Belial’s brow twitched angrily yet the look on his face was somber and cold. His deft magicks he had perfected to find his followers wherever they’d hide had found Mastema’s trace… at Farishta Manor. He had ordered him not to go there, and that was exactly what Mastema had done. If Belial didn’t know him better, he would have thought…
Why not?, he thought with bitter sarcasm. After all, I myself have turned away from the Armies of the Abyss… The Fallen secured his wards to go undetected and slipped inside the property, as he had done earlier. As before, Belial headed for the ruins beyond the lake – it seemed logic no one that’s sane would have thought to look for him there twice.
Once he reached the old ruined manor, Belial went deeper and deeper into the main building, walking through old chambers and halls in the light of scarce lightning; the roof had collapsed long ago and only part of the upper floors endured. He finally reached a large dining Hall; part of the vault still covered the place. By the foot of a mighty wall there was a stone platform on five steps. Belial flicked his hand. The scattered stones on the platform moved and gathered together like a three-dimensional puzzle, regaining their original form: a stone throne with a high back and knot carvings. Once the spell was complete, Belial plopped down on the throne and clasped his hands on the stone armrests. His eyes shimmered in the darkness like molten silver.
He tapped his fingers on the cold stone, impatient. He shifted, uncomfortable; Belial took a deep breath as he felt the need to split in two again.
“Not yet…” he murmured, biting his lip.
A small shadow skittered among ruined walls into the impotent ruins of a massive manor on a small hill, beyond a lake where the gardens ended. Silent footsteps didn’t leave a trace behind as the small shadow ran deeper into the building, following an invisible trace coded by the Archdemon of his Legions, like him a former Angel of Destruction.
Moonlight and lightning struck through a sunk dome, piercing the dark in an empty dining hall like a bundle of swords. The cat skittered in, sensing the origin of the call in the chamber. The tabby sat in the moonlight, licking his paw. Then he spotted the unnerving shimmer of silver eyes in the far wall, like small stars; the tabby ran towards the strange lights with its tail tip flicked in complacency. There was a platform, a stone throne and a dark silhouette sat on the throne; silver eyes shimmered. Mastema laid his ears back upon not seeing any welcoming sign on Belial’s part. He retook his demon form and tried a smile in greeting; the horrible face wasn’t improved by it.
“Here I am!, since you’ve called me.” Mastema swept a look around.
“I was just out for a walk. No one knows I’m here, I assure you, Belial…”
Belial pressed his back against the stone throne and frowned.
“You are an irresponsible”, he slowly said with a dark voice. “You shouldn’t have come here to the Heaven Host grounds, and I am sure you know it. If the occasion were different, I know well what I’d do with you. However, the occasion is different.” Belial’s lip curled in sarcasm as he saw surprise and confusion in Mastema’s eyes.
“You’ve been too busy to pay attention. Hadn’t you heard the news Moloch sent? If not… I’ll inform you myself.” Belial straightened his back.
Mastema frowned slightly, confused by Belial’s attitude. He didn’t quite know what to figure out from it. “What news?”, he asked with a blink. “Do they concern to the battles?” Mastema swept a look around, then sat on the steps before the throne. “Um, if you don’t mind I’ll take a seat!”
Belial frowned as Mastema made himself at home. His fingers marked an impatient rhythm on the stone armrests of the throne.
“Yes and no”, he replied. “It concerns to us, but it’s MY decision. It might concern to the battles, but I don’t really care about it. I have made my choice.”
“Skip the riddle,” pleaded Mastema. Belial’s eyes flashed at the impertinence and Mastema swallowed.
“Anyway…”, Belial continued, his eyes shimmering darkly, “I shall be brief. I have left the Armies from the Abyss. I have deserted, if you wish. I find proper to let you know myself.” Belial leaned back in the throne, lazily.
Mastema gawked at Belial for a couple minutes. He was too shocked to speak; he thought at first it was some sort of joke, but Belial’s demeanor forced him to quickly discard the possibility. Mastema gasped.
Mastema let out a harsh cackle. “It’s some sort of joke, isn’t it…? No…?” Belial shook his head slowly and Mastema sprang back to his feet.
