Lightning cracked in the sky, though not a single cloud was in sight… Deep down in the underground of the Schwliezer household, was a room built with stone bricks. The room was lit dimly with a mere chandelier and a few candles on an altar. On the altar was a pretty young woman, stripped naked, tied up and gagged. Her body had the fresh prints of repeated whippings which seemed to be inflicted upon her by a psychotic man. And indeed, the man was standing right in front of her, with a whip in his hands.

Antoine Schwliezer stroked the whip as blood dripped off it slowly. With a smile, he dumped the whip to one side as he walked over to the terrorized woman, whose eyes were wide opened with horror. She tried to scream when Antoine touched her but she couldn’t for the gag was muffling her voice. Antoine sneered darkly as he bent down and licked her body – the wounds – as he caressed her. The woman tried to move out of his way but she failed to, for Antoine’s hand turned on her suddenly, and pinned her to the altar. He straightened up and smiled darkly at her. “Let the ritual begin!” Antoine announced.

Several black-cloaked figures appeared and they began singing backwards hymns. Their voices were beautiful and bright, and if one was careful and knowledgeable enough, he or she would able to tell that they were castratos. During the singing, Antoine picked up a knife and licked it, cutting his tongue lightly and letting his blood drip on it. He sneered. The knife was sharp. Now it was enhanced with his dark powers, it could even cut an angel, if he so wanted to. Antoine took his time to prepare the altar as the singing went on. It was no more than a few agonizing minutes when everything was done. The woman’s eyes nearly popped out when Antoine came near her. She shook her head furiously and she tried to say something but the dark man ignored her. The priests began to chant. The words were strange and unlike the bible, and hard to the ears. A chilling cold wind seemed to enter the dark cell and it pricked the skin of all present, though it only made the dark priests more pleased as they chanted louder. It was time, for Antoine to send a sacrifice to the lord they worshipped.

Antoine jeered as the woman tried to get up and run but her hands and legs were bound. She knew there was no way she could escape. She turned to the other shadow in the corner and tried to scream out to her for help. But the owner of shadow cringed in the corner, and did not move. Antoine laughed as he sent the knife down.

A blood curdling scream ran through the house of the Schwliezer family and everyone covered themselves with their blankets in bed, afraid of the night and darkness… They knew the Earl was at it again…

The woman breathed heavily, having tore through the gag with her teeth “Please… spare me!!!!”

Antoine threw his head up and laughed. “Well Anne my dear…” Antoine spoke softly as he bent down, “I am very determined to make you mine… too bad you refused to give in and this is what you will get!”
Anne was about to speak again but Antoine gave her no chance. He gripped the handle of the knife and sliced upwards, from her womb area to the chest. Anne howled and gave a last death cry as her body split into half and the blood splattered all over the room, soaking the walls and floor red. The priests were elated and they screamed in delight. Antoine laughed and he waved his hand. The priests carried in a box and opened it. Inside was jars of flies. Antoine smashed the jars with his mental powers and the flies went straight to the split corpse, feeding whatever Antoine had provided for them. Antoine roared in laughter at the sight.

“Eat, my servants! Eat to your fill! The lord will need the power!” Antoine commanded with a demonic grin on his handsome face. He turned to the shadow in the corner and walked over slowly. He reached out and touched her. Charlotte shrieked in sheer terror. It wasn’t the first time Antoine had forced her to watch him do such horrible satanic acts but she would never be able to cure herself of the emotional and mental scar. Antoine sneered as he picked a screaming Charlotte up in his arms and he exited the cell back to his own room, where he would enjoy his time with his dear little sister…

Antoine, or rather, Beelzebub, woke up from his sleep and he slowly rose from bed. He walked to the chair in the corner and pulled on his underwear before pulling up his pants. Charlotte stirred a little on the bed, but she was still asleep. Beelzebub smiled a small chilling smile.
He shrugged himself into his clothes. Walking over to the bed he kissed Charlotte’s innocent angel-like face as he picked up his hat from the night-table and exited the room.
Beelzebub walked along the corridor and smiled in satisfaction that his priests were doing their nightly patrol work well. As he met up with one, he instructed, “I’m going out for the moment. Guard the house well.”

“Yes, my Lord.” the priest replied.

Beelzebub left the Schwliezer house in a light mood and followed wherever his instincts told him to as he spread his wings and took flight…

Tabris woke up on his bed, feeling allot better then before he went to sleep. He sat up and shook his head, as if trying to shake all the cobwebs from his head. He sat there for a moment and seemed to be staring in to empty space. But he wasn’t. Tabris felt something had happened. His hairs were standing on ends, and a feeling of fear overcame him. He hadn’t felt like that for a long time… Only one person could put that much fear in him…

“No… it can’t be him…” Tabris muttered to himself.
Tabris stood up, immediately feeling the blood rushing down his body from his brain. He felt giddy and off-balance. He stumbled around and was forced to sit down for a while again. Shaking his head again, Tabris stood up, pulled a random shirt over himself and went out onto the balcony. Whatever it was, Tabris had an awful feeling about it. Besides the suspicion he had formed earlier, he sensed a demon doing a sacrificial ritual.
// Now this means bad… //

Tabris spread his wings and flew towards Rishta’s house again. Not to hurt her, but to protect her. It took Tabris some time for him to reach Rishta’s house, and he remained some distance away, standing there watching and putting on his best alert manner in case someone crept up from behind. He didn’t want to shock Rishta a second time.

Beelzebub was flying in the cool night sky when he spotted someone ahead flying and descending. He raised a brow. Ah, a fellow demon. How rare. Beelzebub sensed that the demon wasn’t a particularly strong demon, but he wasn’t that weak either. So what is he doing there lurking around? He seemed to be guarding the manor some distance ahead. Hmm… Beelzebub glanced at the manor and sensed an angelic presence. No, two. He frowned. How strange and extremely rare. It was an angel and a cross of human and angel! A hybrid. Very rare indeed. A sly smile came over his face. Beelzebub could almost sense the nervous feelings of the demon and that wasn’t what a demon would feel if he wanted to hurt the angels. Say… maybe the angel or hybrid is a beautiful one? That would make sense. The mere thought of it tempted Beelzebub. He wanted to see how the angels looked. He flew over swiftly and descended. He walked up straight to the demon silently, and tapped him on the shoulder.

