Azazel protected his sensitive bronze eyes from the glare of the sulphurous waters of Stigia, one of the many poisonous water bodies in the Abyss, with a pale, beautiful hand. The crystal-greenish waters formed waves of oily texture. A lesser demon could be burn to death by their acidic action, but to him, they only were a harmless, repulsive gathering of filthy liquid. Azazel bit his lip slightly as he hopped from rock to rock by the lake shore, always landing first and securely on his goat hoof after every agile and precise leap. He had some of his Father’s grace but his own beauty was distorted and twisted, fascinating and horrible at the same time.
Azazel fondly patted a long object he carried in his arms, wrapped in a black brocade cloth. He hopped off the last large rock and onto the white sand below, then limped his way up a narrow trail through a dry landscape of burnt trees. His left foot was a goat hoof, while his right foot was of perfect angelic shape and beauty; the impaired condition forced him to limp, yet he daily practiced to overcome this limitation and make his walking more regular. Azazel rubbed his nose and swatted off an annoying fly. He percieved more humming and a familiar stench. Azazel turned his head and saw white fingers coming out of the sand ahead.
A dead demoness was half-buried in the sand by the wind, her dead body a torn carcass yet a strange fixed smile showed on her decayed face. These were the rests of Beelzebub’s work; Azazel could read the signs very well by now. The young demon stared at the dead demoness. All of Beelzebub’s victims had similar facial features; he couldn’t help but to notice this. Green and blue flies feasted on the cadaver. Undaunted, Azazel turned away and continued across the dry lands, holding tightly onto his wrapped object.
After a few minutes, he reached a small camp custodied by armored Fallen in black robes. Rich tents and standards waved in the dry, bitter wind. Azazel walked to the gate and the guards bowed to him. Azazel frowned in impatience and entered the camp. He knew well they were aware of his presence before he came into view. Azazel walked straight to a red-haired Legion Commander in a bronze armor with emerald ivy leaves. The read-haired Fallen bowed lightly.
“Mastema. Where’s my Teacher?”, Azazel asked without much ceremonies. Mastema motioned to one of the tents. They all looked exactly the same, except for the Sigil of their owner; even Belial Archdemon’s tent was no different. Azazel headed to the tent and entered.
“Teacher”, Azazel greeted.
Belial watched him without a word. Of course he sensed Azazel coming long ago and he wasn’t surprised to see him, but he wasn’t glad nor annoyed by his visit. Azazel casted him a speculative look that made him look very much like his Father; but the red flame-like mark across his left eye broke the effect.
“I’ve completed my sword, except for one detail”, Azazel said.
Belial pulled a small table and Azazel laid his package on it, carefully proceeding to unwrap the rich black brocade cloth, revealing a black blade with a golden handle and red gems. Azazel’s fingers touched the carefully woven sigils etched by magic on the polished surface and Belial had a small shiver he carefully hid from the young demon. Azazel was absorbed in contemplation of his masterpiece. Belial carefully checked all details on the demonic weapon and he acknowledged it was a work of art. Disturbing for such a young being. Azazel had inherited Lucifer’s intelligence, yet he was still a pale and twisted reflection of his Father.
Azazel smiled, for he was still able of smiling.
“You promised to teach me Consecration, if I archieved this”.
“I will teach you”, he admitted. “It’s a fine piece, and you’ve made a good interpretation of your own Elements into the blade. Remember you must allow the weapon to grow with you; I will teach you the whole Consecration process, but you must remember not to fix the blade into a single stage. Let it grow with you as your own power grows with experience and age”.
Azazel stared at the blade, his fingers still caressing it; perfect angelic fingers on his left hand, his right hand a red claw with black sharp talons.
“I could be as powerful as He is”, he muttered. Belial looked at him and did not reply.
After leaving the the camp of the Necromancer’s Legions, Azazel returned to the Fortress of the Gate – his usual residence. Azazel held tightly onto his sword, again wrapped up in the black brocade cloth as he walked down a long, sumptuous hall; he could not yet percieve his Father’s presence, but Belial and his Legions had returned with the Prince of Darkness – that wasn’t hard to say. Lucifer had led a long campaign against the Heavenly Armies, forcing them to the West of the Garden. Now he was back in the Abyss, and it was said an important battle was coming closer; one that could mark the end of the War.
Lucifer had not taken his son along this time. Azazel was both resentful and glad for being left behind; resentful because he was denied the place he deserved by blood right, but he was glad also… because his Father terrified him. Azazel couldn’t always control the deep fear the Prince of Darkness inspired to him; his terror towards his Father was so intense that he had to make a strong, conscious effort not to flee from his presence. Azazel was quite aware that his Father despised him, and from the very first day he was taken to Lucifer’s presence, Lucifer had marked Azazel’s face with a seal of Fire which never died out; a mark in the shape of a red flame from his eyebrow to his cheek across his left eye. It still burned his flesh and from time to time, it’d torment him. Azazel was too proud to let it show, but there were times when the pain was unbearable.