“For your soul’s sake, Belial… You can’t be serious! No no no… wait I’m not challenging you!” Mastema shook his hand in dismissal as Belial motioned to get up, then leaned back in the throne again. “That is stupid! Yes, it is! But… why NOW?! The Battles are about to start, we need you! Your Legions expect a lot from you… and so do I! Plus… Azazel won’t be happy at this!”
Belial frowned. “I don’t give a damn about what Azazel thinks. Yes, I am a selfish, egocentric person and I’m looking after my own interests alone. I am an Archdemon, remember?” Belial snickered. “I don’t think you had not noticed that”, he said in bitter sarcasm. Belial bit his lip and the shimmer in his eyes dimmed lightly.
Mastema’s eyes were filled with anger now, yet also with concern.
“Belial”, he said shaking his head, “This is not a good idea on your part. Azazel… well I won’t deny that guy scares me! His power… I have sensed it! All these centuries his power grew a lot! Why did you take this decision? I’ve been loyal to you. I have followed you and I know I owe you…” He raised his mutilated hand with the silver finger shining on it. “I want to know what’s going on!”
Belial forced a smirk. “No. You don’t want to know”, he slowly said. “It will have to be enough for you to know, I won’t baby-sit Lucifer’s kid anymore. My loyalty was to Lucifer – I never swore to follow Azazel.” Belial made a pause. “Do you remember… when you asked me what was going on, when the rebellion started back when we were angels? I told you what Lucifer had told me.”
Mastema nodded. “I remember”, he said. “Mankind enslaved angels and we could be free; that’s what you said.”
“Yes, indeed.” Belial clasped his hands on the armrests. “That’s what he said. I wanted – I want to be free. I refuse to be Azazel’s slave. There’s nothing in the Armies of the Abyss left for me. I’ve lost my bond to them the very day Lucifer died and we were Sealed in. I don’t belong in the Armies anymore. Azazel wants to own us all and rule over the world and his brethren as an Absolute. I won’t be a part of that, even if I have to die – I don’t care.” Belial rose from the throne. “Perhaps if I die I’ll vanish into nothingness, for the things I have done. Maybe that’s what the Order did to Lucifer. I tried to find him, to track down his soul – it was futile. I don’t see the point to allow myself to be oppressed by Azazel – if I must die I’ll die in any case, and that will be it, maybe. There are things beyond Life only a few know of.” Belial’s voice was dark, somber, grim. “There are things I have denied to myself and I can conceal no more. My decision is taken. I shall leave these place and will start on a new path.”
Mastema watched Belial in silence as he spoke. Mastema frowned and made a choice. The demon shook his head with a mix of resignation and determination.
“How ‘I will’? I think it’s ‘we will’“, he softly pointed out with a smirk. “When do we leave?”, he asked with wide open eyes. “I don’t suppose you’ve not considered at least part of your Legions would still follow you. I know I will.”
Belial frowned and shook his head.
“Not this time. You will stay with the Legions.” Belial shrugged his shoulders with elegance. “It’s no use to follow me, Mastema. I can’t lead you to anywhere you’d want to go. You will stay.”
Mastema grimly shook his head.
“You can’t force me to stay if I don’t want to”, he said. “Besides, why wouldn’t I follow you? If it wasn’t because of you, I would’ve wandered as a Forsaken since the Fall, have you forgotten that?” Mastema’s lips formed a smile filled with sharp, pointy teeth.
Belial narrowed his eyes.
“I’ve not forgotten that”, he slowly said. “Nor have I forgotten what the Host did to you. It’s not convenient for you to follow me this time.”
Mastema’s eyes flashed.
“I don’t care if you want me to stay”, he fiercely blurted out. “I’m sure many would agree with me. If you leave, your Legions will be dispersed and will be absorbed by the other Archdemon’s. Our lives wouldn’t count much, if our Master deserts; we’d be despised. You have a great power and yet Azazel is powerful… we’ve trusted you! There’s no reason why we wouldn’t choose to leave with you! At least many of us would.”
Belial’s eyes flashed; he narrowed his eyes and the very air shook around him, causing Mastema to give a step back as the Archdemon’s black and silver aura nearly became a physical force.
“You will do as I say!”, Belial hissed. “I don’t have time to reason with you! It’s for your own good, ungrateful Fallen!” The walls began to shake and Belial quickly restrained his power to prevent attracting unwanted attention.
