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Shadows Beneath

CHAPTER THREE

Near the University, in a secluded spot, the world began to move. Rats scurried from their dens in anticipation. Insects began to buzz and fly wildly. Even a serpent or two made an appearance at the “gathering.” Three pairs of malevolent eyes stared out of the shadows.

“The human world,” one whispered, an exceedingly dark and sinister hiss.

“Yes…” another voice, this one dry and brittle, with a sarcastic undertone, “It's been far too long.”

“Can you feel his presence?” the third voice whispered, a dignified, noble tone, “Our Lord is here.”

“He is not alone,” the first voice hissed, “There are others…demons and angels alike…”

“It does not matter,” the third replied, “He is here.”

“Yes…” the second voice again, “now, let us quit wasting time and find him.”

The three pairs of eyes vanished and the rats, insects, and snakes fled the location in a rush of buzzes, screeches and hissing.

Jem opened the car door and stepped out of it before closing it. He bowed to the chauffeur John, smiling in appreciation. At Rishta’s home he had bathed and changed in his special room. One he took the effort and excuse to acquire, to keep an eye on her when the servants couldn’t. Jem thought the old house was too big for her and with so few numbers of servants to take care of it. By all means, he was now dressed in black leather clothes with a plain white shirt. He went to the other side of the car and opened the door for Rishta. Extending his hand out to her, he smiled sweetly.

Rishta leaned back in the limo, as the car came to a stop near the college. She had changed back home, and was now wearing black pants and a white shirt, on which was scrawled some kanji – from her trip to Tokyo a year or so ago. Over it was a jacket and with it were dark boots. Her hair had been pulled back to a ponytail, securely tied with a dark ribbon. When they stopped, she blinked as Jem opened the door for her and helped her step out. With an innocent smile, she murmured a thanks. He was such a doll. With a start, she realized they were late for Medieval Philosophy!

Adriel rushed on her way to the old gothic buildings in the campus where she was to take her next class on Medieval Philosophy, painfully aware that she was going to be late. The black hair waved behind her like a black silk flag as she ran, clutching a notebook to her chest and her bag shaking at her side. Adriel turned her head and saw Rishta's car park by. The little Irish girl smiled and stopped to wave at the newcomers; maybe they were late to class as well. Tilting her head gracefully, Adriel pulled her bag strap on her shoulder so it wouldn't slip. “Morning!” she cheerfully called.

Blinking, Rishta turned to the familiar voice. Adriel! “Adri!! You're late too?” Pulling her bag from the car, she began to tug Jem, and then broke into a brisk walk next to her friend, as Jem walked next to her. He looked really cute in a 'punkish' way – and Rishta couldn't help but smile at the thought of him shopping for clothes. It was a dangerous business. “What’s up?”

Adriel hugged her notebook and grinned, her green and golden eyes sparkling in innocent joy. “Hi Rishta! How was it on your vacation trip? You were going to Italy, weren't you? I went to my family's manor in Ireland, just that. I would love to go to Rome next year! Venice! It was Venice, right?” Adriel chatted happily as she waited for them to join her so they could go inside the building. “Yes, we'll be late! In a way it's better I found you… Hmmm I'd be nervous to go in alone once the class has started. Professor Oliveros can be scary when he's mad. Do you think he'll mind?” Adriel smiled shyly at Jeremy as he came along with Rishta.

“Who's your friend, Rishta?” She smiled shyly at Jeremy. “You are in our class, right?”

Jem smiled at Adriel and extended his hand out to shake hers. “Hi, my name is Jeremy Doyle. You can call me Jem if you like though. I'm Rishta's boyfriend.” Jem was getting slightly nervous that Adriel was suggesting Rishta had to go somewhere else for a visit and he quickly piped in, “I will go along. Rish, I can pay for my own ticket and expenses but I want to go with you the next time.” Jem looked at Adriel, thinking that she might of thought he was weird, he smiled again at her quickly.

Adriel smiled at Jeremy yet the boy confused her a bit. “Oh… sure you'd be welcome!”, she said despite she was not sure if he meant he'd come along if Rishta would visit her family's ancient home in Ireland, or if he'd go to Venice with Rishta. Adriel was a bit perplexed. “Oh I didn't know you have a boyfriend, Rishta!”, she said with a grin.

Alistaire growled as he flipped his cell phone closed with one hand and tucked it away into his jacket. He swerved into main traffic and dove between two cars before re-aligning himself in the proper lane. He was getting angrier by the second. Ana, who he had wanted to get back to being with, had more or less told him to buzz off for a little while longer– or at least, that was how he perceived it. It drove him nuts, and being bored in the middle of the day with nothing to do didn't help at all. He began playing with words in his head, trying to remember the university that Ana was at. “Later, eh?!” He said through his teeth. “Ah'll bloody show ye later!” He cursed to himself; he couldn't remember where it was at all, or what the name was. That didn't stop him, however. Upon just a little more traveling along the road that he thought was where the campus could be, he did spot a school– and whether Ana was actually there or not really didn't matter.

