By: firstname.lastname@example.org (Redneck Gaijin)
"What do you want with me, Malphas?" Kronos asked, apparently not looking up from the huge parchment book in which he wrote. The soft-spoken Balseraph wrote with a steady hand, his bold handwriting imparting added weight to the obscene squiggles of the Diabolical tongue appearing in blood-red ink beneath his quill.
"Only to talk," Malphas' ghostly presence replied, the oily fog which was the Shedite Prince of Factions wrapping around the room, then collapsing back into its most accustomed mimicry, that of a middle-aged bearded man, ripples of sickly light running through his vaguely humanoid shape. "I was wondering what Lucifer is thinking about, alone."
"I was wondering where you were when we marched across the Plain of Megiddo," Kronos replied without rancor. "I hardly expect I shall have an answer, though." He reached over to a small blotter, blotting the page and looking it over in silent satisfaction before turning it carefully over.
"Perhaps Lucifer shall betray us," Malphas smiled. "After all, each of us now poses a threat to his rule... especially yourself," he probed carefully. "After all, you are closest in power to him."
"I am not," Kronos said bluntly, dipping his pen into an inkwell and beginning a new paragraph, scribbling quietly in Hell's newest Record while Malphas watched.
"You -aren't?-" Malphas gasped. "If not you, then who?"
"Saminga," Kronos said, his hand writing on without error or blemish, each letter like the others in style and neatness. "The battle gave him much raw power, and now he is feeding on the humans much the same way the human eat candies... he is already more powerful than I, much more."
"Saminga," Malphas spat out the name. With virtually every other Demon Prince, Malphas could put on an effortless false front. Kronos saw through it, but didn't care. With Saminga, though... Malphas could not even pretend to like Saminga, and spent every minute possible out of the Prince of Death's diseased, insignificant presence. "Saminga... is stronger than -you?-"
Kronos' pen stopped for a moment. "I believe I said that, yes."
Malphas' nebulous form shivered, losing its shape for a moment before reforming. "That disturbs me very, very greatly, Kronos," he said at last. "I've felt Saminga should have been crushed for a long time now... with Heaven defeated, perhaps we should turn our-"
A siren like the screams of a billion souls rang through the bowels of Hell, shaking the cracked spires of Hades, setting the volcano of Sheol to eruption, running up and down the spines of every soul in the accursed realm. The siren sounded rarely, perhaps not more than once every two years, but when it did every Demon Prince paid attention.
Kronos and Malphas flew from the small office in the back corners of Hades into the depths of Hell, down and in through the circles, assembling at last in the uttermost depths of the realm, in the antechamber of Lucifer's throne room. Haagenti stood there already, as did Furfur, the two Calabim watching grimly as Kronos and Malphas appeared. Vapula followed a moment later, his scarred Habbalite form covered in tiny fragements of gleaming Forces, the hideous perversions left over from vivisecting a Celestial.
"Whose realm set off the alarm?" Kronos asked.
ABADDON, Haagenti growled, his drooling maw grating out each syllable. SAMINGA'S TORTURERS SAY AN ARCHANGEL CAME DOWN AND RESCUED NOVALIS.
"Novalis?" Kronos asked quietly. "Which Archangel? Did they get a look?"
NOPE, Haagenti rumbled. THE MESSENGER SAID IT WAS A GIANT SERAPH, GLOWIN' SO BRIGHT HE COULDN'T LOOK DIRECTLY AT HIM. He burped quietly, then grinned, SO I ATE HIM.
"Doubtless a reasonable thing to do," Malphas said, without the least trace of irony.
"Seraph, seraph," Kronos thought to himself very quietly. "All the Seraphim Archangels have been accounted for, have they not?"
"You'd know best, book boy," Furfur grumbled from his slouch against the chamber wall.
Before Kronos could respond to the jibe, a new creature appeared in the room. At first glance, it appeared to be the unguised Celestial form of a Balseraph, darkly glowing serpentine body, dark wings, six glowing eyes... but the form wrenched the eyes almost as bad as a Shedite, features shifting, colors flowing back and forth in hideous patterns, and the whole glowing with a power not far removed from any of the demons in the room.
"...kill them, slay them, clean the Earth, clean the WORLD, I'll slay them all, smite them down for God, oh yes..." The thing gibbered madly, spinning around in the room, looking from one Prince to the next. Finally, with a pause, it said, "I'll kill him, you know. Wipe him away. Expunge him from all existence. I'll do it, yes, yes."
Kronos looked very calmly at the mad Balseraph and asked, "Kill who?"
The Balseraph looked back and said, "Lucifer. Our Enemy. He's betrayed us, they've all betrayed us, they're consorting with him now, turning their back on God, oh yes, yes, he's Up There now, corrupting them all, tainting them, now they'll all have to die, oh yes, die and be ripped apart by the winds of righteousness, oh yes, God wants it, God told me to keep Creation loyal, he told me himself, he said, 'Dominic, this is a heavy responsibility,' and I said-"
"So, you are Dominic?" Vapula asked, smiling his happy smile of discovery. "Would you mind if I had a closer look?"