“I’ll give you a reason!”, he snorted. Belial took a deep breath. The outline of his body seemed to shimmer and become blurry, then he suddenly split in Angel and Aramis.
Angel plopped down on the throne, scowling at Mastema. Aramis grimly looked at Mastema but still didn’t say anything. Mastema stared in fascination, yet there was also a taint of horror in his eyes mixed with curiosity. Angel narrowed his eyes.
“Another wonder to behold”, he slowly spoke. “I accomplished this after you returned to the Abyss and got trapped inside. I have doubled my power and this semblance”, he waved his hand towards Aramis, “is an effective bait. I am Angel; he is Aramis. We both are Belial. Aramis does look like an angel, doesn’t he?” Angel cast Mastema an inquisitive look.
Mastema felt uneasy, not knowing where did Belial want to get with this display. He looked at Aramis and a strange feeling of reverie struck him. He did look like an angel; he was exactly like Belial once were. Mastema, once an angel himself, felt pain confronted to his own memories. There was purity and innocence to this angel he saw, but still the taint of the Fall dimmed his radiant beauty.
“He looks like an angel”, he admitted, “but still the taint of the Fall shows on this semblance of you. I am a Warlock and as such I can perceive it. How come… the two are you? How did you do this? Why?”
Angel snickered darkly under his breath. “I split myself in my Light and Darkness”, he muttered. He paled gradually. “We both are Belial… but if you think he’s a simple semblance, I’ve fooled you like I’ve fooled everyone else.”
Aramis bit his lip as Angel continued, “You’ll see why you should not follow me. I’ve left the Armies; I’m an outlaw for both parties. I’ve reached the end of the alley and I do not need to keep appearances anymore.”
Angel chanted a spell in a low voice as he drew a sigil in the air before Aramis. Aramis touched the sigil and added a trace; the sigil broke and a dark cloak of subtle darkness became visible on Aramis. Angel pulled it off and the tail disappeared from Aramis. His Light became pure, blinding. Angel felt a knot form in his throat.
Aramis held himself. His aura dimmed quickly. “I’ve been cursed”, Angel muttered. “This is the worst aberration I could ever imagine… It just… happened. The truth within me became apparent. There is Dark and Light in me, but the Light in me… is still an angel’s. Still, I am an Archdemon. Nobody else knows this, Mastema. I don’t care to keep it secret anymore – it’s no use. Do you realize now why you shouldn’t follow me? Every demon would want to kill me because of this.”
Mastema once again found himself speechless. He blinked and opened his lips, but still no sound came out of them. After some time, Mastema gasped.
He broke into an unwilling snicker. Suddenly, he laughed – his shoulders shook violently as he laughed hard. Mastema slid his fingers beneath his chin. There was a soft click and the horrible face lost all expression.
Mastema pulled lightly. He moved his hand upwards and his face separated as a mask – and it was a mask, indeed. The face he revealed behind the mask was a beautiful face; his lip still twitched with laughter, but he was crying, actually. Tears slid down his cheeks.
“Every demon would want to kill you, indeed”, he said with his green eyes flashing, filled with tears, “I would! I feel betrayed…” Mastema wiped his eyes. “I tell you, Belial… you are not the only one that holds secrets. It happens, though…”
Mastema coughed. “How come this… has happened to you?”, he asked. “I don’t know… It’s horrible, I must say….” Mastema was visibly shocked. He shook his head and rubbed his silver finger.
“I’ve never been good on taking personal decisions”, he slowly said. “I still think though… I’d rather follow you than Azazel.” Mastema stared at Aramis, then at Angel.
Mastema rubbed his nose. He sensed someone coming. “Uh… someone!”
Aramis felt like hiding. He didn’t like the turn of things, and Angel had a strange surge of apathy that was kind of alarming. After all the time they had spent working to hide Aramis’ nature and all the things they had made to keep their angelic nature in the shadows, the situation had given an abrupt turn.
Angel narrowed his eyes and pressed his back against the cold stone throne. He was already planning ahead, gathering all the loose threads to weave them into a coherent whole; he knew he did have to plan for his new life. However maybe unconsciously, Angel was losing his motivations quickly.