He pulled off the main road and towards the main building. The loud roar of the motorcycle engine could be heard quite a ways, and his constant shift in speed didn't help with muffling the sound at all. Alistaire barely dodged a limousine that was pulling away and cursed, yelling back at the limo driver who couldn't hear him at all, and tore onto the walking pavement. He again cursed and swerved in order to avoid running into a trio of students and he nearly skidded into a tree. Thankfully, his riding skills were a bit better than he had hoped for and avoided skidding entirely and instead swung around the front of the trio. With a jerk, he stopped and nearly flew off from his seat. With his sunglasses hanging off of his nose, blue eyes clearly visible, he looked up at the kids who were puzzled, frightened, amazed… he didn't know which. He gave them all a grin and kicked the bike into a park and stood up, albeit a bit woozy.

“Any of ye mind tellin' meh whare I am?” He asked, his Scottish accent as heavy as ever.

Rishta blinked as the motorcycle came revving up from nowhere, nearly HIT her limo, and then nearly killed them. Just that one action made her forget scolding Jem about claiming to be her boyfriend again. Honestly, one day his pranks were going to make her go crazy. She even forgot to answer Adriel, and she and Adri were great friends.

Adriel cringed as she saw the motorcycle zoom by and come to a halt at short distance from the little group with so much noise and screeching. She had the impulse to run, but some strange sense told her to hold still. The vehicle stopped. Adriel opened her innocent, big, green and gold eyes wide. “You, rude savage person!”, she said putting her hands on her hips, glaring at the newcomer. “You should learn how to drive those things before jumping on one! If you would have run me over – you'd have to pay ALL the hospital expenses!” Adriel made a pause to catch her breath.

“This is the central campus. Go park that thing out of the grass!” Adriel looked very authoritarian for a small Irish woman, but it somehow went right with her.

Alistaire could've spat at the girl's words. Didn't she understand the circumstances? He had just nearly killed himself trying to avoid smashing into them! In fact, he did spit. He looked over his shoulder and spat out a big glob of saliva and turned back to them with a lopsided grin. He took his glasses off and tucked it into his jacket pocket and took a few steps.

“Now girl, I know I'd have te pay alla'dat if I did bloody hit ye, but I didn't, did I?” He tilted his head and waved his finger around the whole time, making little punctuation-stabs in the air. “I'm not paerkin' here either, out of choice! Bloody limo gettin' in my bloody way! Nearly killed me, I tell you!” He now made had movements that re-enacted the whole near-crash that turned into a swerve. “Then ye and yer pals here were in my way, so I bloody swerved and alla' dat.” He again re-enacted with his hands, holding three fingers up to show them and his flat hand for his bike. “Luckily, my riding skills are pretty gewd, so I dodged ye. So now, here we are.” He crossed his arms and nodded. “Sorry aboot alla dat, at any rate. Where am, again? Y'know, de school. And who're ye three?”

Raphael, Jem’s “guardian” angel, was watching on top of the tree all along. He didn't like the way Alistaire acted around Adriel. He seemed cocky enough, even though it was true that he did try not to knock into the three. He stared at Alistaire coldly, thinking of ideas of what he should do to such a rude person, but changed his mind. Raphael decided it was only worth the effort if Alistaire proved to be a true threat. Jem finally noticed Raphael's presence and began to feel uneasy as he inched closer to Rishta. He frowned down at Jem but said nothing. It wasn’t the time to play tricks on the boy again, not with more than three hundred people around.

Shocked at the ill manners the stranger had displayed, Adriel was not too satisfied but the man had at least apologized. The small Irish woman furrowed a cute brow. “This is London University”, she said, hands on hips. “We're… students, you see”. She eyed him as he showed numbers with his hands as if he were a magician doing passes in the air. “You've not told us your name – if you do we might tell you ours!”

Adriel was amazed at the size of the bike, certainly bigger than hers, which resembled a stylized bicycle in comparison. Adriel had parked hers on the other side of the building – in the parking lot. “Who are you?” Adriel checked her watch and shrieked. “We're late!” She set off running for the building's entrance.

Alistaire nodded and shrugged to the little Irish girl. He understood where she was coming from, buuut… he just didn't feel all too polite right about now. Besides, sophistication and good verbiage really wasn't his sort of thing. He just said whatever was on his head, and hope it came out good enough to be understood. “London Univarsity! Thass gewd, thass gewd.. ” He said quietly enough as she gave her explanation. He grinned sheepishly when she again seemed to berate him. His tall form seem to shrink a bit as she once again carried on about his manners. He nodded and added his assent, still grinning. Wait a bloody second, why should I be so acting silly…? His ears rang and he lost his train of thought when the girl shrieked and began running.