“What are you waiting for, my dear friend?” Beelzebub said, using a frightening tone quite on purpose.

Tabris nearly yelled out when someone tapped on his shoulder and spoke to him. Behind! Why hadn’t he sensed anyone?! The voice sounded oddly familiar as Tabris turned around slowly.
He nearly fainted when he saw who was behind him. Beelzebub! The jerk… Tabris knew he had returned from the abyss all along but had avoided meeting up with him for years. He nearly wished he was couple of years older so that he could be the one handling the real Antoine Schwliezer and give the bastard a kick out of this world and back to the abyss. Tabris knew Beelzebub’s worst habit and he wondered if he knew Rishta. Tabris knew he was no match for Beelzebub even if there was another him around but… “I’m not your friend, Beelzebub. Demons never have real friends.” Tabris said as he shook Beelzebub’s hand off from his shoulder, “Go away. You have no business here.”

The dark ones from Before… Before are here… Dark is here… Voices in Raziel’s dreams haunted him as he relived memories of dying angels and laughing demons and the Fallen with their vengeful eyes.
He shot up from his bed, cold sweat evaporating in sudden heat. What was it? No. Demons, on the grounds… Demons! Tabris… And… Heaven, no… Beelzebub. That depraved bastard hell spawn.
Raziel walked out of bed, assuming his angelic guise and arming himself. He was almost up at full strength; if the protection spell can guard them, he would be finished in moments… He drew in energy from the air around him, asking the Sylphs for energy. To his surprise, they willingly gave… and gave… and gave. They stayed with him as he walked, invisibly, to the balcony.

Rishta woke up then, her body feeling rested. Her sleep had been dead, no dreams, no movement – nothing. She felt stiff and powerless, but she was happy that she had put the shield up with Raziel: her first real spell.
She walked down the halls and into her real room. The curtains were shut, and the room was dark. She inwardly shivered, the memories coming back, stronger than ever. Rishta refused to be daunted by that. She was in control of her emotions now: no one would know. She got dressed, but instead of a shawl, she let her hair down, to cover the slightly backless creation. The hair, though, she pinned back from her face with a silver clip, encrusted with diamonds – a mere toy compared with the wealth of the past owners. She stood back and looked at herself in the mirror: perfect. No one could tell she had been touched, drained, or even sleep deprived. What is wrong with you? Memories… they are haunting you now. Face them. Do not show fear. Be brave… otherwise you will DIE.

Rishta then glanced down at her wrists: there were slightly yellowed bruises there – from Tabris and her own abuse of them, by swinging the sword against his might. She needed to breathe. And so she walked out onto her balcony and turned her face into the lightened darkness – then she saw shadows: 2. One unknown, the other…

Beelzebub stiffened at Tabris’ aloofness towards him. Not very polite to someone in his ranks. Beelzebub sensed angelic presence on the balconies and took a brief look at it. Nothing or no one was there. Probably masked with invisibility spell, he thought.
“I suppose you are right, Tabris.” Beelzebub said, “But remember, we are allies until the whole thing ends. But if you want to betray us now…”

Beelzebub stopped speaking but he was jeering. A jeer which made Tabris uncomfortable. He reached out and said with a smile on his face, “Won’t you just help us for now? If not, neutral? I promise you the privilege, if you would not go against us…”

Tabris was too awed with Beelzebub’s presence to notice the invisible presence of Rishta and Raziel. He considered for a little while. A price too cheap for someone like Beelzebub. What about his chilly jeer? Tabris hated it whenever Beelzebub smiled like that. It make him feel small. Still… what if he could convince Rishta of his love for her, make her like and trust him enough to withdraw from the Gathering? It would be a good bargain then.

“Sure.” Tabris said a little stiffly as he took Beelzebub’s hand and shook him. The hand was icy cold like a stone. It didn’t take him long to regret his decision. He felt like he had made another mistake. Wasn’t a deal with a demon selling ones soul away? Except that he was a demon himself too… Oh… I hate myself…

Beelzebub smiled at that. He gripped tightly at Tabris’ hand and refused to let it go.
“You know, Tabris, for someone your age and intelligence, it is hard to believe you would trust in my words for a deal as horrible as this.” Beelzebub sneered. In a move too fast to be seen and retaliated, Beelzebub twist and broke Tabris’ right wrist. “Love is silly, Tabris!” Beelzebub said with a smirk as he spread his arms, “Love only weakens one’s will. Lust is alright though. And you Tabris,” Beelzebub’s hand moved to Tabris’ right arm and broke it as well, “has to fall in love, and of all beings, an angel. Come back to us or the night will never end with the demons of the abyss after you.”

Tabris screamed and howled in pain as Beelzebub broke his wrist first, then his arm. Then he went on rambling a whole lot of stuff which sounded like complete garbage to Tabris. Tabris couldn’t care less. He was hurting allot from his broken wrist and arm, but nothing mattered more than the safety of Rishta, for he knew Beelzebub’s nature. Tabris was worried about what Beelzebub would do to him. He still wanted to protect Rishta, though she might not need him… She had Raphael and some whole lot of other male angels. The mere thought made Tabris jealous.
He fell to his knees and held onto his broken arm. // If I’m not wrong, he’s hinting he’s coming to get you… Run, Rishta!!! // Tabris tried sending a mental message to Rishta, hoping she would get it and heed it…

Rishta was positively stunned. Tabris was shaking his hand (the scum), then it was broken. She could practically hear the sound of it. No… Something wrenched inside of her and she heard him.
// If I’m not wrong, he’s hinting he’s coming to get you… Run, Rishta!!! //
“He is warning me…” She said, to no one in particular – even though Raziel heard. “Why… there is no where safer than here… my home… protection… that bastard…” She said, probably would have stunned society with those words. Whoever this other demon was, she hated him. She ignored Tabris, and sent a message to the bastard who didn’t treat his own allies fair.