Belial watched Mastema as he laughed hysterically, struck by the revelation. Aramis stood next to the throne and Angel slightly leaned towards him. Aramis shook his head upon Mastema’s words.
“Not this time, I insist”, he said. “Don’t follow me. I have nothing to offer.”
Angel bit his lip and the expression in his eyes became darker. Mastema had noticed someone coming closer. Angel sensed two angels in the area. The Fallen tapped rhythmically on the stone armrest.
“You won’t follow me. That is it. It’s time to leave, anyway.”
Beelzebub folded his wings down and kept silent as he hid behind the shadows. He couldn’t hear much. Darn the crickets! But he did caught something very interesting. He knew about Belial’s split, but to have him say the word ‘angel’, was something different. Not that it was anything rare but the way he made it sound is different. It was then Beelzebub felt something break. The connection. Mastema had sensed him. Perhaps Belial too. It might do some good to rid of Belial. Maybe not. Leave him to Azazel. Yep. Why should I bother with such trivial matters? I have more important stuff to do. I still have to play around with that Raphael. “It’s me.” Beelzebub said as he stepped out of his hiding place and the moonlight shone slightly on Beelzebub, revealing his faint but familiar sly smile.
Angel furrowed his brow and shifted in the stone throne. Aramis bit his lip. //Beelzebub is here.//
Angel smirked. //Yes. Maybe he’d like to fight us, then fight the Archangels, the Host and whatever else is lurking here.// He motioned to the door and Aramis nodded.
//Rishta is near, I know. I’d swear Michael is, too.//
“Look, Mastema. Perhaps you could claim I threatened you and you scaped from me. The walls have ears… and I’m not a suitable company for decent demons.” Angel’s voice seeped sarcasm.
Aramis shook his head.
“Go away before they accuse you of being a rebel, too.” Aramis’s wings became visible.
Beelzebub came out in the open and he was still smiling, though a little disapproving. “I suppose that’s for me? What a bad bad demon you are.” Beelzebub teased, as if Belial was a child. He glanced at Aramis. “I like him better.” Beelzebub announced as he pointed at Aramis, not caring how rude it actually is. Perhaps he did it on purpose.
“Well anyway I’m not here to fight anyone, even though Azazel does give me some work to do.” Beelzebub said, grinning ear to ear at Belial before eyeing at Mastema. “I don’t care what you plan to do to Azazel or your future plans. Just leave me and my ‘toys’ alone as I will do you the favor now. You know how eager the rest are in finding you, tearing you up and eating you? Yes….” Beelzebub shook his head and gazed at Belial, “I think Moloch has a thing for you. She was unusually snappy tonight.” Beelzebub commented carelessly, not really realizing that he himself was a little cause of Moloch’s anger too.
Rishta stood there stunned, as she and Michael stood at her old ruins. He had “whisked” her away faster then she could protest, and there they were. Unnerving. She turned to say something, but a familiar feeling struck her. It wasn’t any angelic sense, but she felt there was an intruder here… Like any person could tell when their home had been disturbed, Rishta could tell that there was someone in her home. Who would dare to enter here? But it felt familiar too… he wouldn’t. After he had made that scene, he came back? It made no sense. Only one thing to do.
She walked away.
Leaving Michael behind to follow on his own, Rishta walked along the decrepit old halls, familiar yet different. Parts had been burnt away. Others had simply crumpled away. Time’s little gift to her. Stepping up archaic stairs, she reached the dining hall… and stopped.
There were two here.
Michael sensed the presence as Rishta did… First two then three. At her stopping, he scowled and quickly grabbed her hand. “Bloody hell, we’re not staying here either.” He pulled at her in the opposite direction of the power he sensed. It was an odd mixture of things he couldn’t explain, and it was just best for Rishta if they avoided any more confrontation if possible. He sighed, putting on a more cheery expression. “My stomach is making an awful noise. Didn’t you promise us dinner? I’m willing to bet Azrael isn’t even sure how to eat and will need our help…”
Rishta blinked as Michael began to pull her away, wondering what had come over him: sure there were demons here, but they were in HER home. Nasty evil people. You don’t invade her home. Never never never.