“Wait a bloody second!! I need ye tae help me!!” He reached out a hand and began to run after her, and despite his heavy boots, kept up quite well. “And ye haven't aeven heard me name!”

Rishta wasn't prepared for Adri’s sudden explosion! That pretty calm face just blew up at the big Scottish guy, scolding him like she was his mother! Rishta wanted to laugh so badly… then Adri ran off, into the building. I think she fears the professor more than this biker-stalker dude… Then the “biker-stalker dude” took off after Adriel. Now, there was one thing Rishta would never stand for – and that was for her love ones to be injured while she could do something about it. So, as soon as he started running, Rishta did, catching up with amazing speed, thanking God she was fit.

“DON'T YOU DARE HURT ADRI!” Rishta tackled the man with untrained 'finesse' as he went through the double doors that lead to the classrooms. With a sickening thud he landed on the stone floor, with Rishta on top of him. She had totally forgotten Jem. Hopefully he would've gotten the hint and come running after her. Holding the man down, she hissed. “Who are you?” Lord, this was just like the movies!

Alistaire's chase after the girl was going well. He had jumped a low, stone wall there for design purposes and a few shrubs to keep behind her and was finally coming up on the door. He didn't know this school, and he needed a guide, more or less. Being guided by a cute little Irish girl didn't hurt, either. He was about to catch hold of her when suddenly, he heard a bark and voice so– scary, he couldn't help but spin around. He stood there with awe and a bit of fright as the girl charged at him. His right-eye twitched and his grin faltered as she bulldozed into him and sent them tearing through the double-doors into the actual school-building, both sprawling to the ground in a strange, sadistic embrace. He hit the stone floor with enough force to knock a man cold, and indeed, he wouldv'e been out like a light bulb if it hadn't of been for two things: one, he had had his share of beating when demon hunting. This was.. nearly nothing. And two, the girl was straddling his lap in order to hold him down. What better could you ask for?

“Bloody girl!” He managed to get out. Though he didn't pass out, he did lose his breath. His head thudded into the stone floor as he gave up trying to struggle; he was weak. Physically weak, at any rate. It wasn't his fault; it was a birth defect. He was weaker than the average Joe, and the only way to combat that was with his trusty sword– that he didn't have. “Ugh.. My naeme's Alistaire MacCoule.” He finally said. “And who are ye?!”

Adriel ran swiftly as if she had wings to her heels, trying to be the less late as possible to her class in Medieval Philosophy. She only noticed she was being followed by the Scott once she got into the classrooms hallway and Rishta screamed. A loud thud could be heard and Adriel looked back as she ran, bumping into Connor who was just outside her classroom door. Adriel gasped and accidentally stepped on Connor's foot as she tried to turn around and saw Rishta on top of the Scott.

“Rish… What…?! He's not done anything to me…!” Adriel blinked in frustration.

Connor had got distracted by the yelling down the hall as the strange group of visitors appeared; he recognized the baron of Cynshire from pictures on the newspapers. Connor saw that American was causing trouble again – maybe that was his normal behavior…? The Irishman gasped in surprise as Adriel unexpectedly ran into him and stepped on his foot, making him see tiny stars all around… Connor instinctively held her as she turned around so they'd not fall to the floor as well. Connor blinked as he saw Rishta had tackled someone to the ground – not like that was an unusual behavior in her… Then his mind registered Rishta had yelled something about protecting Adriel. Connor held tighter on Adriel and his eyes widened.

“Who's that guy?!”, he demanded to know.

Jem responded to Adriel's scream by turning to run into the building hurriedly. Suddenly, he heard Rishta yelling and a loud sound of the doors banging made him turn and look at what was happening. The sight of Rishta tackling Alistaire almost freaked him out as he rushed over, kicking Alistaire twice hard in the gut as he pulled away Rishta. “You… you lecher!!” Jem accused angrily as he pulled Rishta behind her, “Come on Rish!! Let's get away from this freak!” Jem cast Alistaire one last hard glare as he pulled Rishta away, running towards the class.

Rishta blinked as Jem pulled her back, and tried to drag her away. She couldn't believe what she had just done, and pointed to the jet lag for blame. It was like she couldn't even stop herself from acting the way she did… and she assumed that the combination of lack of sleep and too much caffeine that made her all hyped up and ready to kick arse. And she had taken it out on a random stranger. Well, that stranger had tried to kill her… so she wasn't too sympathetic. Shrugging Jem off, she muttered something about needing sleep, and headed out of the building, slipping out a cell phone from her pocket and calling her limo. Within minutes he had arrived, and Rishta was heading off home.

