Azazel's smile became more pronounced as Vemchu showed her respect to him – a dark and malicious, yet seductive smile. Azazel walked up to Vemchu and motioned to her to rise. “It's been some time, Kasbeela. I've watched you from my shell…” Azazel shrugged lightly with lazy elegance. “You'll be rewarded for your devotion”. His voice echoed strangely within their space. In his second imprisonment in the Abyss, Azazel had had time to plot out new strategies and lines of action, including some personal things. 'I can learn quickly', he had told Michael Archangel before giving him a terrible wound – later on, he had successfully slain the Archangel. This had given a turn in Azazel's mind, where he had started a conscious effort to remove his father's shadow from himself. His father had been slain by Michael – Azazel had slain Michael, proving himself better than the two of them. Being reimprisoned has been a learning experience; Azazel had promised himself he would succeed where Lucifer failed. He had lost some things before; loyalties and servants; but he'd eagerly restructure what Lucifer had created into something of his own – let the dead remain dead! Aidan hadn't named his company Morning Star by simple chance… as many of his deeds had been plotted and imprinted in his will by Azazel himself. Azazel was determined to give his own fate a new turn.
Rising from her bow at Azazel's command, Vemchu connected her deep eyes with his bronze ones. They sparked with hidden power, deep want – want of vengeance. Her Lord wanted to reclaim what was his. And she couldn't blame him at all. After all… she wanted what was hers as well. “Thank you, Sire, but working with you is a reward in itself.”
Vemchu had learned some things over the years. When it came to a superior, you didn't accept anything unless they insisted. Otherwise you may seem too greedy. You told them that working for them was rewarding enough. And with him, it was true. Sure, he would have her sacrificed like that if he felt she was a threat… or a nuisance. But it wasn't just the present – it was the past as well. Some things from her past made her want to stay on his good side. Stay in his favor. Then maybe she would stand a chance in this world. No one would dare go against him… no demon and lower angel, anyways. And after the last battle – no Archangel. He took down Michael himself… they would be foolish to try to take him on. And he remains strong, I can feel it. Ever so easily. So… overpowering. Makes one shake. And that aura… he looks so elegant, dark… seductive. I can feel this power seeping out of him, through this room – shaking my soul, vibrating my bones, curling my blood… such an aura…
Azazel cast Kasbeela a speculative look, then his blazing gaze fell on Autumn. Azazel frowned as his piercing eyes scanned the girl's looks and her soul denounced her; his lip curled lightly in a mix of contemptment and resentment. He hadn't been wrong – this girl was Autumn, indeed; a reincarnation of a contradiction. Ironically, she had brought him the ring she had taken away from him, over a hundred years ago. However… Azazel's frown deepened to a scowl as he again sensed the man's love and need of his wife. Useless human limitations! There was no such thing as love; only lust and greed.
Snapping out of her semi-daze, she looked on as Azazel looked at Kris. Vemchu could tell that she was related to the red-haired vixen from a long time ago… very similar in fact. Except for the fact that she was wearing pants, of course. And the ring had been around her neck instead of finger. Ah well, such minor things meant nothing. She could very well be the reincarnation of Autumn. But in her mind, the chance was very slim. Lord Azazel was frowning. The past. It always bothered people like them. Then again – it could be anything else. Vemchu didn't know, and right now – it was good to stay out of his business, until he invited someone in. That's the only way it could be and would be. Azazel didn't allow people to control him.
Again, Azazel promised himself he wouldn't allow himself to be reached by his father's shadow – Autumn would not be his Lilith. The cycle must be broken. “We'll take her down to the vaults beneath the Tower”, he told the demoness, “where she will remain”.
“Yes, sir.” Snapping her fingers lightly, a form appeared from what seemed to be pure darkness. A low-leveled demon, who was under her command. Until Azazel appeared, of course. He now owed his allegiance to him. Bowing deeply, the demon picked up Kris, and waited for further instruction.
Azazel narrowed his eyes, watching them. He didn't show if he was satisfied or not with their actions; his expression didn't change. Azazel stomped his left foot on the floor and the floor disappeared beneath them; demons and human fell down a pit of walls seemingly made of volcanic rock streaked with threads of living fire at blinding speed. The fall suddenly met a halt in an underground level beneath the tower, in a strange place of polished dark green marble floors and vaults built in unearthly metal. Bank-style security doors could be seen round a chamber, from which many other passages started behind bar doors. Some were tunnels in total darkness for the human eye; in others danced strange flames and hellish lights.