Azazel absently touched the red mark across his left eye; it was starting to pound softly. His impaired footsteps echoed in the hall, and he came to a halt before entering a side corridor. Moloch was coming down that corridor, wearing delicate and feminine robes. Her crimson eyes laid on him and the Archdemoness smiled faintly. Azazel left his eye alone, not to call Moloch’s attention on himself. She drew energies from pain – most of the time, pain she inflicted to others, and this was both her leisure and one of the sources of her powers.
“Greetings, Young One”, she said, smiling delicately with the air of a high lady speaking to a dear child, yet she always kept her distance, wary as all Fallen were. Her eyes met the wrapped object in Azazel’s arms. She didn’t question him, but she looked at him again. Azazel bit his lip. Part of him wanted to continue on his way and ignore her, but this wasn’t convenient – she was after all one of the Archdemons; someday he could need her alliance. Also, yet Azazel was in many ways too old for his age because his life had forced him to mature faster in many aspects, he was still a young creature and he had something important in his arms. Like the boy he really was, he felt the need to boast about his new archievement and get some praising. Also, he knew she wouldn’t turn him back because he was Lucifer’s son.
Azazel gave a small nod, making himself ready for some formalities to pet Moloch’s self-esteem before getting what he wanted. Demons and Fallen had so big egos these kind of things took precious time out of their lives, even among demonlords.
“Greetings, Moloch”, he replied, stopping before her; his red robes fluttered about his feet and the hoof shone darkly before disappearing from view again. “May your campaign have been successful”.
Azazel had never been too prodigal. He was kind of austere in his words and manner, with much thinking and little talk, which added something sinister to his usual malevolent air.
“It has been, for the glory of your Father”, she courteously replied. “However, your sword was missed”.
Moloch was also familiar with such formalities and she skillfully used them for her own purposes. She knew Lucifer had ordered Azazel to stay in the Abyss, and she also knew the demonbloods saw in Azazel a version of the high Fallen more akin to them, and they identified with him – Azazel’s malevolence inspired them. However, that was not enough worth from the Prince of Darkness’s perspective; this she let seep out in two venomous phrases, but even these could hide a glimpse of sympathy. However that was the least thing Azazel would want from anyone; he loathed all Life and did not want anyone’s sympathy – that feeling was too close to compassion. Azazel catched the impact and prepared his reply.
“May the Leader of the Armies from the Abyss take down the Heaven Gates”, he said with half-closed eyes; from the Abyss sounded more like a demon than a former angel, but this was too subtle to be considered seditious; yet Azazel was Lucifer’s heir and Azazel certainly was from the Abyss. “There’ll be time and blood for my sword to shed; and I have completed my new weapon, which will also add to the glory of Hell”. An small, unwilling smile curled his lip, yet it was full of evil and malice mixed with an inner, private joy.
Moloch was surprised by the intensity of the fire dancing in the youth’s eyes; she carefully kept from showing her feeling. Azazel held up his sword for her to see and began unfolding the carefully plied brocade cloth.
“Good Eve, lord Azazel and lady Moloch”, a voice said; a silouhette stepped off the shadows of the corridor and materialized into a smiling Fallen. Azazel’s fingers stopped and he casted a displeased look upon the newcomer; Paimon was openly irritating, with a perennial grin on his feminine face. The fact that he always seemed to have a reason to smile was disturbing – at least, for Azazel. Paimon’s exaggerated courtesy was half mockery, half an indirect challenge – Azazel’s fingers went cold and his claws curved, going sharper if that was possible. Paimon frequently boasted in indirect ways about his position as one of Lucifer’s advisors, specially in presence of the Son. Yet Azazel had a higher rank as the Demon of Knowledge, it was a fact he didn’t have his Father’s preference.
“It’s an honor to meet you again”, Paimon nonchalantly said with a light bow as Azazel didn’t bother to reply and only glared in return, while Moloch simply watched the match. “You’ll be happy to know the Almighty Prince of Darkness graces Hell again with his presence…”
Then he took a deep bow. Azazel was momentaneously perplexed at this development, but he saw Moloch’s eyes were fixed on something behind him. She smiled with confident devotion and bowed her forehead, and Azazel’s blood drained from his face upon realization.