Raphael sat through the whole scene with much amusement, especially at Rishta and Jem. He didn't think Adriel or Tabris would become like this… Rishta didn't change much, he thought in amusement as he descended down on to the ground slowly. He glanced around with his hyper sense and could feel no one around before he morphed into sight as a human with a intricate looking walking stick. Something any average blind person would have. He scoffed as he put on a pair of expensive Valentino sunglasses and he made his way into the building calmly, barely resembling a blind person at all. His stick hit Alistaire hard who was still lying on the floor after Jem's cruel second attack.

“Who's blocking my way?” Raphael asked as he squat down and began feeling Alistaire all over, poking him hard with his fingers. “Oh my…” Raphael exclaimed in an exaggerated manner, “A human! A human blockage! Why are you sleeping in the school campus, young man?” Raphael slapped Alistaire's stomach with his stick as he stood up with a grin. “I can show you around the school if you like.”

The door to the Medieval Philosophy class unexpectedly opened and the professor appeared on the threshold. Beltrán glared at the noisy students in the hall – it was too bad most of them were his students, getting late for the class which was over half done… His silver eyes flashed in the shadow tossed by the massive wooden door.

“This is a University, not an arena!”, he said in a low, menacing voice. “What's all the wrestling about? You are all late and disturbing the peace!” Beltrán blinked as he saw Trevor Morris and another American hurrying to another classroom across the hall. Autumn… no doubt. The cycles had brought them together again. Belial sensed something even more strange and he recognized the soul of the one formerly known as Lorant Riktophen… which meant someone else was within Lorant! An initiate of the dark Arts was with him, which announced little good. The silver eyes shimmered strangely as he felt urged to get out of sight before any recognition would arise.

“Into the classroom!”, he ordered to the bunch of his students in the hall with a glare.

Connor cringed inwardly as indignant professor appeared in the threshold. It could be his own embarrassment and nervousness, but Connor could have sworn the air in the hall was heavy with dark vibes; like the shadow of the storm covers the sun before it starts to pour down. Connor receded towards the door still holding Adriel and practically carried her into the classroom with him.

Three men walked through the halls of the university. All of them wore clean, neatly pressed and well-cared for outfits. Each of them bore a strong family resemblance to the other two, though the ways they carried themselves were quite different. One of the three was large and exceedingly muscular, built like a bodybuilder. Another was tall and lanky and had a bit of a stooped posture. The third wore glasses and stood upright, his tall and lean frame carrying a noble air. Despite their differences, something about their presence made it clear that all three were connected in some way.

All three of them stopped in unison. Several familiar presences bombarded their infernal senses. So many minions and… so many angels. Many of them had no idea about the truth of their identities. Two stood out most prominently in their minds, though. One was immediately ahead: Belial, the Necromancer. The other…was nearby. The three thought and acted as one. The tall, noble-looking man approached the professor. The other two moved past, toward the location of Azazel…or rather, Aidan.

“It has been some time since I last saw you, Professor,” the dignified man, Marcus Caius, also known as the Demon Morbus, said to Beltran as he approached. “I trust the past years have treated you well?” His mouth quirked up in a slight, knowing smirk.

Belial's eyes shimmered with strange reflections, as if a silver and black fire danced behind his pupils. Three demons stood before him and these three he remembered well, as one of he earliest deeds of the Morning Star when the World of Man was new. Lucifer had a knack for creating and shaping things that could defy his imagination, to form strange new beings that would make the Elders' hackles rise. Alone, a lesser demon was no match for a Fallen, but in combination that could change and Lucifer had found that sickly amusing. Belial motioned imperatively to the students at the door and half-closed the door once they were inside the classroom, standing outside to deal with the three demon brothers alone.

“The face of the Earth has changed and the Skies have shifted ever since you came into being”, Belial coolly said in a low voice. “All of us have changed since you saw the light for first time. For wasn't He the Lightbearer? It's been some time, indeed. What do you seek?”

Alistaire spat hard onto the stone floor and coughed hard. This just isn't my day…, he thought sourly. First Ana, then he nearly crashed, then those kids thought him some sort of stalkers, then some girl tackles him, then some guy kicks him, now this crazy blind man decided to smack him around with a stick! Who the hell did these people take him for?! He didn't exist to be their punching bag, and he definitely wasn't going to take it! He sat up quickly and barked acidic words at the blind man. “I don't need any bloody help from some fockin' blind fewl who theenks he can just slap around any bloody thing he bloody feels like!” He snatched the blind stick to make an emphasis, and slung it down the hall with more force he thought he had. He keeled over once more and coughed; despite the beatings he was used to, he had gone through a lot in only a matter of a minute or two. His fragile body couldn't take it.