Listen to me you bastard… get away from him, now… you have no right to… She then stopped, what was she saying?! Had she thoroughly lost it?! She had no idea what to do.
“Damn it all… damn my own existence…”

Raziel watched the whole event play out in a bemused state of amazement. He watched as Beelzebub snapped Tabris’s arm easily, grounded him with kicks and words and thoughts… Raziel could feel the undercurrent of private messages, but made no move to decipher.

“That’s a bit unfair, Rishta. Especially after everything that has been done to bring you here.” Raziel dropped his guise and turned his back, walking out on the scene… A hybrid and a demon pair, like a Romeo and Juliet.

Beelzebub caught the mental message, and he looked towards the direction where it came from. He grinned at Rishta as he saw her. A beautiful angel, he observed, could be of some fun. But he had no time for that tonight. He could sense his master alive and he wanted to get to him.
// So you like Tabris? What a surprise, my little angel… // Beelzebub smirked as he kicked Tabris’ stomach hard, and thrice in a roll in a lightning speed. Tabris howled in pain and fell to the ground. He was completely defenseless in front of Beelzebub. // I will get you another day, my beloved angel… For now I have more important things to attend to… But by then… I will have to remove your lover-boy away, Tabris or not. //
Beelzebub let out a laugh as he spread his wings again and flew away.

Rishta was positively shocked when she heard Beelzebub’s voice – totally evil. Then he went on about lover boys and all that nonsense. Lover boy? What the… I, he… what?! He must be trying to confuse me… either that or I have no idea what is going on in my own life… Rishta then watched as he flew away…
“Get me? What is this? Some sort of demon-hybrid chase?!?!” She then turned to Raziel, she had been completely unaware he was here. Once again, he gets it right… but what do you do now? Where do you go when there is no where to turn for peace? You know this one… you fight.
“Wait a minute! Raziel! Uh, forgive me, but what should we do with Tabris? And um, who was that man? Why does he want to get me?”

Raziel paused and turned around, leveling his sky-blue eyes on hers.
“That man was Beelzebub, Azazel’s second in command of the demonic armies. He is as disgusting and depraved as any demon you will ever meet. He desired you. Do as you will with Tabris,” he said coolly, and walked back into the mansion.

Rishta heard Raziel and felt sick. Desired her?! Nasty, sick, gross… perverted… why her? And Tabris… she had no idea what to do with him. She had saved him, then he came back? For what?! She felt mixed up. Did he love her? Why?! That was the major question. Why did he love her? Was it even love? “I feel so… lost.” She whispered, to no one in particular. “I wonder if… Father, should I go help Tabris? But I am powerless… but maybe I can put his arm straight… father, what do you think?” She felt a warm feeling inside, a positive feeling. Yes? Maybe… I will not sink to their level and help. Then I can ask him. But, I – I will be fine! Honestly, what happened to the independent person you were?! Meet a couple of angels and demons and look at you! Grow up!

She then extended her wings and looked towards Tabris.
//Um, Raziel… I am sure you knew this was coming, but I have to see if Tabris is ok. I will be back within 10 minutes! Byes for now! She then took off towards Tabris, and landed near him. Her face was cool and impersonal. “What were you thinking?! Are you okay?!”

Tabris remained lying on the ground, with the pain seething through his body. Beelzebub’s power was still burning in his own body. He seriously doubt Beelzebub was going to keep his word after all. Tabris was disappointed to see how cool and impersonal Rishta was, but he did not show it on his face or eyes. “I’m ok.” Tabris said coolly as he stood up, supporting his broken arm with his available hand, “I’m going home now that you are alright.”

Rishta simply looked at him for a moment, eyes showing disbelief. Then they turned almost cold, but you could see worry in them: worry and fear. She was totally unarmed – the sword had been left in her room, and she was virtually powerless. He then got up, and the wild thought to shove him back down ran through her head: no one should get up when they were like this.

“Tabris. Do. Not. Move.” Rishta said, sternly, as though she was the older one, and he was the careless child. She placed her hand on his temple, and felt Beelzebub’s power. So this is how strong he is… well, if he comes after me, I am doomed. She then concentrated on the little drop of power she had left, using her pendant to make it useful. She then used it to block Tabris’ pain sensors – so he didn’t feel anything at all, although his arm probably felt numb. This left her totally drained. So I guess I am useless now… until after a few meals and sleep…
“Um, Tabris… I think you should see a doctor… there is nothing more I can do. And, I have a question – why were you here? And why in the name of Heaven were you making a deal with someone like him? Couldn’t you feel it? He was… evil. Total, endless evil…”

Tabris did not listen to Rishta. He got up, against Rishta’s wishes and he cocked his head aside, not looking at her.
“I don’t have to report EVERYTHING to you, it’s my own business.” Tabris snapped, “I know he’s evil alright! I’ve known him longer than you know and he knows me too. I’m not going to explain it to you since I suppose you are not going to be interested. As for the deal, you don’t have to care.” Tabris grinned insanely, “We strike a deal to see who can kill Raphael first since the both of us have a grudge against that bastard. And oh yeah, demons love to break arms in order to seal a pact. Happy?”

Rishta was shocked and stunned, not to mention hurt. Her justice streak had done it again, given her pain. But now she became angry – he had a lot of nerve telling her all this nonsense. “I never said you had to REPORT anything! And I was making a statement, not telling you anything you… you… why did I even COME to help you?!” She heard about Raphael and her face darkened, her eyes narrowed. “Fine. Break your arms all you want! I don’t give a damn anymore! And you try to kill Raphael, I swear I will be the one to kill you! Now excuse me! I am going to talk to people who are SANE!”
She turned and extended her wings, and prepared to leave.

