko!”

“Nyaa!” Neka wiggled about happily as she clung to Bishop. “Neka wants to play, too!”

“I’m supposed to keep you safe.” Bishop hugged her tightly. Watching the vicious and chipper sister of the girl in his arm slaughter creatures so carelessly was unnerving enough on its own, but seeing how Neka admired her for it was frightening. The violence he wanted to protect her from seemed to run in her veins. He could feel her heart racing as she watched. Bishop forced himself to ignore the fact he could smell the blood in her as well as the blood Kaneko had splattered them all with and he smiled at Neka sweetly. “I can’t let you help this time. Maybe when you get a little taller.”

“Thrones.” Raziel warned and pushed his more vulnerable puppets into a protective barrier with the others he let Galik unleash his fiercer form. As Galik moved with bewildering speed through the trees and caught one of the powerful creatures by the neck with his tail Raziel sliced through it with thousands of strands of chaos.

“Go, Galik! Go, Razzy!” Van cheered them on excitedly as she swung Frikk and Frakk by their feet. She glanced over at Shana cringing as Raziel tore the wings from another angel. “Aren’t they amazing?”

“I guess I forget sometimes what we married.” Shana nodded. It wasn’t so much the gore that made her wince, but the ease with which they killed. Each death was brutal and unforgiving, intentionally cruel. And then forgotten as if they had just shooed away a fly. Raziel had no remorse for a single soul he absorbed and Galik seemed to enjoy it.

“I don’t.” Brig kissed Shana on her cheek and patted the heads of the fargoyles she cradled in her arms. He never forgot what demons were capable of. What Raziel was capable of. He had just found his way past needing to dwell on it. “And it’s who, not what. Don’t make him mad, ShaSha.”

“Weird family.” Karla muttered as she wiped Kaneko’s face. “It’s like they are scared of him.”

“Kaneko thinks they are just confused because he always looks like this.” Kaneko straightened her face until Karla laughed. She hugged her tight and ran off through Raziel’s protection and pounced on another of the soldiers trying to break through it. “Kyaa! Kaneko was busy!”

“And you think that we are weird?” Brig smirked.

“Ugh.” Van sneered. “Just ignore them. I don’t get why we got stuck babysitting anyway.”

“Your Lord Raziel offered to look after Neka.” Farren sighed as he watched the battle restlessly. He wanted to lend his aid, but having to stay so close to Bishop limited his options.

“Kaneko behind you!” Karla screamed and tears of relief fell as Kaneko kicked her feet behind her and knocked her would be attacker away. Her relief quickly turned to shock when Farren stepped past her through the barrier and wrapped his fingers around the angels neck. The winged soldier convulsed and its skin started to crack and bleed. “What are you doing to it?”

“I can’t stray far from the boy.” Farren shrugged as he stole life from the rotting angel. He hoped he could at least offer enough defense to let Raziel work to his full potential. “But I can destroy anything that gets close. No harm will come to the Falcon’s brides or the Viper’s children. You would be of more use elsewhere, Keeper.”

“I am content keeping pace with Eidolon’s brides.” Raziel dismissed the offer. Farren had genuine intentions but if they were overwhelmed it would be Raziel and his puppets held accountable. “I don’t doubt your intentions, Farren. I can see them well enough. But you are traveling with treasures that need protecting. We remain together.”

“Neka wants to walk.” Neka slid to her feet and giggled when Bishop grabbed her hand and tugged her close. Neka shuffled her feet through the remains of fallen angels and swung her tail as she looked up at Raziel. She smirked as she looked into his emotionless eyes. “And Neka doesn’t need the Keeper.”

“She doesn’t mean anything by that.” Bishop laid his hand on her soft hair and managed to smile at Raziel. “Neka just wants her Father to be proud.”

“Well, she certainly has his nasty side.” Van sneered down at the girl as she stepped in front of her. She rested her hands on her hips and grinned wickedly as Frikk and Frakk crawled through her arms. “You should be glad Razzy is looking out for you.”

“Kyaa!” Kaneko hissed and pounced over Van, turning in midair and landing in front of her to issue her warning. “Kaneko doesn’t like the way you talk to Neka. Watch your mouth, you pastel tart.”

“I don’t like the fact the kitten is pulling my little buddy there around like a puppy.” Van poked Kaneko in the shoulder. “Back off, bitch.”

“With me, puppet.” Raziel pulled Van aside as Kaneko clawed through the air where she had been.

“The singing stopped.” Brig interrupted halting any further scolding or attacks. The air had become silent and it was just as much the taint of hatred Sachiel had left in the garden as it was personal grudges that was making them lose their focus. He held Shana’s trembling hand in his and smirked at Raziel. “Even Galik noticed.”

“So he did.” Raziel knelt beside Galik and put his arms around him. In his thoughts he could see the struggle of his most precious creation trying to keep himself composed and make his Master proud and the shame of being unable to act. “Keep close puppet. The dark hold on this place is weakening, The Siren’s song will be unnecessary soon.”

“And I didn’t mean to snap at the kid.” Van sighed. “I just feel bad for Bishop.”

“Kaneko is sorry, too. You apologize too, Neka….” She grinned and started to turn and her eyes searched franticly for her younger sister and her strange toys. “Neka…Where….KYAA!”

“Master Eidolon is going to be so mad at us.” Karla whimpered.

“It’s not like she’s alone.” Shana offered. “We’ll find her.”

“She’s with a dumb kid and a traitor.” Brig shook his head and watched Raziel for some idea of what needed to be done. His emotionless Master focused on where the child had been silently as he held Galik in one arm and rubbed Van’s fingers softly in his. Brig walked closer with Shana and crouched to whisper. “You take Shana and go find out who turned off the music, cupcake. I’ll help these two find the lost kitten. They couldn’t have gone far.”

“You do not give the orders, puppet.” Raziel stood and pulled Brig to his feet, feeling a moment of fear in his puppets before he pushed his lips to Brig’s. He left a smile and a flush on Brig’s face as he pulled away and gestured toward Eidolon’s brides. “Go.”

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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 : Eden

Lucifer smiled and stroked the side of his beloved Lilith’s face as she woke. Her enormous patience with him through recent troubles and the smile she gave him now told him that he had once again kept her heart against all odds. He kissed her softly and buried his face in her hair.

“Is everything well, my Lord?” Lilith kept him in a gentle embrace.

 “I was just enjoying watching you sleep, my love.” Lucifer kissed her neck and laughed. “You are breathtaking and blissfully distracting.”

 “You need distracting?” Lilith grinned as he sat up. “You could have woken me.”

 “No time, my love.” Lucifer took her hands and kissed them as he stood. “I’ve made a few last minute decisions and we have guests.”

 “This trouble in Eden…”

 “Hush, love.” Lucifer pulled her into his arms. “Eden is no trouble. The garden just needs a few pests exterminated.”

 “You are sure of victory then?” Lilith smiled at him warmly.

 “Sure?” Lucifer laughed. “I’ve practically already won. And so much more than Eden.”

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