“Rrgh! THAT BOY!” He leaped to his feet and nearly exposed BOTH of his guns. “Whare's the bloody boy who thought he could keek a bloody man when he was down?! Dunnae the kid have a BLOODY SENSE OF HONOR?!” He shrieked with anger and ignored everyone around him (whomever that would be). He brushed past the blind man and took a few strides, not spotting the boy he saw earlier. He turned around and shrieked again in rage and probably made the biggest scene the school had seen in quite a bloody long time.

Adriel blinked and squirmed in protest as Connor carried her into the classroom, annoyed at the stares and random smirks from their classmates. Jeremy had managed to pull Rishta in but that guy with the Scottish accent was yelling outside in the hall at the top of his lungs for some reason – and the professor was out of the door! Adriel wriggled free from surprised Connor and squeezed out of the door, passing between the professor and his three visitors – she was short enough not to interrupt their visual line. However, she felt as if she had just walked through a cold dark corridor once she passed between them. Adriel blinked an momentaneously forgot why she had gone out. Then she heard the yelling again. Adriel was indignant. “Keep quiet you, mister Bloody!”, she exclaimed, her hands on her hips. “This is an area of silence! This is a school!” Adriel blinked as she noticed the blind man standing there.

“You could rise the dead with all that screaming!”

Raphael blinked as his stick was snatched away and thrown down the corridor. Then Alistaire started screaming like a complete loon. Silly man, Raphael thought as he walked down the corridor feeling his way about. Raphael touched Adriel's arm slightly and flushed. “Excuse me.” Raphael said with a quiet smile directed at Adriel as he squat down and picked up his stick which was lying beside her feet. Adriel! Raphael was careful not to say much. He didn't like the person near Adriel though. Mastema. Always buzzing around Adriel as usual, no matter during Angel, Fallen or even human days, Raphael mused to himself bitterly. He went down to Alistaire from the corridor and took off his sunglasses, his dark blue eyes staring into Alistaire's eyes strangely. After a while, he smacked Alistaire's legs lightly and sighed.

“Hasn't anyone taught you to show some respect for the handicapped, young man?” Raphael asked, “Besides you are being too loud, obnoxious and rude to the kids here at your first day in school.” Raphael put his sunglasses back on and turned back to Adriel, smiling at her. “Whatever. Kids nowadays.”

Adriel blinked as the blind man came by and picked up his cane at her feet. When his fingers touched her arm she felt a strange tingle, a familiarity to him as if she had known this man before. His voice enhanced this impression, but she still could not quite remember him. Adriel was confused. The sunglasses move confused her further, for his eyes were not fixed into space as those of the blind. Was he really blind? …Kids? Adriel put her hands on her hips again. “Who are you two?”, she demanded to know.

Alistaire's hands clenched tightly. And so did his eyes. And his teeth. He was gritting his teeth so tightly, you could practically hear his teeth grinding down. He took a deeeep breath…. and held it. He held it for the longest of seconds, and finally let it out. When he let it out, he was calmer. Much calmer. Or at least, much calmer than before.

“Blood and ashes…” He started. He looked at the blind man, and gave a sort of wry, apologetic smile. “Sorry.” He finally said. “Today just hasn't been my day.” He spun on his heel and quickly pocketed his hands and peered around at all of the wide-eyed stares he was getting. He barked quickly. “What're ye all bloody starin' at?! Git bock to yer studies.” He said the last part a bit gentler. He turned back to the blind man. “Again, I'm sorry. And I'm not a student here. In fact, I finished my schoolin' a few years ago. I'm now a professional– ” He was about to say 'Hunter', but that didn't sound right. “– scholar, you could say. I read the hist'ries, study stories. 've read Paradise Lost five times.”

He looked at the girl a second, hearing her question, but put his attention on the blind man. “Anyways, m'name's Alistaire MacCoule, of the MacCoule Clan of Scotland. And Ireland.” His place of birth was obvious from his thick accent. “Wot's yer name? ” He looked at the girl and poked a finger at her. “And yours, too? All I wanted was to git yer bloody name, and a hand around here…” He sighed and raised his hands and spun in a broad gesture. “And alla this happened.”

“I know that.” Raphael replied to Alistaire calmly, “I thought I might just help you around since you said you wanted someone to show you around? I believe it doesn't have to be a pretty girl doing the job, right?” With that, Raphael smiled at Adriel meaningfully again. Raphael's radar senses felt Alistaire pointing his finger about and he didn't like it, especially his tone.

“My name is Ralph…” Raphael said, more to Adriel than to anyone else, “And I'm here to…” Raphael paused. Yes, an excuse. He needed an excuse around. He sniffed the smell of Belial then. Wait… and three demons… Raphael's eyes glowed and his face twisted a little but that didn't stop him. “I'm a friend of Professor Beltran…” Raphael smiled at Belial in a weird manner as if he was playing a prank on the Fallen, “If he doesn't mind, I would like to sit through his class for a day.”