Tabris’ face darkened. He was devastated. Why the heck was she so anxious over Raphael? Boy… Tabris could feel his blood boiling and flashes of the past when Raphael gave his scar came back to his mind. The feeling of hatred came back and he spread his wings.
“I’m going to kill Raphael now!!!” Tabris roared in anger as he flew away.

“Damn it… why don’t you understand?” Rishta muttered. She was worried. Her eyes dulled, and she seemed lost, worried, and extremely concerned. It wasn’t only for Ralph, she was concerned about Tabris too. Raphael… She took of for her house, as fast as she could, worried.
//RAZIEL!!! We have a problem!// She mentally shouted, ignoring the pains in her head and wings. //Tabris wants to kill Raphael! We have to warn him!//

Raziel went back out onto the balcony and unfurled his wings, releasing once more his angelic form.
//Raphael. Be warned; Tabris comes once more to do you harm, and is fully healed, thanks to a misguided sense of angelic justice.// He made sure Rishta could easily pick it up, and then sealed off his mental ‘ears’ and ‘mouth’ so that she could not speak nor read him mentally.
With a gentle rush of air, he was off into the skies, invisible to mortal eyes.

Rishta was slightly upset that her conscious had taken control again. But now she had a slight weapon. The numbing charm. Take it off at the right time, and his arm would kill. She landed on her balcony and ran into her room, grabbing the sword. She turned and flew back out, following Raphael’s signature of power. //Please be all right… God, please let him be safe…//

Samael checked his gold pocket watch, before tuning his attention back towards the large stack of old musty books. He had lost control over one of his summons, and that was unusual. He had been searching since he returned, scroll after scroll, ancient texts to recent theories, and not one contained the information he needed. At this rate, he would never accomplish his goal… The beast needed to be destroyed!

“Sir?” The young boy peeked his head around the corner, almost looking frightened. After all the weird little house was covered in occultist lore, and frightening antiques. “S-Someone needs assistance, and you are the closest I could f-find…”

He looked up from hogs books, with gruff, almost irritated expression. Samael was kicked out of his practice a long time ago, yet still he was called upon. Well, he wasn’t a spiteful man, and he didn’t seemed to be finding what he needed… He scooted from his seat, grabbing his medical bag and followed the quaking bell hop…

Knock! Knock! Knock!
Samael checked his pocket watch again, impatiently waiting for the main to open the door once he had reached the Inn. If he was going to work, he wanted to get it over with as soon as possible!

“Yes, yes! Quiet down! I’m coming, already!” Johnathon grumped as he rose from his seat. He was having the most wonderful dream of being knighted for his courage and bravery in the face of Ultimate Doom. Keep dreaming, he told himself sourly.

“It’s about time you got here,” Johnathon snapped, swinging the door open. His next sarcastic comment died and turned to ash in his throat as he looked up at the one face he least wanted to see in all the seven Hells. “And now, you’ve worn out your welcome! So, off with you!” he shouted, and slammed the door shut in Norse’s face. “I asked for a doctor, not some washed-up old codger!”

“Should have known…” Samael growled out, shoving open the door and stepping into the room, even after Johnathon’s loud protests. The man was an uneducated imbecile, and he’d be more than grateful to let his body rot, but it seemed someone else was in need of his help, and he wouldn’t turn them away.
“You may want to put your idiocies aside for the moment, Morris. Where is my patient?”

“Idi…that’s not a word!” Johnathon protested.

“It is a word, you uneducated clod,” Samael shot back. “Now do you intend to prove your ignorance all evening, or shall I perform the duties for which I was summoned?”

Johnathon was angry enough to hit something, but he managed to keep his temper in check. Almost. “She’s over there,” he said, pointing towards the small room with the bed. “And I’m only letting you in here because you’re all I could get on short notice, you insufferable quack. Do your duty, and just leave.”

“I intend to. Now, turn around. I doubt the Lady would have you staring.” Moving to the small room, he dropped his medical bag on the side table and pulled out a few necessary utensils. He gave many disapproving scowls, and irritated grumbles during his examination. For the most part, the woman seemed to be alright… A horrible gash at her side was sealed with a magical spell. He suspected Morris pulled her into some ridiculous fight, and attempted to heal her himself… The spell was impressive, but the woman was exhausted…

Giving her just a minor dose of pain medications, Samael quickly packed us his things. “She will be fine after rest. She should be involved in little activity, and if possible she shouldn’t leave bed for the next day or so.” He moved to the door, giving Morris a very disapproving scowl. The pull to summon a beast and settle this rivalry once and for all was tempting… but he couldn’t pull the innocent into their fight.

“Perhaps you should be more… discreet… in your dealings, Morris. Injuring woman isn’t what one would call ‘heroic’.” Samael scoffed.

“For your information, doctor, I came upon her while she and…a companion were being assaulted by a demonic servitor,” Johnathon said bitterly. “She was fortunate that her charge was so adept in the art of healing, or neither of us would be here standing over her right now.”

“Always adept at spinning tales, I see.” The doctor sneered, swinging open the door before turning around again. “But you were quick to bring her here, and her companion is no where to be seen…”
Samael poked a long bony finger in Johnathon’s shoulder, and commented with a low growl. “You have your righteous words, but you are no better than me, Johnathon Morris. One of these nights, you will be walking the streets alone, and not a spell in your head will save you from my summons…”

“Until then.” Standing back, he gave a cocky grin, and shut the door quickly behind him.

“Sanctimonious old…! Oh, I can’t stand the sight of him!” Johnathon fumed. “I hope he gets his heart ripped out by a succubus!”
Still raging after nearly five minutes of ranting, Johnathon hurried over to the liquor cabinet, swung the door open, and reached for the scotch in the back. Johnathon didn’t bother with the glass; he opened the bottle and took several swallows straight from the container. “Damned…stupid old man,” Johnathon muttered, taking another swallow. “I could teach him a thing or two…hmph…he’s as awful as those pushy angels…”

Azazel found himself quite disoriented once he got out of the mansion. It was still raining and all was foggy and smelled of mud. Azazel rummaged through the Baron’s memories and got himself some idea of a common outfit for the time. Being trapped in the Abyss doesn’t help you to stay on the trendy side of fashion. He unconsciously wanted Autumn to find him presentable.
Azazel cursed the rain. The clouds parted and the rain stopped. Azazel frowned slightly at this.
“My power increased”, he guessed. Azazel summoned a demonic beast in the shape of a horse infernal, which he rode into the night, following Autumn’s trace.