Glaring in the direction of the demons, Rishta tried to tug her hand away, but to no avail. “Michael! Let me go! They aren’t supposed to be here! Michael!” As he continued to drag her, Rishta felt a surge of impatience. She pushed it back down, however, knowing that Michael thought he was doing the right thing – which wasn’t so comforting as she tried to believe.
Blinking, Rishta decided that she had to go see, but she didn’t want Michael to follow. Dinner would have to wait for her. “Yes Michael, I did. You can go on ahead… I just want to see something. So just go on ahead to the house…”
Michael gazed down at her as if she had grown three new sets of heads. “Are you insane, woman!? I am not leaving you alone here with a bunch of demons!” It was obvious he wouldn’t be able to take her back without a good amount of force. He was going to have to go along. “Alright then… we’ll ask you demons to leave…” ‘Or slice them to pieces.’ he thought to himself. “Then, will you please come back to the house with me, cookie? We’re going to need all the rest we can get…”
Rishta merely blinked as Michael yelled at her. ‘Honestly… one would think that I had done something wrong… must be due to the lack of sleep and food.’In fact, she wouldn’t be surprised if he just picked her up and carried her back home. The horror. What was the world coming too? When Michael said that he was going to come along, Rishta blinked in alarm. Belial and the other demons, with an irritated Michael, who was obviously overreacting about her seeing them. It was a recipe for disaster. ‘I really should go by myself, but I don’t think anyone will stop him. I hope this won’t be a problem…’
Cookie. Once again, she heard cookie. Michael was never going to stop calling her that… but this time, it didn’t get her upset. In fact, it made her sort of… happy. Almost pleased. Strange how that once accursed nickname made her want to smile. It seemed to prove that Michael was the same Michael. He wasn’t the type to change… at least, change dramatically. But then again, it was impossible to stay the same over the years. Change always had to occur… She knew that well enough.
“Alright Michael…” Rishta murmured, defeated. Taking his hand, she led him through the ancient halls towards the dining room.
Mastema was too shocked too speak. He couldn’t tell if Beelzebub was being serious or not about him not caring about Belial’s and his doings. Words coming from an archdemon were to be taken warily, though. Mastema stayed on the steps before the throne where Angel sat, but he moved slightly back. The angelic presences he sensed were coming closer. Aramis’ aura has been dimmed but it still was startling, confusing. Mastema tried to calm himself down and clear up his mind in case he needed to cast some defensive spells. Another presence came into his mind.
“Is Cadmiel assisting Raziel here?”, he asked Belial.
“No”, Aramis softly said. “Cadmiel is dead.”
Aramis watched Beelzebub, still relaxed but ready to counteract any attack from the archdemon’s part. Angel tapped his fingers on the stone armrest, impatiently.
“He’s very dead”, he confirmed to Mastema.
“But I’ve sensed him…” Mastema didn’t like the turn of things, but he still lingered. He didn’t want to leave… yet… He gazed towards the door he had used to get into the hall. “They’re at the gate, Belial!”
Rishta continued to more or less lead Michael to the old dining room. She did not see the ruins that surrounded them, although she was very aware of their existence. To her, the halls were just as they had always been… her wishes had become an illusion to her, the girl believed in them so deeply. And so, even though they walked through ruins, and she saw them – her mind processed the pictures differently. So much pain had happened there… it was enough to break the strongest of minds.
“This is a stupid idea…” Michael had muttered as she led him around the over grown ruins of her old home. He saw nothing but rubble and decay, though in Rishta’s eyes he could she saw much more. It was curious to watch her in this place. How she would run her fingers across the air as if she were gently touching old pieces of furniture that once stood there. As they walked, he too found himself lost in thoughts of Rishta’s past. Wondering what it was like for she and her family so long ago. Her mother and father so happy to be with their child… She was half angel, Michael suddenly wondered if it were her mother or her father that was the one from heaven. He never thought to ask, or even had it cross his mind. He was so consumed with the events of late.
Sighing and closing her eyes for a moment, Rishta could have sworn she felt another familiar presence… there was Belial, an unknown… and it couldn’t be. She hated him. Cruel and merciless… he was the pure image of what had ruined her life. Beelzebub. He had promised her they would meet again, and meet they were about to. But she would not even LOOK at him.