The Balseraph Dominic hissed, drawing back from Vapula, the dark shades flittering across his body brighting to gory oranges and reds. "BACK! I'LL KILL YOU!" it shrieked. "Kill you, kill you all, you're all unworthy, undeserving of God's mercy, only I, Dominic, Archangel of Cleansing, only I am worthy, I am God's instrument, God's Hand on the Earth, striking down, strike strike strike!!!" The Balseraph spun around and around, crying louder and louder, "STRIKE! STRIKE THEM DOWN! CLEANSE THE WORLD, FOR YOU, MASTER, YOUR LOYAL SERVANT AWAITS!!" Through the walls it fled, back up to the higher levels of Hell, leaving the Demon Princes staring after it, confused.
"Well, that was entertaining," Malphas said, this time with very heavy sarcasm.
"Dominic has Fallen, hm?" Vapula smiled. "I'd love to have him down to Tartarus for a while..."
AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO HEARD THAT BIT ABOUT LUCIFER? Haagenti snarled. YOU KNOW, THE BIT WHERE HE'S GONE UP ABOVE... WITH THE ARCHANGELS?
One by one, the Demon Princes looked at each other, each realizing the truth behind Dominic's rantings. Almost at once, they rushed through the great doors into the very Heart of Hell...
... and there, on the throne where Lucifer had so many times pronounced sentence, sat a small, rotting shell of decay and gore, now humanoid, now totally alien, now something in between. Saminga looked up and said, "May I help you?"
"Where is Lucifer?" Kronos asked bluntly.
Saminga shrugged, grinning with a lipless smile. "Lucifer's unimportant. He always has been. I'm in charge now."
Malphas struggled to hold his tongue, the effort sending his form into a dark, amorphous stormcloud of lights. Finally, he grated out, "Are you aware that Novalis, Dominic, and who knows what other Angels have been released?"
Saminga shrugged. "They can't run. I'm everywhere now. Death is everywhere." He turned a rotted eyeball distractedly towards them, the other staring glassily off at nothing. "Don't you have anything important to tell me?"
Each looked at the others, shifting their feet. Finally Kronos spoke for them all: "My Lord, why do you sit on the seat Lucifer formerly occupied?"
Saminga grinned. "Because it's mine. I just let Lucifer use it while I had other things to do." His decayed grimace mocked the others as his eyes rolled around in his head. "I've got some free time now."
Each looked to the others, just waiting for someone to make a move.
Saminga leaned back in the Granite Throne, sighing a bubbling sigh. "Well, if I'm not needed, I'll check on my realm." He stood up from the seat, looking around. "Make sure nobody takes my chair, won't you?" With that single order, Saminga vanished.
Haagenti looked around at the stunned Princes. WE'RE IN TROUBLE, AREN'T WE?
"Deep trouble," Malphas replied. "Very deep."
"Eeeh, trouble shmouble," Vapula shrugged. "That cretin can have the throne, if he wants it... and if Lucifer has turned traitor, where's he going to run?" He grinned merrily. "In the meantime, I have an experiment to get back to...." He trotted out the door happily, already cackling as fresh ideas came to mind.
Haagenti and Furfur shrugged and ambled off as well, leaving Malphas and Kronos at the foot of the Granite Throne, looking at each other.
"Do you think Lucifer actually Redeemed?" Malphas asked quietly.
Kronos nodded, very very slowly. After a long pause, he said, "It never would have worked, you know."
Malphas blinked. "What would never have worked?"
Kronos looked impassively at the Prince of Factions. "I would never have taken on Lucifer. I was totally loyal to him. I still am, really."
"Why don't you follow Lucifer, then, O Loyal One?" Malphas mocked.
"I cannot," Kronos sighed, and he sat on the rock floor in front of the empty Granite Throne, looking up at the Shedite with an expression of helpless, quiet despair. "I have known ever since I Fell... I shall spend the rest of my existence in Hell." He looked off into space, whispering, "It is my Fate," and said no more.
Malphas looked quietly at the doomsman of Hell for a long, long while before he turned away from him and walked out the doors.
He had a lot of work to do, and he had to get his Servitors to work finding out just where everything stood...
...and where everyONE stood.
It doesn't do for the Demon Prince of Factions to not know who the factions are.
Kris Overstreet, will write for food... | Do not taunt Happy Fun Belial. http://www.txdirect.net/users/redneck | * * * c/o White Lightning Productions | "I love the sweet smell of http://www.jurai.net/~redneck/wlp/ | humiliation in the morning!" Webmaster for Antarctic Press | --- Kobal reaffirms himself http://www.antarctic-press.com/ | ***QUESTION EVERYTHING***
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