Soon enough, the Leader of the Armies from the Abyss reached the Inn where his wife was. He sent the demonic beast off and entered. The Inn was a good one of certain category, but he still found it too low for his taste. Invisible to human eyes, Azazel went up the stairs and to Autumn’s room, following her trace.
By now he knew she was not alone. He perceived the angelic host smell – quite foul – and a human’s. Two humans, but the second man was leaving and he met him on the stairs, even though the man didn’t see him. The man hesitated however, and Azazel guessed this one was some kind of modern-day warlock. Plus he had a seal on him and he recognized it.

Azazel rushed down the hall and entered Autumn’s room, making himself visible. He closed behind him and wrinkled his nose in disgust at the mix of scents. He turned and saw the other man drunk but still awake enough to keep on drinking. Azazel frowned and his bronze eyes blazed at the idea that he had been alone with his wife for Hell knew how long. He reached out and grabbed him by his shirt, lifting him several inches off the floor.

“Tell me your name before I kill you”, he coldly said.

Johnathon’s entire body went numb, and the half-empty liquor bottle shattered on the floor as it slipped from his fingers. He had felt the huge power coming up, but he had just assumed it was another angel…and look where his blind assumptions had gotten him now. The feeling he got from this being was almost overwhelming in power, but it lacked the warmth and calmness of the angels. This power was black, cold, and bottomless. Johnathon could feel it rolling over him like a black taint, creeping in and out of his skin.

“M…my name…is of no concern…to you…” Johnathon stammered, putting on his best angry face. “The…the servants of God are watching us. Take your foul curses back to Hell, or suffer their limitless fury!” He hoped…he prayed that he sounded half as tough as he made himself out to be. Mouthing off to this…whatever it was could be seriously bad news for him and Autumn. At any rate, he had to stall, until he thought of something clever.

Johnathon’s words momentaneously confused Azazel; when the man threatened him with the Heavenly Host’s fury, Johnathon instantly reminded the demon he was Azazel Dragon, just come out from the Abyss, not some jealous husband. But he also had this need to crush the man’s bones and skin him alive because of his wife. Wife? Azazel had never had any. He tightened his grip on Johnathon but the ring on his finger and an unknown sense compelled him to find that woman and kill this man – or best, to make him suffer.

Azazel’s eyes blazed like flame from the pits of Hell. “Oh. So the Heavenly Host is watching us?”, he replied in sarcasm. “I don’t see any of them around! Don’t talk nonsense; you are scaring me.” Azazel sniggered malevolently and lifted him in the air a couple inches more. “I asked you a question, pitiful human. Tell me your name! Or will I have to ask Autumn for it?”

I should have known better than to try and bluff a demon, Johnathon lamented to himself. Oh, Lord, why couldn’t I have gone into the practice with my father? At least he knew what he was doing!
“My name…is Johnathon Morris,” he announced, staring down at the demon, “and my family has been banishing your kind and slaying the creatures of the darkness for generations. And I am no exception, you wretched, vile, disgusting, loathsome monstrosity!”
Brave words. Now, can we back them up? Praying with all his heart that somebody on high was smiling down upon him, Johnathon pulled his holy ward from his pocket, and pressed it tightly against the back of the demon’s hand.

Azazel’s eyes blazed in rage when the holy ward burned his skin; the feeling stirred all his wrath and hatred towards all considered holy. The pain unpleasantly surprised him, even though it was not but a deep sting that made his fingers tickle and go numb. Azazel shook the man with fury and threw him smashing against the wall, like if he was some disgusting critter.
Azazel narrowed his eyes and clasped his fist as his hand recovered from the sting.

“Johnathon Morris”, he hissed, straightening his back. “You may consider yourself lucky, because you’ll join your ancestors right away!” Azazel rose his hand to deliver him a single blast of energy, but he reconsidered and snickered. He cried out strange words, yet it seemed like he was calling out for someone who awaited outside. The window glass rippled and a demonic beast pulled through, hissing and snarling in nightmarish grin. Azazel motioned to Johnathon.
“Meet Johnathon Morris. Now kill him.”

Johnathon’s painful complaints died in his throat as he lunged away from the summoned demon’s claws, barely keeping his head on his shoulders as they flew past his face, and smashed open the wall where he had been just a fraction of a second ago. Still moving, Johnathon went into a clumsy roll that deposited him on his feet, and allowed him to evade the demon’s fangs once more.

The sudden excitement and all the motion quickly caught up to Johnathon, and as soon as he righted himself, he doubled over again as the alcohol made his stomach do triple-back flips. The demon pounced, and swung with one of its arms, knocking Johnathon clear across the room and into the oak armoire. Following up on its attack, the thing jumped at Johnathon, and was more than a bit surprised when Johnathon’s silver dagger flew from the sheath in his coat sleeve and buried itself in its shoulder.

That would slow it down, but it definitely wouldn’t stop it. Johnathon quickly got back up to his feet, swallowed his lunch as it attempted to come back on him, and pulled his silver hand axe. “Your nightmarish thugs don’t frighten me, servant of the Morning Star!” he shouted in shallow bravado. “Name yourself, beast, so that I may banish you back to the pits from which you were spawned!”

Azazel watched, amused. He didn’t bat an eye when Johnathon wounded the beast, action which surely would double its rage and make the fight something more up close and personal. Azazel moved out of the battling area and grabbed the dorm’s door doorknob.

“My name? Why should I give it to you?” Azazel watched him fight the beast some more with a sinister smile. “Anyway, you won’t say I’m not generous. Call me Lord Riktophen.” With this, he carefully opened the door, slid inside the dorm and closed behind him with a soft click.