Feeling resolved, Rishta walked into the ancient room, the towering stonewalls crumbling, the etchings faded… but that throne… Angel was on it – but she recognized it. The main throne… her grandfather sat there always, proud and stern… But no. He was dead. Years had past since then. Holding to that thought, she smiled a small sad, and shy smile at Aramis. Then she nodded in Angel’s direction, the man as pride-filled as ever. But you had to respect that. Rishta then turned to the man on the steps, and nodded, not knowing who he was, but counting on luck that he wasn’t some bloodthirsty demon.
She ignored Beelzebub.
“It is good to see you again.”
The presence of Belial, Beelzebub, and another demon brought Michael sharply back to the present. However, it was Rishta’s home. Something Rishta wanted to handle. He stood by out of respect for her, not saying a word only glaring.
Beelzebub was less than satisfied that no one was paying him any attention. However, it may seem to be the best option for him to sneak away. So many angels and demons around. Even Michael and Rishta was out here. Only a handful of badly-skilled angels might be left to guard the beautiful Baroness. He wondered why Azazel let him go along with the mission when he knew his bad habits. Beelzebub managed to sneak away successfully into the other side of the manor as he used his demonic senses to track down the scent of the Baroness. He sniffed someone else too. ‘Shoot! Raphael! Why do I have to meet him every time at ANYWHERE!’
Bereft of both horse and carriage, Johnathon was forced to wander the rainy streets alone, searching for Norse all over downtown. Soaking wet down to his skin and inside his boots, Johnathon was not pleased. He could usually attune his extra sense to Samael’s unusual powers, but for some reason, the old fool had suddenly vanished. He might have been killed. Johnathon shivered, and hurried down the street. That was a thought he didn’t want to dwell on. Without Samael, he wouldn’t have the strength or knowledge on how to send Azazel and the others back to where they came from.
Of course, if it hadn’t been for his hot-headed bungling, he wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. Samael had to take some of the blame, but he couldn’t dump it all on the doctor. Funny, though, how one botched spell had led to so much chaos. It didn’t seem right. It didn’t seem at all fair, either. But life was hardly ever fair. That was a lesson he had learned the hard way, a long time ago, with the passing of his father, Basil. What would he have done in a situation like this? ‘He probably wouldn’t be stuck dead in a fix like this one,’ Johnathon grumpily reminded himself.
Suddenly, Johnathon’s extra sense gave a twinge. He could sense a slight flicker of otherworldly power very close by. That had to be Samael! If there was a God in Heaven, that tiny speck of power would be Samael!
“Dr. Norse!” Johnathon called out. “Samael! I know you’re out here, you stuffy old fool! Oh, please, in the name of God, Samael! Get over here so I can take you back with me and we can get out of this blasted rain!”
“Idiot.. I don’t have time for you right now!” Samael growled out, continuing at his speedy pace through the rain. His soul returned, he intended to keep every last promise he made to himself and God. Every last demon he unleashed would be returned to their hell… starting with the greatest of them all.
Suddenly he stopped and turned on his heels. Grabbing Johnathon by the collar before he could blink twice. “Do you realize what we have done…? All these years…” He let go, shoving Johnathon back before setting pace and walking once again. He didn’t wait to see if he would follow, just continued speaking.
“They are all going back! You will have to send them back! Tonight… just the one…” Samael muttered random phrases here and there, all seeming like nonsense from the mouth of a madmen. He spoke of spells, scrolls… Before Johnathon could realize where they were headed, they had reached Samael’s home.
Swinging open the door, Samael headed straight for his library. “It must be done discreetly! He can not notice our presence or it will never be completed… Protection wards, perhaps a distraction, yes…” Snatching up a book and flipping through the pages, he paused for several moments. The urgency in his voice dropped, and he suddenly looked like a very worn old man. “Morris… we have to make it right…”
In all the years Johnathon had known Samael, never before had he seen the man so… human. He had always seemed indestructible, infallible. Now, an unfamiliar depth was in his eyes, mixed with a sad determination. There was also a sense of wholeness around the doctor now. As if he had found something he had lost long ago.
“I know what must be done,” Johnathon replied, taking the book from Samael’s hands. “That’s why I came looking for you. I have experienced the bitter fruits of our meaningless feud first-hand, and it is one I doubt I will ever forget. Such evil should not go unpunished, so long as a Morris is around to prevent it.