The fall ended as it begun – without warning. Azazel landed neatly on his goat hoof and his angel-like armored foot – he had assumed his 'normal' appearance during the fall. His gold wings spotted in dark crimson folded on his back, the long feather edges barely brushing against the floor. His red robes fluttered round his feet as if driven by an unseen force; his black and gold armor with red writings shone darkly in the dull white fluorescent lights. Azazel led the way to one of the security vault doors, which he proceeded to open and lead them inside. His aura of preeminence and hellish power surrounded him like a dark cloak, yet he limped almost imperceptibly due to the different nature of his feet. Inside there was a huge, aseptic, circular space built in a bluish metal walls and quartz floors. From the vault hung a gold cage, long, narrow and oblong in the likeness of those used to keep and starve prisoners to death in the 11th Century. Azazel pressed a button and the cage lowered to the floor. At his command, the lower demon placed unconscious Autumn inside the cage and activated the locks. The cage slowly rose to its original position, high above them.
One minute Kasbeela was standing on a carpeted floor – the next, falling through what seemed to be the bowels of the earth. However, tempted as though she was, she didn't allow herself to shape shift or transform into her true form. So, through fire and earth, she dropped, alongside Azazel and the demon servant, hair whipping around her face, hands firmly by her side. With a gently click Vemchu landed, in a bent position, so her legs would break after absorbing all the shock. Standing in a fluid motion, she looked around. Green marble underneath, bank vaults, black tunnels – if she didn't know any better, she'd think it was a Hobbit's cave. Strange how mortals thought up such things. Hobbits… Only a mortal would think of something so stupid as a Hobbit. Turning her head to face her master, she saw he had regained his old appearance. Following him into the vault, she watched with a sort of hidden amusement. He had the girl placed in a cage and then had that cage placed near the ceiling. Well… what did you know? The girl – who was possibly his own grandchild, if not his old wife – stuck in a cage towering above them. My, my… how the tides had turned. Closing her eyes while he busied himself, Vemchu let her body relax as four wings unfurled. Deep gray, with white here and there – in this light, black and gray. Her scandal-causing robes clung to her, then spread out as it came to the floor. She hadn't been in this form for such a long time. Her whip was laced to her side, while her hair gently slid down her back in an ebony waterfall. Yes. This was much better. No more stupid work clothes for now.
Azazel tapped his long, beautiful fingers on an altar prepared in the center of the room, which was a chilling mix of an operation table and a place of sacrifices. Tools and strange bottles waited aligned in shelves inside a niche behind security glass doors. The space was clean of exhaustive details for the naked eye, but the quartz floor was covered in sigils of power and prepared for a major event. The Warlord was frowning still; the flame-like crimson mark across his left eye had taken a bright hue in his pale face. “Kasbeela: there's someone I need you to find for me”.
Hearing a sudden tapping sound, Kasbeela opened her eyes to see an unhappy Azazel. He looked preoccupied, as though he needed something, craved something. Either that, or he looked like someone had just done bad and was about to be killed. She sincerely hoped it wasn't her. Her fears were then relieved by him speaking, his voice echoing in the chamber. “Who, Sire? I'll be glad to assist.”
Azazel watched her from the corner of his eye. Kasbeela in his eyes, looked different – strangely different but the same underneath her features, like someone we met as a child and meet again when childhood is nothing but bad memories. Azazel bit his lip lightly. The white feathers in Kasbeela's wings unpleasantly reminded him the both of them were children of former angels. After the century ago experience, this problem had haunted Azazel's mind – the demon of Knowledge hadn't yet processed and digested the information properly. Then again, he'd see again the embodiment of a paradox again, if Kasbeela succeeded. She better succeed.
Azazel looked at her from the corner of his eye, then turned to her speak his will. “Find the Necromancer for me. Don't let him know he's being watched – find him and let me know about him. I have plans for my Teacher”. Azazel's lip curled to a small, dry smile as he tapped again his fingertips on the altar.
Raziel rose and closed the door of his room after the last student filed out of his small classroom; it was six o' clock in the evening, as he had been doomed to take one of the later class slots. The steel and brass lock clicked as the tumblers within closed; a more subtle “sound” vibrated unobtrusively through the magical web in his dimming room as the anti-pick charm activated. It had been a clever little spell Raziel accidentally discovered; anyone who focused on his locked door with ill intent would remember some pressing urge or “hear” a guard down the hall and leave, forgetting what they had come for. All Raziel had to do was lay the spell; he found that, while other teachers ended up with a few break-ins each semester, he never had a single event. It usually earned him strange looks from the other professors, but… I'd rather have odd looks because of my ancient lock than a looted room. Raziel left the bronze key in the lock after shutting himself in and sat in his battered green chair, opening the drawer on his desk and pulling out the grimoire he had been reading earlier.