Azazel looked around. It was a rather common inn’s bedroom, with white curtains and dark oak furniture. A form laid on the bed, motionless. Azazel walked over to the bad, careful not to make the slightest noise.
The fiery hair was the first thing that called for his attention. It shone on the pillow like silk; he reached out and touched it. Autumn’s face was calm in her sleep, and she looked beautiful. Azazel smiled and caressed her cheek.
Azazel’s smile changed. It became dark, sly. He leaned over and placed a kiss on his wife’s lips.

“Won’t you open your eyes? I’ve come a long way to see you”, he said with a mocking smile.

Autumn stirred in her dreamless sleep, her body feeling heavy and so difficult to move thanks to the medications Doctor Norse had given her before. Whom ever was trying to wake her, wasn’t going to get the usual polite banter, she ached and wanted to rest… She rolled over, brushing stray strands of hair out of her face before opening her eyes to chide whom ever it was…

“Lorant…” Autumn gasped in a horse whisper, while scooting back on the bed as quickly as she could manage. He was dead! But now he was staring her in the face, those same chilling eyes and horrible smile, she still seemed to be haunted by at night… “Y-you… you’re not real… I’m dreaming… Y-you’re.. just not…”

Azazel rested his hand on his chest and put up a sad, hurt face with fake innocence to his bronze eyes. “Why do you say those awful things…? I was out for sometime, that is all! I apologize… for some businesses caused my delay, but I’m back to you, and I won’t leave you this time.”
Azazel had a dark smile.
“One would expect to find his wife home. I’m taking care of your friend, so… get dressed, dear. I’ll take you back home.” Azazel sat on the bed.
“Unless, of course…” He patted the bed, “Unless you want to stay here with me for a little while more.” He cast her an unnerving lustful look.

“No! No… We should go…” Still breathless, she remained staring for a few moments. He didn’t disappeared. She wouldn’t wake up. It was all so real, but she couldn’t let herself believe. He was gone for son long, she was almost free…
Autumn moved slowly away from him to the other side of the bed, and slid her feet to the floor. A sharp ache caused her to wince and grasp her side, but she quickly masked the pain in hopes he wouldn’t notice.

Azazel’s smile disappeared when she said No; he bit his lip, watching her. “Well… we have all the time the world has left…” In his mind, he was already planning for when they got alone in the house. He stopped when he saw her wince and grasp her side. Despite she tried to mask it, Azazel’s senses learned more that human’s eyes.

Azazel moved so quickly she hardly saw him; next second he was standing next to her.
“Why are you hurt? Who did this?”, he angrily asked through clenched teeth. Azazel touched her side and felt the bandages, plus the smell of medications… Azazel’s lip trembled with anger.
“Why are you hurt?”, he demanded to know.

Autumn unconsciously recoiled at his touch, finding each moment increasingly hard to catch her breath. This has happened too suddenly, and at the worst possible time. She couldn’t keep her thoughts straight, though she desperately need to think to be able to maneuver around her husband… Let alone her husband suddenly living again. His presence now even seem more foreboding. She wasn’t sure what to expect if he was angered…

“It was… just an accident.” She lied then, hoping something small wouldn’t agitate his temper. If he knew the whole truth, he would be enraged, and she just didn’t have the strength to handle his fits. “The man has helped me… You haven’t hurt him?”

Azazel didn’t believe a bit of her explanation and when she asked about if he had hurt the man, he grew exasperated.
“Why would you worry about him? He must be off to where he belongs by now”, he evasively replied. “It’s me you should worry about! You’ve not even asked me how have I been”, he added with narrow eyes. Azazel put his arm around her waist and caressed her hair, despite her obvious discomfort. “I’ll take you home and we’ll forget about him”, he stated. “I guess you wouldn’t want me to keep him in mind.” Azazel made a mental note to send Morris to the deepest pit of Hell he had ever had notice of while he was there. He seized her and gently sat her on a chair.

“Where’re your belongings?” He found the suitcase by her scent and pulled out a dress, which he examined with some perplexity.
“How many buttons”, he murmured, tossing it at her. “Put it on! I’ll get someone to see about your wound – and that’ll give you time to willingly tell me the truth!” I do recognize a lie, he mentally growled, offended.

Belial and Moloch quickly found the Inn. Invisible to human eyes, they went inside. Upstairs, down a conveniently lit up, empty corridor, they found the room in which Azazel was. Azazel and some other people!, including a human/demon brawl.
Making himself visible and making the Staff of Simara disappear, Belial smiled at Moloch.

“May I?”, he murmured, politely opening the door for her. “Well, well. There’s some enthusiastic people around here.” Belial traced a sigil in the middle of the space that was the door, so the noise and majicks wouldn’t be perceived out of the room, then walked in after Moloch. There was a communication door to the bedroom from the comfortable living room where they were; Azazel was inside the dorm, Belial perceived and so motioned to the dorm’s door with a slight gesture of his hand. “He’s there.”
The human was doing a fine job so far, but the demonic beast was enraged. Belial watched with interest. “I suppose he found this man here when he arrived”, he coolly commented to Moloch.

More of them! Johnathon’s hackles rose as he felt a powerful spell being woven around the door. It must have been to deter attention away from the noise going on in the room. And then, he saw the caster, stepping inside and speaking to another person. They were powerful, but not even close to the first demon.
The young woman, Autumn, was in some very serious danger. She couldn’t afford to have him scuffling around with this beast while that demon did who-knows-what to her! This had to end now!

Pulling the red gem from his pocket, Johnathon threw it at the summoned creature, shouting the command word that activated it. He couldn’t trap it in the gem, but he could release the first demon he had captured earlier that evening! It wasn’t bound to his commands, but it was certainly very angry, and determined to attack the first thing it saw–and that was the larger creature. The bigger one would tear the small demon to shreds, but that was just enough time for Johnathon to dart across the room, kick down the door to Autumn’s room, and fling his silver hand axe at the first evil entity he saw!