“But, I cannot do this alone, Samael. You were always the better summoner and spellcaster. I have come to you know so that we may put aside our rivalry, and work together for the good of all living things. Whatever decency and humanity you have in you, Dr. Norse, please, summon it up now, and return with me to the Farishta Manor. I shall explain everything to you along the way.”
Samael gave a heavy sigh, resisting his urge to throttle the younger man for his profound density. “Fool! Why do you think we are here! To have a late night glass of cognac and speak of old times?!” He snatched the book angrily out of Johnathon’s hands. Flipping through the pages, he scribbled down some key phrases and spells on a piece of parchment and shoved them in to his pocket. Gathering trinkets, wards other useful things he filled his pockets, and Johnathon’s with as much ‘power’ as he could. They were facing a powerful foe.. the very son of the devil.
“Let us go.” Samael said gravely.
Johnathon threw open the door and marched back inside the house, not bothering to shuck off his soggy cloak. “Autumn! Come here, quickly!” he called again, showing Samael inside. Johnathon closed the door, and moved into the parlor where he had left her. The fire was still going, but Autumn was gone. Where on earth could she have gotten to? Could she have told the angels…?
No, it wasn’t possible. She was a woman of principle and nobility. She would never snitch. But if she wasn’t here, where could she have gone? It was a pity he couldn’t sense her like he could the angels and demons; he’d be able to find her in a heartbeat. But without some kind of higher power to focus on, it’d be impossible to find her now.
“Blast it all…just when I think I have a handle on things, it all starts to fall apart again!” Johnathon turned to Samael. “The girl’s gone, and I fear the worst. Her husband may have come for her, or worse, she’s gone to him. There are no more angels within some distance of here, either…” Johnathon approached Samael, and placed his hands on the doctor’s shoulders. “I need your help, Dr. Norse. A summoned creature would be able to cover ground much faster than the two of us. We need something that can fly, and can travel at great speeds.”
“Have you lost your wits!” Samael sputtered. “Summoning a beast now would surely be suicidal! With all the demonic powers that have been set free, it would be near impossible to control them now!”
Beelzebub was complaining to himself about Raphael and Belial when he caught a loud voice shouting for a name. Autumn. Ahh… isn’t that the name of the Baroness? He remembered the beautiful name distinctively. Beelzebub followed the direction of the sound waves and entered into the room. He stared at Jonathan and Samael before smiling. “Oh… Look who we have here…” Beelzebub said with a sly grin on his face.
Johnathon released Samael, and quickly spun around to see who was addressing them. The demonic aura around the stranger crashed into Johnathon like a tidal wave; a power this great could only come from one of Azazel’s servants. The demons Belial and Moloch, he had seen… and under the service of the leader of the armies of the damned, only one other name came to mind.
“Beelzebub,” Johnathon whispered breathlessly. The Lord of the Flies, standing before them, and Johnathon without any of his relics. He should have stopped by Greystone on his way here to pick up his spare equipment! With his attention now fixed on his extra sense, Johnathon could pick up other powerful beings–angels, two of them, a powerful warlock, and something else he couldn’t identify, but it felt strangely familiar.
Samael shot the demon a glaring, wary glance but kept his silence. They were wasting precious time with these battle of words, and this woman Morris was seeking could not be of any use to them against an army of darkness!
“I have no idea how you got in, or what you want here,” Johnathon said after a moment, “but whatever your business is, I cannot allow you to carry it out. I shall find a way to stop you, demon!” Johnathon stood out in front of Samael, with a blessing on his lips. It wasn’t going to be much when he presented it, but it would have to do.
“Really?” Beelzebub sounded hurt, though his eyes were challenging Johnathon’s words. He didn’t believe Jonathan had the power to drive him away. Whatever powers he had, he was still a harmless human. Hah! Those humans he had always despised. “Remember… there’s always something you did terribly wrong in your life… and the demons of the Fall will inscribe it in a Book of Sins.” Smilingly, Beelzebub took a step forward, “And if it’s of a greater sin, you just have to surrender yourself to us after death…”
Let’s see if they take this bullshit… “Now cut the crap off.” Beelzebub stared into Johnathon’s eyes, “I’m not here for a fight. I just want the Baroness. The brat wants her.”