He flicked on a small wan desk lamp and opened the tome, leafing through. He was entranced by the lines flowing across the page, forming detailed pentagrams and dancing devils that twined into intricate patterns. His eyes were drawn along the slightly raised inklines, spiraling through each loop and knot and through the enumerated veins of leaves and illustrations of beating hearts; the ink seemed to shimmer and pulse like the beat of that self-same heart, thickening to arteries and down to capillaries, splitting and converging and twisting in to each other like spider webs. Leafing through the illuminated text, Raziel allowed a long index finger to trail along the ridges, letting the book tell him its story… Raziel leaned back and took off his wire-framed glasses, laying them carefully on the desk before massaging his eyes with the heels of his hands. Shadows stretched along the room like bars as streetlights outside flicked on, sending shafts of amber-orange into his night-grayed room. “Ye gods… What time is it?” he murmured, and checked his watch. Ten o'clock.
He slipped his glasses back on and grabbed his battered brown leather briefcase, pushing the old book inside somewhat guiltily. I'm not really stealing… It would have moldered away in the Library. He walked quickly through the unlit halls, looking over his shoulder from time to time; the old building he taught in always gave Raziel the feeling something was going to come out and pull him to the Netherworld. The street was cold and, even with the lights, the shadows crawled up the walls and slunk around the corners like hungry bendith-gnomes. Raziel shielded his eyes as a pair of painfully bright headlights mounted the hill he walked on; the car slowed and stopped beside him. Raziel's heart stopped for the moment it took his eyes to readjust; but it was a Yellow Cab, obviously seeing his hand-blocking as a signal. Bloody convenient, I say… He opened the door and was almost blasted backwards by ear-drum-bursting hard metal. He winced but slid into the backseat anyway. The cabbie looked back at him questioningly, mouthing — ? — a question. “Fourth Queen Mary and Ryde!”
The cab stopped amidst bright lights, its tires screeching audibly over the impossibly loud music and slamming Raziel first into the seat before him and then nearly through the windshield behind him. “Are you MAD?” He almost screamed, but was unheard over the music. The ride had probably scared decades out of Raziel's life; the cabbie had swerved in and out of traffic, engaging in an infinite number of near-misses and illegal u-turns. The driver started to signal how much Raziel owed, but, terrified of another joyride, Raziel thrust a wad of banknotes in the man's face and fled the car. It swerved off of the curb, hiccoughing and weaving slightly, as if the driver were drunk. Thank you GOD! He found himself before a brightly lit multi-level nightclub, people and music spilling out of all its orifices. The pulsing neon lights scored patterns into his retinas, making him wince more than the deafening music of the cab had.
“Sir? Sir!” A high pitched, panicky female voice called out; Raziel turned instinctively, his teacher-instincts taking over as he recognized the sound as the voice of a student he had seen in the hall earlier that day, talking to one of his students… Ms. Kris, if he remembered correctly. “Have you seen Autumn?”
Raziel adjusted his glasses nervously, almost terrified at being addressed by a female outside of the university. “Wh-why n-no, I haven't… N-not since class ended.” Stupid bloody idiot! Very reassuring, you are, you shy arse!
“She was supposed to meet me, and she's just… Gone!” The young woman was too excited to really notice his lack of composure; she ran right over his voice. “I'm sorry, thank you, if you see her, tell her I'm looking for her!” The woman dove back into the crowd, her rather virulent orange dress blending in with the crowd.
“Wait, ma'am!” He cut himself off as it became apparent she couldn't hear him. “You didn't say your name…”
Raziel checked his watch, thankful for the fading Indiglo that lit the digital numbers–in the darkness of the alleyways, it would have been impossible to see. Raziel had sensed the residue of incredibly powerful magic; strong enough for the Masters in the city to take notice of, yet none had come… And its signature was nothing he recognized, but for some vague feeling that it should not be here. He had learned to follow his hunches, however, and examined the spot of the highest reverence… Perhaps the occultist who had been there had some kind of dampening field… If so, this was important enough to investigate and inform one of the stronger practitioners in London.