Azazel blinked and opened his eyes wide when Johnathon Morris broke into the bedroom, swinging a silver hand ax. Azazel let the suitcase alone, dropping the strange underwear he had found, and rose his hand with clasped fist; the outline of his sword showed and a loud clang was heard when he intercepted the ax with it. Azazel stood next to his wife’s chair and frowned, outraged.

“How dare you come into my wife’s room like this!” Azazel put his hand on Autumn’s shoulder and his fingers closed on her in a gentle but unbreakable grip to prevent her from jumping from her chair; Azazel had a sly smile.
“You are not welcome, mister Morris. Tell him, my love.” Azazel closed his free hand and the outline of his sword showed, yet it seemed to be a trick of the light.

Autumn nodded slowly, her hands tightly griping the ends of the chair she sat so rigidly in. The poor man didn’t stand a chance. The Baron didn’t seem to come back from the dead as his normal self. She wasn’t sure why his presence felt so different now, but she knew even before his death, Lorant Riktophen could easily kill a man with his bare hands alone…
“Please, Mr. Morris… Just go…”

Leave. There was nothing more Johnathon wanted to do than turn around and forget any of the events tonight ever happened. He was seriously out of his league here, and for each “brilliant” idea he had, the forces of Hell threw a dozen new problems at him.
“I…I can’t do that,” he muttered, reaching for his last silver dagger in his coat sleeve. “I promised that I’d keep you safe, by life or by death. And I’m not one who goes back on my word.”
Johnathon pulled his dagger, and swallowed his fear. “Stand back, you bottom-feeding wretch, and let that woman go, immediately!”

Azazel’s sly smile went darker. His bronze eyes shone with unholy light. He didn’t find this man amusing anymore: he found him irritating.
“Won’t you attend a lady’s request?”, he softly asked. “I am afraid you do not understand you are not welcome…” Azazel’s face seemed to change slightly, revealing a terrible beauty that was painful and terrifying to look at. His sword outline went more defined and his right hand holding the sword turned red-scaled, with sharp claws.

“Why to risk your life for her?”, he continued, gazing into the human’s soul. “It’s obvious you can’t be of help; you’re a failure, even to yourself! She’s asked you to go; you have the chance to walk away and forget about this whole business. Why wouldn’t she be alright? After all, she asked you to leave by herself…”
Azazel spoke with a low, mesmerizing voice, using his Temptation power to numb the man’s alertness. While he hypnotically spoke, he summoned his fire whip in his left hand. Azazel smiled malevolently and cracked the whip.
“Hear my words, Johnathon Morris; you know I speak truth.”

In the next room, two demonic beasts brawled with terrible anger. Next to the door, Belial felt the impulse to clap hands at the man’s deed: specially when he darted across the room as the beasts lunged at each other, and broke into the dorm. He was just in the mood to watch, curious on what Azazel would do and taking mental notes for his Book about the ritual’s results.
Belial gazed across the room and spotted the bar. He slid across the battlefield, his movements so fast and fluid the beasts blows never touched him. He crouched down on time to dodge a flying chair and opened the low doors of the bar. He chose a bottle and rose to take a goblet, pouring some wine in it. He moved away from the bar just on time before the larger beast crashed on it. Belial moved to the dorm room but still didn’t enter. He coolly tasted his wine and wrinkled his nose slightly but tasted the wine again.
“Uf.” The larger beast seized the smaller one and smashed it on the floor, stepping on its back, breaking it. The howls of agony were deafening. Belial tasted the wine, thoughtful despite the noise.
Then he heard Azazel’s voice. Belial frowned. This is getting out of proportions, he thought.

“Truth…the truth…” Johnathon could feel his awareness slipping away, but for some reason, he didn’t seem to care. The demon’s voice was pressing down on his shoulders like a great weight. All of his movements seemed sluggish and mechanical, like a puppet caught in its own strings.

There’s no point in staying. Turn around and leave.

But…what about Autumn? I promised her…

Don’t make promises you can’t keep. You could never protect her.

“No…that’s a lie…!” Johnathon shouted. “Demon! Quit trying to…”

Give up. Go home.

Focus…he needed to focus. Or find something to focus on. Without hesitation, Johnathon pulled the silver knife from his sheath and sliced into his own hand. The pain was terrific, but it was also something for him to concentrate on besides the demon’s words. “Your…pathetic mind games…will not work on me!” Johnathon shouted, wrapping his hand up in his coat to try and stop the bleeding. “My will…and resolve…is great…! And I will not leave until you have been banished!” Brave. But stupid, the voice in his head muttered. This time, Johnathon did not argue with it. He couldn’t keep this up much longer, though. He was tired, drained, and almost asleep on his feet. Unless these monsters left soon, it’d be all over for him, and possibly Autumn, as well.

Azazel cracked his whip and aimed at Johnathon; as the whip slashed his chest and the shoulder of the arm that held the knife, it blazed with blinding light, yet the whip alone seemed to be a thread of infernal fire. “What’s the human will?” Azazel asked in sarcasm. “Humans are fickle like a feather in the wind.” Azazel cracked the whip again as he spoke, ready to slash at the man again.

Azrael dived down to the Inn’s building where she perceived Autumn’s soul, as Johnathon’s and three demons she had no trouble to recognize. Adriel and Raphael followed her close, and Azrael knew only by surprise they could get an advantage, and she decided to give it to them. Azrael hovered and broke in through the bedroom’s window; summoning Filos in the shape of a spear, she covered Johnathon with it, blocking the possible attack trajectory.

Belial dropped his goblet. The glass object shattered at his feet, but the wine never touched his shoes. He moved right into the bedroom when he sensed Azrael coming. A strange feeling strangled him from inside; he wanted to overthrow her, but he also wanted… He summoned the Scythe of Simara and blocked Azrael’s spear; both weapons clashed with a chilling sound that seemed more of a howl.
Right then, the goblet met the floor and shattered.
“Greetings, Dark One”, he muttered. He forced the weapons in a round motion, clearing Azazel’s way to Johnathon and moving further into the room to face Azrael.