//He is behind me…//
A tight knot formed in Azazel’s stomach and he felt his hackles rise. His fingers and claws clasped on his half-unwrapped weapon; as usual, he had not percieved his Father’s presence coming, simply because Lucifer had the annoying habit of hiding his presence whenever he pleased with such perfection he was undetectable. Azazel desperately tried to control the need of falling on his knees and throwing up; he summoned his willpower to hide his fear from the others; hide it as he always did and strive not to fail to himself. He slowly turned to face the Devil Himself, his Father.
Lucifer smiled at Moloch and corresponded to her salute with a nod full of grace and dignity, then simple acknoledgement for Paimon. Then his gaze met his son. Lucifer’s bronze eyes were now half-closed, watching his son with a mix of contempt, slight annoyance and yet some curiosity. The Prince of Darkness wore rich black robes of severe elegance, for he Himself was already of extreme beauty and more ornament would’ve lost its meaning on him. Geheena, his renowned sword, hung at his side shining darkly as if watching them all with cunning gaze from its Master’s side. Azazel bit his lip and took a slow and light bow at Lucifer. When he straightened his back again, they looked strangely alike but at the same time, completely different. Physically, the resemblance was astounding, despite Azazel was still a youngster and his own beauty was distorted, while his Father’s was flawless. Lucifer’s eyes met the half-unwrapped weapon in Azazel’s arms. After what seemed an eternity to Azazel, Lucifer rose his hand and opened it, his palm upward; he wanted the sword. Azazel knew too well his silent request was a direct order never meant to be disobeyed. Still biting his lip, he pulled the black brocade cloth off the sword and presented the hilt to his Father; Azazel’s fingers were so cold now, the blade seemed warm at his contact. Lucifer’s long and perfect fingers closed round the hilt and Azazel instinctively took a step back, which proved to be just on time. Lucifer swung the sword, testing its balance, then he suddenly flourished it with impecable skill and Azazel paled further, his hands unconsciously clasping the black brocade cloth. Yet the sword was already consacrated to its owner, Lucifer’s sheer power could bend the will of the guardian spells without flinching. Azazel’s eyes widened as Lucifer moved away a few steps and suddenly threw the sword at him. Azazel didn’t have more time to react than the time his reflexes needed; dropping the black brocade cloth, he affirmed his feet in a defense stance and moved slightly to the side, catching the sword with his right hand by the handle as it hissed its way close to his body; he instinctively flourished it to modify the tremendous impulse the Devil had given to it and brought it to a fight stance. Then he stayed still, as if he had suddenly turned into stone.
Not a sound came from Moloch and Paimon, spectators in the background. A shiver ran up Azazel’s spine as beads of sweat formed on his forehead, dampening loose strands of his hair. The black brocade reached the floors. A smirk formed upon Lucifer’s lips and his eyes shimmered like infernal carbuncles.
“Interesting”, the Devil said. Azazel’s eyes widened and his pupils dilatated to a painful level as Lucifer drew Geheena out of its sheath and attacked him. The terrified young demon counterattacked on pure reflexes but in the second blow, his mind had already taken over. Azazel was sweating in his red robes; even in hard training under Beelzebub’s direction, he couldn’t help but to be fully aware that the Lord of the Flies wouldn’t actually kill him. However, with his Father the story was completely different; in the rare ocassions that his Father toyed with him like this, Azazel could feel his own death fluttering over his head. He did his best in the fight and both swords lit up in terrible flames; Azazel kept his lips tightly closed and Lucifer’s smirk never left his lips. Maybe it went more pronounced when Geheena broke through Azazel’s guard and pierced through his body.
Azazel gasped and his feet faltered, but he didn’t let go of his sword. Lucifer’s smirk changed to a soft and unpleasant smile as he placed his hand next to the wound and pulled Geheena out and off Azazel’s body. He hadn’t cut through any vital point, but still his Son bleeded profusely. Shocked, Azazel absently pressed his fist on the wound in an attempt to stop the blood flow.
Lucifer flicked the blood off Geheena and resheathed it.
“It’s a fine blade”, he coolly commented. “What’s its name?”
Azazel blinked slowly.
“I have named it Lufernatia”, he muttered. Lucifer nodded.
“It’s a work of quality”, he said, leaving him. Azazel clutched his side as his Father left him and he didn’t really notice when did the Devil leave the chamber as all sounds seemed to dim around him.
A soft hand touched his own, which was pressed on his wound. Lufernatia’s tip had met the floor, yet its owner’s red claw was still firmly clasped round its hilt. A brief, subtle wave of relief ran through him, but only enough to stop the bleeding; the wound was still open. Moloch’s eyes were inescrutable. Paimon had followed Lucifer, and they were alone now.
“You learn fast, Young One”, she whispered before leaving him. Azazel bit his lip till it bled. He painfully picked up the black brocade cloth and lovingly wrapped Lufernatia in it again. Without flinching despite the pain, Azazel limped his way to his private chambers; not a soul dared to disturb him on his way.