//Belial, who's the three little pigs? Are they here to mess the day? Besides Mastema, I feel a familiar person around here too… Is it 'him'?// Raphael tapped the floor with his stick twice and made his way to Belial, “May I attend your class, Professor Beltran?”

Adriel couldn't help but to giggle at the way Alistaire expressed himself, moving his hands in the air a lot and saying 'bloody' every five seconds. Well that at least when he was upset. Adriel blinked and looked at Ralph. Ralph… The name echoed in her mind but she still couldn't make out why it sounded so familiar. Strange. “My name is Adriel Oscar”, she told them with a smile, omitting the 'lady'. Then she was reminded of professor Beltrán… and class… Adriel opened her eyes wide in despair. Nothing was going to save her from the absent mark in the class roll!

//Es invierno en el Infierno, si eres mi amigo…//(1), Belial thought to himself with a frown in resentment as the blind Archangel flashed a rather menacing smile. Unwelcome in Hell, distrusted in Heaven – nothing was easy these days. He could already perceive the splitting headache he was going to get after this situation was over.

//Belial, who's the three little pigs? Are they here to mess the day? Besides Mastema, I feel a familiar person around here too… Is it 'him'?//

Belial was quite annoyed at Raphael's appearance and despite his face was serene and cold, it showed in his eyes. Morbus and his brothers had not yet answered to his question, but it was more rhetoric than anything else. What annoyed Belial the most it was the fact Raphael had exposed him – but maybe he could still get some advantage of the situation. “I don't see why not… Ralph. However, the class is almost over…” A long, clear ring echoed in the hall. “The class is over, more precisely”. He looked at Morbus, Visha and Karrion. Aidan and his group were seemingly gone. “You all are a bit late”, he softly said in sarcasm to the demons as well as to Raphael.

“Late?” Morbus echoed. The three demons sent waves of discontent between each other at the presence of the Archangel. They were extremely powerful for demons, among the first ever to come into being, but they had no desire to stand up to an Archangel.

“We are hardly 'late,'” Visha hissed.

“In fact,” the third, demon, Karrion said with his dry voice, “we're quite early.”

The three brothers smiled a little too warmly at Belial. “Of course,” Morbus said, “To one who has betrayed both Heaven and Hell, what difference does it make?”

A dangerous, soft and small smile slid on Belial's lips. “Difference…? It'd be unwise not to care”, he said. “Besides, I always keep watch on my experiments from their start to their end”. His voice hardened. “Whichever that end might be in your lord's case”. The classrooms doors opened and the students walked out of the classrooms and into the hall, chatting and forming small groups. Belial elegantly shrugged his shoulders with a smile. “Let's say my interest is merely professional. I don't expect you to understand that but there's the difference it makes for me, if you have eyes to see”.

“Your experiment?” Karrion grinned sarcastically. The three brothers moved to form a circle around Belial.

“Pardon our lack of knowledge,” Visha's hiss whispered again.

“But we have been asleep for eons,” Morbus explained.

The grins the three brothers gave would be enough to cause any normal human being to pass out on the spot from sheer horror. “What is this experiment of yours?” the three asked softly, in unison.

Raphael laughed, eyes fixing on the three demons. “Getting a bit too serious about the lesson and has gone bonkers?” Raphael teased, thinking of how to get rid of the silly demonic brothers sooner or later. “Very soon you will be telling the whole class that Lucifer is God.”

… Oops? Belial frowned. He had no desire to cause a commotion but he wasn't eager to be questioned by Lucifer's deeds. “I concede you my pardon”, he said in sarcasm. “Go and find out by yourselves; you have no excuse for this lack of information. You've indeed missed so much…”, he said as his shadow fluttered around his feet. “Have you not wondered how the Seal of the Abyss was broken? How was the Second Seal created? You are lazy, indeed”. Silver eyes shimmered. “Get out of my way”.

“We were sent to sleep to await this time,” Visha hissed. None of the brothers moved a muscle at Belial's threat.

“But,” Morbus continued, “we have no quarrel with you, Necromancer.”

“Not now,” Karrion finished.

The wicked gleam in the brothers' eyes flickered at Belial. Their sheer malevolence was almost palpable within the hall. For a second, time seemed to freeze, as if something great and terrible were about to happen. Then, without a word, the brothers broke their circle around Belial to allow him to pass.

Belial walked out of the circle of demons and watched them with a frown. If it were true they had just been awoken, how come they knew Belial had been labeled a betrayer to the Demons? These Lucifer had made shortly after the rebellion started and put to sleep to wake up once their power reached a peak. It seemed logic to guess they might not know… “You've not answered my question”, he said. “What do you seek? As I said, many things have changed. Your Master is long gone”.