Brat? He must be speaking of Azazel. Funny, though, thinking of a demonlord in such degrading terms.
“Miss Riktophen… is not here,” Johnathon replied, relaxing a bit. “She left the manor while I was out. It’s anybody’s guess where she ran off to.” He actually had a fairly good idea, but he hoped he was wrong. If she had gone back to Lorant, he’d definitely have his work cut out for him.
Beelzebub groaned angrily. He didn’t like this news at all. He had come for nothing then? He would like to stay here a little more to search the house, for he didn’t really trust the human. However, if Autumn was not around he might just be wasting some precious time. Besides, that brat Raphael was close.
“I will take it as the truth though, although I don’t believe you.” Beelzebub said uncaringly, “I will just tell the brat that the angels are protecting her. The brat can come snatch her himself. I don’t care. She’s not mine anyway.” Beelzebub sounded a little sour as he turned and walked off. He knew he had to, quickly, for he could feel Raphael coming nearer.
Johnathon waited for a long moment after Beelzebub left before dropping down to his knees. His legs felt like blood pudding, and his stomach was only now starting to unknot. Lord, he felt like throwing up! The demonic aura was just beginning to trail away, and as it left, Johnathon slowly found it easier to breathe. That was an experience he did not want to revisit, yet he was going to, on a whole new level once he and Samael reached Azazel.
“We have no time to waste,” he muttered, turning back to Dr. Norse. “The demons are seeking Autumn, and I believe I know where she is headed.” Johnathon shrugged his cloak higher up onto his shoulders, and headed back out into the rain with Samael in tow.
“Quickly, back to Greystone! I must gather my spare equipment… and then, prepare ourselves to enter the lion’s den for the final time.”
Raphael hurried along the corridors and down the paths. He was sensing out Mastema somewhere, along with Michael, Rishta and… Belial. He sucked in a breathe. What a pack. He would have to fly again, Raphael mused. Raphael reached the doors and was about to open it when he felt a familiar demonic aura tugging at his deepest emotions. Anger and fury rose as Raphael turned around and charged up. In a blinding speed, he ran past several rooms.
Too late. The scent was gone. Or rather, fading away. He was gone. Raphael burst into the room and his face was twisted in an almost demonic look itself, filled with hatred.
“Where is he?!” Raphael demanded as he moved closer to Johnathon, grabbing him by the collar fiercely, “Where’s that bastard?!” If Samael was even trying to do anything, Raphael didn’t care. All he wanted was the man who haunted his dreams. Beelzebub.
Johnathon nearly jumped clean out of his boots when Raphael came out of nowhere and grabbed him. It took him a moment to stop struggling, and open his eyes. “You… Raphael? What in blazes are you doing here?” Johnathon wrenched himself free from the angel’s grasp, and straightened his coat again. “Have you lost your mind? I thought you were Beelzebub!”
Raphael’s eyes lit up when Johnathon spoke the name of the demon. That must be the “bastard” he’s looking for. “And, for your information, I have no idea where he ran off to. Quite frankly, I don’t care. If he stays out of my hair for the remainder of the evening, so be it. It’ll be one less trouble to deal with.” Setting his jaw, Johnathon led Samael back outside, and continued towards uptown.
Raphael growled after Johnathon. He didn’t take notice of Samael, even though he knew that Samael wasn’t a good ‘thing’. He was simply angry that he came too late. Suddenly, something snapped in his mind and he knew he was too late again. As if seeing through Beelzebub’s eyes, Raphael saw the deaths of Tabris and Uriel. Raphael moaned and screamed in pain as he held his head with both hands. He could hear his blood pumping through his brains and heart loud in his ears. Raphael shut his eyes, trying to keep the horrible images out but they wouldn’t go for some reason. He knew who was responsible for sending these images.
“Noooooo…” Raphael moaned as he swung around and smashed a few things around with his powers.
Unable to face the horrible truth that was placed before his very eyes, Raphael summoned Strife and gripped it tightly. He was not going to see anything else. No. Not ever.
“Beelzebub, you put such a curse on me!” Raphael screamed, “I will tear you to pieces if I ever catches you!” Without hesitation, he stabbed both his eyes with Strife and blood oozed from Strife. It hurts so much that Raphael fainted, falling flat on the floor.