Sitting on his bed, Azazel checked his wound before closing his bandages. He had done a decent work at healing himself, yet once the wound was completely healed, there’d be a scar for a few weeks. Azazel put his hair out of his eyes and yawned, loosely wrapped in a simple silk robe. His body ached from the fight earlier and to get a little sleep wouldn’t be a bad idea, plus the stress still lingered on his shoulders. He had taken a short bath and carefully polished his sword before wrapping it in a clean cloth. He still didn’t have a sheath for it, yet he was already planning on its design.
//A fine blade, a work of quality…// Despite he hated his Father with a passion and feared him beyond belief, Azazel still couldn’t stop mussing on Lucifer’s words with a sort of delight. After all, his Father was regarded as the brightest mind, and his technical approval was greatly ambitioned. Azazel could praise himself to sleep muttering those words. He was already dozing off when a familiar presence tingled his wards. Azazel lazily opened his eyes to look at his mother.
“Mother…”, he muttered. “I’ve completed my sword…” He closed his eyes again with a small smile and Lilith moved a few bluish black hair strands away from his face.
“I see, my love…”
Azazel rubbed his eyes and sat up. Lilith was looking at him strangely. Azazel didn’t know why, but a cold shiver ran up his spine.
“Mother”, he said trying to break her strange daze, “my Father has returned to the Abyss… I thought you were going to see him”.
Lilith’s silver hair rolled down her pale shoulders. “Yes”, she muttered. Her hand cupped his cheek.
“You are your Father all over again”, she lovingly whispered. Azazel blinked as she leaned over; her lips met his and Azazel jerked back when she kissed him, his eyes open wide.
“… Mother, what…?” Azazel saw her gaze was strangely off and his hackles began to rise, yet he still did not realize what was going on with her. Lilith narrowed her eyes, clasping her hands on his shoulders.
“How dare you reject me now?”, she hissed as her eyes lit up in infernal fire. She tilted her head with a small, crooked smile. “I love you, Lucifer…” Her hair began floating in the air around her as her power shifted, her nails sinking into his flesh.
Much to his horror, Azazel realized that even though her eyes were fixed on him, in her mind it wasn’t himself who she was looking at…
Lilith hugged herself with a soft giggle. She put her hair behind her ears and toyed with a strand of silver, pulling the blanket to shield herself from the cold. It was oddily… cold, for a private chamber. She turned her head to see if Lucifer was asleep. “It’s getting cold here”, she lovingly whispered. But he did not reply.
Lilith reached out and moved his hair out of his eyes as he seemingly was staring off into space, maybe immerse in his thoughts. She enjoyed to watch him when he was thoughtful, aware of the Power of his mind; Lilith was content. Then she saw a red marking in the shape of a red flame running across his left eye, from his eyebrow to his cheek.
“My child…” Her voice was thin and trembling. Azazel casted her a blank look. Shaking, Lilith slowly reached out but her fingers didn’t brush against his hair. With her hand suspended short from his forehead, Lilith stared at him. Finally, her fingertips touched him. He was as cold as ice, despite he is the Demon of Fire. Lilith’s eyes filled.
“You must remember…”, she whispered, “that I only do what’s best for you….”
There was a small garden of rocks and metallic trees beyond a wall of basalt in the First Fortress; Kasbeela would sometimes go there to play, sometimes to just sit in the branches of a tree and sing to herself. It was a rather secluded spot, and sometimes the Prince of Darkness would hold council with the Archdemons and powerful Fallen and Demons in the adjacent Hall. However, it had been a while since that Hall had been used, and Kasbeela usually had the garden all to herself. Kasbeel, her father, let his young child go there because it was a relatively safe place – if there’s any place considered safe anywhere in the Abyss.
Kasbeela peered down from the branches of a tree forged in copper and black iron as someone entered the garden and sat on a bench. She recognized him immediately; it was lord Azazel, in his red robes. His insignia was the color red, as the Demon of Fire; Kasbeela smiled to herself, for he seemingly hadn’t noticed the stalker in the tree and she could look at him all she wanted. In her eyes, he was strinkingly handsome.
Azazel laid a black lacquered scabbard on his knees, which held a long sword called Lufernatia, The Black Blade. Azazel’s fingers caressed the hilt of the sword and strange shadows danced in his bronze eyes. “You are the only one I can trust”, he muttered to the sword. “I will shape my Destiny with you”.
Kasbeela didn’t understand his strange demeanor, but she curled up in her branch, watching. //I will be his ally, someday//, she thought. //He’s a great general and he is also so beautiful…// Kasbeela wrinkled her nose, for even though she didn’t muse it to herself, she also knew he had a black heart, if he had a heart at all.