Moloch watched invisibly, almost clapping with delight. She was practically at full strength, and such a show to draw from. She dropped Belial’s cloaking spell. Moloch shifted back into a human form and walked quietly behind Morris.
With a quick look at Azazel, one of “You know I know this better than you, allow me instead”, she placed a quiet hand on the man’s shoulder, and whispered in his ear. “Come with us… You do not belong here.” She slipped infinitely subtle threads of coercion into his brain, manipulating and coaxing.
Her human form was dressed in a demure black gown of silk; her dark reddish hair was coiffed, and her skin moonlit white. She was a fashionable human of the times. “Come away from here, with us. It is not your time.

Johnathon’s will was spent. The shock of coming into contact with the angels, the battle against the Dire wolves, and the events that had occurred in the hotel room tonight were simply far too much for him. His endurance had run out.
“…vile…creature…” he grumbled to Moloch. “I would…rip my own throat out…before following…you…”
And then he passed out.

Moloch almost laughed with delight. It had been weeks since she last had the opportunity to break a human, much less an occultist. She had been far too busy strengthening and adding protections to her house, shields that not even Azazel would break with impunity. Not to mention noseeme spells. She pulled her Fallen guise back on; unlike the other demons, she did not delude herself with ever using her angelic form. Moloch gently picked Morris’s body off the floor; it was almost weightless to her. With a small smile, she launched out from the window, casting a disguising spell over herself and circumventing the two battling it out for all of London to see. She allowed herself a small snort of disgust.

Azazel frowned at the interruptions, as both angels and demons broke in the bedroom. Azrael, the leader of the angels of death and destruction. It called for his attention Belial’s ferocity, yet as usual the archangel was a cold as ever. As well Moloch’s interference stung his pride, for he didn’t like the I-know-best-than-you look she cast at him at all. He’d see later about these… but it was true Moloch’s coercive power was great. Azazel sheathed Lufernatia and the whip curled around his body like a live snake.

Azazel laid his hand on Autumn’s head, blurring her conscience with his dark aura, causing her to fall into a dark somnolence; he seized her in his arms and rested her head on his shoulder. He kissed her hair.
“I’ll take you home”, he murmured, walking out of the bedroom. The remaining demonic beast was curled in a corner and had a adulating, ingratiating servile smile to Azazel. Azazel regarded him with contempt.

“You’ve not finished your task. Finish it!”, he curtly said, walking out with Autumn unconscious in his arms. He pulled a cape on her and walked down the stairs.
The Innkeeper was startled at seeing a nobleman come down the stairs with an unconscious woman in his arms. He wanted to ask for the reason, but Azazel’s will weighed on his soul and the man remained silent. The early patrons didn’t interfere, either.
“I need a carriage”, Azazel said. He’d shield himself with the humans – it was cheaper than wasting energies on futile fights, for the moment; also, he had dimmed his aura to go unnoticed.

The Innkeeper called a bellboy and the kid called a carriage outside, then bowed to Azazel with a frightened look about him.
“It’s outside, milord.”

Azazel didn’t reply; he simply walked out. “Send my wife’s luggage to Riktophen House”, he indicated before going out. He stopped, for he sensed a familiar presence and wrinkled his nose slightly. Someone had just passed by and Azazel recognized him.

Beelzebub descended at the foot of the stairs outside an inn. He kept his wings and made sure he looked neat and tidy enough before he entered. Inside was not only graced with the presence of Belial and Moloch, but also his master Azazel. Beelzebub licked his lips as he felt another presence he knew too well. Azrael. He liked her enough, but she never caught his hints to her. Too bad.
Another two angels were coming… He smiled again. Another female angel and… Beelzebub frowned. That kid Raphael, he fumed silently. He could recognize the stupid angel’s aura anywhere! Beelzebub had nearly got to his sister if Raphael had not interfered…
His mood became foul at the thought of Raphael and soon they would meet again. He began to storm towards the room rather grumpily.

He stopped as he felt a strong aura pulling at his mind. He turned. Azazel. Beelzebub walked towards Azazel with a smile. He cast a spell on the people in the inn so that they would remain oblivious for the moment. “My Lord, it’s good to see you again.” Beelzebub said with a smile as he bowed to Azazel politely. He didn’t like Azazel intensively, but Azazel never ceased to impress him. “I sensed you alive, and came here.” Beelzebub said. He glanced at the unconscious Autumn in Azazel’s arms. “Who is she?” Beelzebub asked curiously. Weird, Azazel has taken a liking to women, and mortals? How rare.

Azazel had a fierce smile. “Why, thanks”, he darkly said in sarcasm. “I suppose you are ready to retake your duties, Beelzebub.”
Azazel eyed him suspiciously. “I see some things have not changed. And yes, I am alive and in a living body – the name is Lorant Riktophen and this woman here is Autumn, my wife.” Azazel frowned.
“If you dare to drop a comment on that, I’ll kill you.” After his caustic statement, Azazel frowned. “By the way, nice to see you too.”

Beelzebub couldn’t help but snigger at Azazel’s behavior. It seemed a little bit too funny to him and it was good enough that he hadn’t burst out laughing. So when did Azazel really appreciate a thing like love? Beelzebub truly felt puzzled about it as he remembered his words to Tabris. Did he ever felt love before, or was it just plainly lust?
Shrugging his thoughts away, Beelzebub said with a cool smile, “Come on, milord, it’s not like I’m going to put the moves on her if she’s yours.” Beelzebub shrugged, “I know my limits and what I should do and what I shouldn’t be doing. I’m not a mindless child.”

Azazel did not smile at Beelzebub’s reaction; he regarded with an intensely cold and dark look, however.
“What you think or not does not interest me”, he coolly replied. “I’ll judge if you are a mindless child or not, and I’ll do so by your actions. Now follow me.”
Azazel carried Autumn out and into the carriage. Once the three were inside, the driver headed to the Riktophen House.
From his seat Azazel watched Beelzebub with a strange look to his evil gaze.
“Very well, mindless child. What’s the state of the troops that remained on Earth while I was gone?”

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