He had discovered quickly that the last spell had indeed been a portal; the magics before it were too warped by the spell to be recognizable, and were quickly fading to mere afterimages. There had been a death and blood spilt; Raziel could discern that much. He even had the general direction of the portal's destination, which was a surprise–it wasn't too far off… And it seemed that the twinges he was getting were leading Raziel straight into the heart of the business sector; he had opted for a more sedate cab, directing it to leave him at one of the lawyer's offices in the more “upscale” business sector. To his surprise, his drop-off point fairly screamed of the mage's signature.
Where have you gone, hind? Raziel walked quickly through the empty streets, haunted by the cold blackness of the structures around him. It seemed heartless as Hell here; no warmth to be found anywhere. The trail pulled him towards one of the larger buildings; a brass placard on the black base read “Morning Star Corp.” It was one of the huge glass and metal constructs; it was designed to be intimidating and martial, as if it would be a fortress at the heart of a conquering empire. Raziel's reflection was warped weirdly by the silvered glass, twisting his features into a fiendish grimace. He looked away quickly, unnerved.
Raziel laid a hand against the cool electric door and it opened easily, much to his surprise; he had expected something more… Secure. Then again, it was a business. People had to go inside, and at least the non-mages had to use doors. He stepped into the doorway, prepared to be assaulted by god only knew what. Dear Lord, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name… He refused to allow the fact that he had no soul to impinge on his prayer.
The night was coming to a zenith, crawling over the world like a gigantic worm. The apartment was ice-still, almost chilling; the only light came from a computer screen. Lucca finished sending emails and laid back in his chair, staring at the screen. The bluish light made his skin look silverish, his black hair barely out of his bronze eyes. In his eyes danced an eerie flame; a curious mix of emotions showed in the depths of his eyes once he allowed himself to sink into the apparent calm of the vast and dark ocean of his mind. Beneath the surface, violent storms and unyielding currents flowed, carrying monsters from the past.
Lucifer absently rubbed his shoulders. The cold he felt had nothing to do with the weather or the air conditioner – as certain as the rising moon in a distant horizon, he sensed a new storm rising above him. Lucifer had gone through many of these, ever since Michael's blow tore him from the skies. The stillness in the apartment was unnatural, for he himself had provoked it; the curtains were closed and the inner space turned its back on the World as much as its owner did. What had stirred the conflicts within him? He wasn't certain on it – but there was a disturbance in the web of energies across the damned island where so many angels and demons met a recent fate, over a century ago. Lucca pushed his chair off the desk and rose. The screen light tossed a long, bluish, diffuse beam of light across the room, cutting the silhouettes of different objects in an elegant, yet severe bedroom. The materials were gold, silver, cedar of Lebanon… all ancient, invaluable pieces. However, for the Devil these exquisite objects were only a proof that he dragged the past along with him. Lucca crossed the bedroom, his steps silenced by the thick Persian rug. He only wore low-cut pants. Shirtless and barefoot, on the unearthly perfection of his human-like form showed a scar across the left side of his chest and a matching scar on his back, as if he had survived a blow no one would be meant to survive. The bed was untouched – and the truth is, he rarely used it, if ever. He only had a bed in the bedroom to fulfill a conventionalism. Lucca changed clothes to go out for a walk, to escape from his own thoughts, to find shelter from the storm.
Lucifer had wandered aimlessly down the nightclubs area, going deeper and deeper into the miasmal display of human nature in exhibit for the night. Most of the lesser demonic creatures, vampires, were and others referred to themselves as non-human and proud of it; but in the Devil's eyes all of them had their origin in the archetype of Mankind his companions and he had delightfully corrupted; they'd always have an indelible streak of humanity. It was an old game, like long forgotten childhood rhymes; are you superior, are you scum… In fact, these beings were the result of a careful process aimed and planned to exalt and bring forth the deepest, darkest passions within the human soul, to make them apparent and reshape the bodies of what once was called Man to express what the Fallen saw as Man's true nature in horrid semblances. It was a work of art – a work of art that could never be undone. Humans and the immense variety derived from them to prey on each other filled the night, oblivious to the Prince of Darkness that walked among them.