“What do we seek?” Karrion grinned. All three brothers turned in unison to face Belial. It was as if they were one entity, rather than three separate beings.

“I think you know what we seek, Necromancer,” Visha's serpentine smile crept across his lips.

“Release of our Lord,” Morbus's sickening grin grew deadly.

“But what can you do?” Karrion continued.

“You cannot stop this,” Visha's eyes flickered. The wicked smile had yet to fade from any of the three faces. They showed no aggression, merely strong confidence. They hardly expected Belial to attack them here and even if they did, the three of them moved as one. Even Belial would likely find it difficult to survive against all of them.

Belial arched an eyebrow. “Are you trying to tempt me?”, he asked. “I might unmake my work. I could unmake Lucifer's toys if I wished – but I have no quarrel with you now”. A soft, arrogant smile slid on Belial's lips. Despite the exterior, inside the Necromancer was trying to get some feedback – how much did they know? If they sought the release of their Lord – implying that Lord was Azazel – did they know about the trigger of the spell? However, the souls involved had passed right before them and there had been no reaction. “For you information”, he said, “the Seal of the Abyss was broken because I designed a Ritual to break it. I took your Lord's soul and fused it to a human's so that he could enter this Plane. Unfuse the souls and he will be kicked out – and why not? It would be interesting. I am the Necromancer. How would you contribute to his release?”. Belial narrowed his eyes.

“We have our ways,” the three brothers whispered in unison, “And we will do what he commands.” They walked past Belial. “That he has not awakened yet is a good omen for us,” one of them whispered…but which one? Or did all three of them whisper part of the sentence in turn? They were one mind and virtually one body. An unholy trinity, now loosed upon the world. “We will meet again, Necromancer…”

“Indeed”, Belial muttered as the three brothers left. He went back into the classroom and picked up his belongings and the stack of papers the students had turned in. Packing them in his case, he left the classroom and headed for the Thaumaturgy class.

Raphael turned to Adriel again, his eyes looking at her, but slightly off into the space just out of her face. “Hello, Miss Oscar…” Raphael greeted as he smiles charmingly at Adriel, “Would you mind me calling you Adriel from now on…?”

Adriel was devastated by missing the class; she hoped professor Beltrán would at least allow her to turn in her homework… without taking too many points off her grade! How strange those visitors of his were! They gave Adriel a bad feeling. Alistaire was now more civilized and Ralph was… he was smiling at her; Adriel tried hard to place him among her memories, but she still could not remember if she had met him before or not. Blue eyes looked for her, but missed her face. His blindness was barely apparent, but yes he was blind. Adriel was sure he was familiar to her… but why? She looked at Alistaire, then back at Ralph with a blink. “Oh…” Adriel blushed a bit in confusion. “Have we met before? I can't quite remember…” She put her hair behind her ears. “Well… I don't see why n…”

Raphael smiled at Adriel, forgetting about Belial and the others temporary. Yet he was hesitative for telling Adriel that they have met before. That would be a little bit dangerous, especially with those demons around. Looked like he has to lie a little bit. “No, we haven't met before.” Raphael replied, trying to sound cheerful, “I don't think I will have a chance to know you before…” Raphael said, referring to his blindness, making use of his handicapped status shamelessly. “Maybe we are just destined to meet… or maybe it's just a random deja-vu.” Raphael offered with a smile, “If you like, you can just call me Ralph.”

Adriel smiled a bit in a mix of shyness and perplexity. She looked at his face intently, then looked down as her ears turned pink. “A random deja-vu…?” Adriel blinked innocently. “It'd be so curious… but I'm sure I've seen you before”. She felt the impulse to hug her bag to hide her sudden nervousness but she realized she didn't have her things with her. “I must go fetching my things before the next class starts…”

Connor opened his eyes wide at the strong malevolent current he sensed as he went back into the hallway after the bell rang and the students began to leave the classroom. He glanced about in alarm, then saw Adriel, the Scott and a blind man he strangely familiar. Despite they hadn't exchanged words, Connor thought he didn't like the blind guy a bit. He was talking to Adriel with too much familiarity to be considered polite, from Connor's point of view. The sight propelled the 'bad vibes' out of his sphere of attention. “Good morning”, he greeted, standing next to Adriel. “Adriel, I got your things; don't worry, I'll carry them for you”.

Raphael smiled at Connor, though it wasn’t considered a very friendly smile. “Nice boyfriend you have, Adriel.” Raphael remarked with a chuckle. Best if Adriel chose to say 'he's not my boyfriend'. That would teach silly Mastema to back down. Besides, he was a Fallen… Raphael scoffed slightly and said, “The lesson's over. Looks like I'm a bit late…” Raphael tapped his way to the door and peeks in. Jem spotted Raphael and almost fainted from shock, his face pale. Raphael smiled again as he turned back to Adriel. “Be seeing you, Adriel…” Raphael turned and walked away from the corridor down to the doors. He pushed the doors opened and left. When nobody was looking, he simply vanished into thin air.

