Michael had had enough of his "ally" complaining. With a swift backhand, he
sent Saminga flying across the room, to crash into the stone wall of the
catacombs. As Death rose to his feet, opening a rotting mouth to protest,
"I am War. The conduct of this campaign is mine. When the corpses are piled high, you will be in control, and choose how to use to use them - barring the one I am promised. Until then you will obey me - as you swore to do a year ago. Or will you pit your strength against mine?"
Michael strode into the centre of the room, and gazed down on the Shedite. Saminga had chosen a giant of a corpse to inhabit, thinking that being able to loom above Michael would give him an advantage during their frequent arguments. This might have worked, if Saminga had ever been on his feet. As it was...
'Your plan makes no sense. It is incredibly simple - too simple! She will easily guess what we are doing. And you obsess over thousands of details and trivialities. Why?'
"My plan is simple because simple plans work. The more complicated a plan is, the more things can go wrong. As for the details - I expect things to go wrong, so I have planned for every possibility. Do you truly believe that we can kill a Demon Princess so easily? Yes, I know most of her defences - but I cannot guess all of them. We must be prepared."
Saminga raised himself to his feet, and posed dramatically. 'All things must die - she should have died over twenty millennia ago! She is doomed, and her Doom will take her. Nothing can stop us!'
"Nothing can stop me, traitor, remember that. I have proven myself against every foe of Heaven. I proved myself against you, keeping our challenge secret, as agreed, over a year ago - and remember that this is the payment you owe me. If you follow my plan, we will kill her, and your Word will be feared in Hell; I have no need for this battle trophy, and it pleases me for you to have the credit for her death. Do you understand?"
'I do. To ensure her death, anything is worthwhile, even humbling myself to a mere Archangel. I will follow your plan.'
Saminga's eyes lit up 'I will craft a zombi, welding together the Forces of half a score of traitors, each a Shedite who I granted the ability to inhabit a corpse. Their agonised screams will herald the creation of a new monster who will begin the...'
"So long as I can Possess the corpse with a Song, I will be pleased with it. What then?"
Saminga began to sulk; he hated having his rants interrupted. 'My minions will assault her Tethers, aided covertly by your Servitors. I will raise the dead to hold the Tethers. No matter how many of her allies she calls on, we will hold them for eternity!'
"We will hold most of them, for as long as they are useful. And then?"
'She will be Invoked by her Seneschals. I will challenge her, claiming that I have unravelled her plot to destroy me; have learnt that her Daughters refuse to serve me for fear of punishment should her plan succeed.'
"Good. And then?"
'I will challenge her. If she accepts..'
"She will not, but no matter, it is good to be prepared..."
'...then I will destroy her! If she refuses, I will demand a trial by combat to resolve the matter; because she will not face me, being merely mortal and no match for Death, I will announce that I have crafted a mighty zombi which is a match for any mere human. You will be inhabiting the zombi, and will absolutely defeat her!'
'Then I will triumph, and Death will be supreme.'
"Before that - what are the conditions of the duel?"
'She must accept that should she die, all of her Free Lilim must Bind themselves to me, and her body must be mine to zombify. Further, she accepts that this combat proves that she was plotting against me, and must accept Asmodeus' sentence on her.'
"Very good. And what will you sweeten the deal with?"
'Should my zombi fail, then every one of my Servitors will owe her a life-Geas.' He sulked a little at that.
Michael nodded. "Remember, we will win. She will not get the Geases. Further, you can bid higher if need be - just ensure that she accepts the challenge. And my fee for aiding you is?"
Saminga's eyes lit up. 'I will raise Lilith's body as a zombi, and she will be yours, as agreed - your title of mightiest of killers will be confirmed by my gift.'
The Seraph could not even bring himself to nod; supporting Saminga's delusion was too close to lying. Merely listening to the raving was jarring.
"Lilith's zombi will be mine, yes. And her Lilim will be yours. My plan is sound - Lilith cannot afford to let one of her underlings fight the battle; too much rides on it. And Asmodeus will ensure that the challenge is accepted, lured by the Binding of the Free Lilim. Other things could go wrong, but have been dealt with. We can begin."
Saminga laughed, his maniacal, diabolical laugh. Then he vanished, to work his necromantic rituals on his unfortunate renegades. Michael sighed. The things he did to defeat Hell. But it was worth it - Lilith's zombi would be able to reveal all of her plots, list everyone who she had Geases on, teach her Secret Songs, and more. She - it - might even be able to provide the proof of collaboration between Asmodeus and Dominic which he was searching for. Meanwhile, the Free Lilim would go renegade in large numbers rather than serve Saminga - at least some of them would decide to seek Redemption, if only for the chance to avenge their Mother. Would Asmodeus soul-kill her, he wondered. Perhaps. Probably not, though - she held to many Geases on angels for him to be so wasteful. Still...
Musing on the possibilities the future held, he also left the tombs.
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