Ironically enough, The Prince of Darkness was as well, the Lightbearer. Lucifer had carried out his experiments in both directions: to improve and to degrade what Man is, mainly out of 'scientific curiosity', to test and to increase Knowledge, filling the ever thirsty Book of Light. Both intents had an equal result, firmly sustaining his conclusion on the poor quality of the creature the Angelic Host had so fiercely defended. What for, in the end? The Armies from the Abyss had been defeated, but Hell had won. However… However this poetic victory was far from what Lucifer had wanted the Fall to be. Only he could see the magnitude of its failure; how ill the turn it took had been. Sometimes in his solitude, the Devil had wondered and sketched in his mind possible fixes, retouches, detours; riddles of Gods cast on ears of children – thus academic, empty and abstract, merely mind exercises.
Lucifer spent some time looking for a bar to have a drink, but he eventually forgot about it as the World played before him, again distracting. The World was a theatre; Lucifer, an spectator and only occasionally, a player/director. Lucifer was intrigued by the various raptures and disturbances in the net of energies over London; the Devil took off into the night, flying invisible to both human and inhuman eyes and from his position above the city, a wonder became neatly visible. Time-Space rippling tingled his senses; Plane rippling exploded less than half an hour later. The top of an luxurious office skyscraper was destroyed… then rebuilt. It was like the blink of an eye – the Devil admitted to himself it was artistic. The signature was well concealed, but still something oddly familiar bothered him. Curious by nature as all those chosen to be in the Order of Knowledge, Lucifer modified his flight pattern and landed near the building in question. It was a new building; he hadn't seen it before. Again, he hadn't stepped in London for a hundred years. Lucifer landed in an alley and assumed his human form, yet he didn't drop his invisibility. Lurking in the shadows, he tasted the subtle clues and tried to decipher the enigma of the tower. He didn't like his preliminary findings all that much. Morning Star Corp… How presumptuous.
Then Lucifer saw someone else coming near the building. His heart leapt in unpleasant surprise, yet his mind was intrigued. A blonde man had appeared, by subtle signs it was apparent he was tracking down something of the occult. He could be a perfect stranger, but Lucifer's heart had recognized his former Teacher. His heart only, because not all the pieces fit in harmony for is mind to recognize. His former Teacher, an Elder – a human? This was no mere shell or appearance; the power was terrifyingly lesser. Terrifyingly in an academic sense, of course – Lucifer knew better than to underestimate Raziel. But was it really Raziel? Why was he empty? Where was his soul?! No soul, no Book. The core of his duties had departed from the angel. But was he an angel at all? It seemed to be an absurd riddle. However, somehow he was certain it was Raziel.
Lucifer was painfully curious. The man's demeanor was far from the Raziel he knew – and the Devil perceived doubt and a subjacent fear in this Raziel. It was too attractive to let it slip by – even if he risked his own disclosure. Lucifer took the shape of a black cat and skittered down the sidewalk to catch up with the mysterious man, diminishing and twisting his presence to avoid recognition, but still allowing it to be noticeable to an Occultist his inhuman nature – a test. Like Mephistopheles followed Faust in the shape of a black dog after finding him in the marketplace, Lucifer in disguise followed Raziel into the building: a black cat of flaming eyes skittering into Raziel's soulless shadow.
Raziel breathed an inaudible sigh of relief as he found the interior of the building to be just like any other corporate headquarters he'd seen in movies or on the tele. A large receptionist's desk stood to the left wall, with people milling around the marble-tiled floor like bees with their suits and briefcases. Halls branched out all around, and steel-doored elevators lead up and down through the building like cords of nerves. The woman at the desk glanced up at him, adjusting her “fashionable” calico frames on her nose before going back to her phone conversation. His generic last-year suit wasn't good enough for her time; knowing that he was going through the halls of a wealthy building thrumming with power that would squash him like a bug wearing a polyester suit given to him buy an aunt around businessmen dressed in Armani made Raziel feel even more insignificant. He squared he shoulders and stepped out of the doorway, letting a harried-looking intern pass.