Adriel blushed as Ralph said 'boyfriend'; it took her by surprise. Adriel hadn't had yet a boyfriend and the mere thought got her nervous, perhaps after all the comments she had heard from Rishta, Adriel's shyness had increased. Adriel waved a bit as Ralph left and felt immediately silly, since he well… obviously wouldn't be able to notice her gesture. Adriel was confused now. “Uh… thanks Connor”, she said after a while. “Alastaire um… needs a guide to find something on Campus”, she informed, still wondering about Ralph.

Alistaire had crossed his arms and stayed quiet through this Ralph fellow and Adriel's little engagement. He was talking to her like her knew her, and indeed he did– he was just trying to hide it. Alistaire couldn't place where the feeling came from. Maybe it was just a feeling from the way Ralph had been acting to Adriel? Bah, it didn't matter– their relationship wasn't of his concern. He shuddered, suddenly, as he felt a tang all over his skin and felt like he was being pressurized. He squeezed his arms tightly against one another and blinked when the blind man, Ralph, suddenly walked away. His eyes followed him closely and never left his back for as long as he could see him. He shook his head quickly and focused back on attention to Adriel, who was now being flanked by some fellow named Connor. Bloody hasty kids. Always think someone's out to get'm… He couldn't help but grin, though.

“Arright, now all that's over– li'l Adriel here's right. I need a guide, o'sorts. I'm not really lookin' fer anythin' in particular– not a student, or a room, or something like that. Just a someone, and I'm not all too bloody sure she's even here. I was hoping that, on the way to your next class, you'd point things out to me for future reference– that was before you took off. I still need a little help, though. I still have no flaming idea where I am.”

“Oh it'll be okay Mr. Alastaire…” She eyed him for insinuating she was small. “We could give you a small tour till our next class starts, but I need to turn in my homework before Professor Oliveros leaves…” Adriel grabbed a large leather notebook case from Connor's arms and hurriedly looked into its side pockets. Adriel gasped. “My paper!!!”

“I put it with the others when I turned in mine”, Connor quickly explained. “I hope you don't mind I looked into your things….”

Adriel blinked. “Well, thanks, Connor”. Adriel hugged her leather notebook case. “We could start by the Music Room, if you like Mr. Alastaire. I play the flute, but I'm not in the orchestra – Connor and I are members of the chorus”.

Alistaire snickered a little at the couple as they traded a few young words with one another. Heh, I guess he is 'er boyfriend. She wasn't denyin' it earlier, either. He thought and observed of the two. “The music room? I guess that's a good place to start! I dunnae play any instruments, myself. Never had the time to. I can sorta play a tune on the bag pipes, though… ye'know, somethin' we all learn from our grand da at some point or other.” He chuckled and a thought occurred to him. Hey wait… Ana plays the violin… She's good with music, too. Maybe she'll be over 'dere? “Arright, then. I guess a small tour'll do, ye'know.. if ye got the time. Oh! And please, call me Alistaire. Or Ali. Either of the two'll do it, lassie.” He gave her a wink and looked at the boy. “You call me Alistaire, though– Ali's reserved for the gals.” He gave a nice, hearty chuckle.

He began to take a few steps before suddenly stopping– he was going to get this tour kick started, but he remembered… “Er… I dunnae know which way the bloody Music Room is. Why dontcha go ahead and lead the way?”

Connor blinked at this development. He also noticed Adriel had not denied the boyfriend question and this made him both nervous and content, yet he knew Adriel probably hadn't given it any importance. Connor frowned slightly. I hope she won't start calling him Ali – how sappy. Connor again sensed the heavy, choking 'bad vibes' from the group that left to Professor Oliveros. What was going on there? He'd be glad to get Adriel away from the area. “Alistaire, then”, he said. “My name is Connor McFadden… and the Music Room is this way”. He led the way down the hall and a corridor turn. “Bagpipes! The landscape would not have the same feeling to it without them. I've learned a few tunes with bagpipes myself, but nothing too impressive”. Connor shrugged. He only had four fingers in his left hand.

Adriel smiled as the guys talked. Once they reached the Music Room's door, she leaned against it to push it open and walked inside.


(1) It's Winter in Hell if you are my friend…

By BroodingDarkness

Before the birth of man there were the angels. The purpose of the Angelic Host was to keep the balance and guide man through it’s evolution… but many did not agree. This stand became known as The Fall and those that apposed the Host were known as the Fallen.

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