I'm not going to let this university wits intimidate me, Raziel thought resolutely. Something warm brushed his leg, sending his senses sharp needle-prick tingles. What? A black cat had come in; a Bombay, by the looks of it, with the faint striping all such black cats carried. It looked up at him mutely, blinking its fiery orange eyes at him like a wise, mischievous sage. “You really ought not be here,” Raziel muttered, sensing something more powerful than a cat or a familiar behind the feline guise. “Unless you're here to torture me. Then jolly away.” Raziel walked across the open floor skittishly, trying to avoid the suits as he made his way to the elevator, with the black cat following him not too far behind. No one really seemed to notice it; or maybe they just ignored it. “Lucky cat.” He wished he attracted less attention–the suits gave him curious and condescending looks, not caring when he returned their frank gazes. Are normal people like zoo animals here? I don't have time to care about this! There's a Power in this building, and I've got to find it and Ms. Kris…
Not a very conventional response, but it was enough for the Devil to assume he had been officially admitted. Lucifer had a knack for protocol and ceremonies, but it was his former Mentor and Teacher to blame. The black cat winked his fiery eyes and waved his tail in contentment, skittering next to Raziel's feet as the man walked. The cat was nonexistent for human consciences and merely a strange notion for inhuman beings. Lucifer read and collected information as they walked deeper into the building; humans and inhuman coexisted and worked together in interlaced relations, yet Lucifer was yet to know if all the humans knew about their partners' true nature. After part of his interest dimmed, the cat flicked his tail tip and pulled his ears back, thinking about the building's name – a building swarming with demonic traces. It'd be curious to learn about this in depth – and what was his former Mentor and Teacher doing here? The cat sat down and licked his nose deep in thought, but no more than an instant; he sprang back on his feet and followed Raziel like a silent shadow.
There was a strong, intense presence in the building; Lucifer knew it. It was oddly familiar to the point of being annoying, since he could not pinpoint it right in his memories. Due to Raziel's body language, it was evident to a former student of his he was looking for something in special he did want and did not want to find. Perhaps something to learn everything about, then ban away. Lucifer narrowed his eyes to burning slits of molten bronze. Ban away, as usual. Lucifer sniffed on Raziel the usual elements found in an Occultist – and not exactly a high level one, much to the Devil's indignation. If Raziel had been one day the Morning Star's teacher, it was almost an offense to his memory that Raziel were now a human, and worse than that, that he were not the top category in his current field!
//Hisss…// The cat didn't look pleased at Raziel's shoes – if anything. The cat skittered ahead, efficiently tracking down the Power they both could sense. For Lucifer, it was easier to follow; the Power was deep underground beneath the building… He sat down next to a door behind a turn and waved his tail, staring right into Raziel's eyes. This way, his eyes seemed to say. The door didn't look special – it didn't have signs on it. The door was hermetically closed, but next second it was simply ajar. Lucifer flicked his whiskers in slight impatience, waiting for Raziel to go in. In his blazing eyes it didn't show yet what his plans were. If he had any.
The blaze-eyed cat flicked its tail in acceptance, sliding in at Raziel's side like it belonged there. He was smart, that was for certain. He was ignored by those of the building, glancing at them only in the most uninterested and almost condescending way. Apparently my new companion doesn't like the company he finds himself in… I wonder if he knows something I don't. Of course he does; he's a cat. Raziel slipped through the halls with the black cat trotting at his heels, thoughts churning in his mind like a rudder stirring up sand in a deep river. They're not all human, that's for certain… Minor devils, demons… Something bigger the further down we go… Elementals allied with dark powers. I can feel the Dark seething here, like its heart was nearby… And it was true. Something pulsed, some black heart sending Power through the building like blood, like oxygen. The building thrived on it; its inhabitants were infused with it and a part of it, whether they knew it or not. It was disgusting, disturbing… And magnificent. Raziel felt part of him singing to the dark and part of him recoiling, but it was as if something separate from himself recognized the Power and Knew its Seal… But Raziel didn't know that part of him, couldn't comprehend the knowledge that was just out of the reach of his mental fingers, like a folded map ready to spring open and reveal its secrets if only he could grasp it in his hand.
The young Occultist fiddled with the buttons on his light gray cuffs as they walked, straightening his shirt as if trying to be presentable for whatever lie in wait for him. Like Jonas always said, make sure you have a clean change of underwear every day, just in case the paramedics find your body on the floor. The thought gave him a wry smile of humor; morbid comedy, but gallows humor was better than stark terror any day. The cat had trotted in front of him and he followed it with only half of his mind on the task at hand; he was cycling protective spells through his mind and charging the unobtrusive Shields on his body. Raziel felt something off and stopped; the cat was resting on its haunches near a door, staring at him, as if it were telling him to go inside. But the door is… Not… Shut? He could have sworn… Raziel looked at the cat and shook his head, glancing away from its burning eyes and pushing the door open slightly. I hope you know what you're doing… He shifted his grip on his battered suitcase, loosening the latch in case he had to search through the grimoire for a spell. Late wasn't better than never but it counted for something.