Gone To Graveyards 2: Gone To Soldiers

By Prodigal


"This is exactly the sort of thing she did far too often," Jean sighed in irritation as he studied the reports spread out before him. "I am honestly surprised it took this long for it to backfire upon her the way it did. Did she actually believe what he told her?"

"Still," he continued, "We can discuss motivations another time. Ready strains 127-LQM through 127-MGX for discovery among the mortals. That should ensure that the impact of the famines that are currently developing should be properly minimised."

Jean looked up, considered the various angels attending him, and made his selection.

"You are in charge of coordinating our efforts with those of Flowers' organisation, Garneriel," he spoke at length. "As one formerly serving Creation, you should prove most capable of acting as liason. Take this report to the Angel of Harvests, and explain both what we will need from them, and what assistance we are willing to offer in return."

"I will not fail you, Sir," the seraph replied, then departed.

"He's doing what?", Vapula asked, his face half-buried in his latest research project.

"Your bumbling opponent has released five new varieties of rice, six new varieties of wheat, and two new varieties of sugarcane," Igoriel answered, raising his voice as needed to be heard over the screams the project was too inconsiderate to stop. "Our researchers have readied a preliminary report on the laboratories that are developing them among the mortals. Should we begin sabotaging their efforts, or should we begin making tailored additions to their work?"

"Neither for now, I think," the Prince of Technology replied, rising to his full height. "STOP THAT SCREAMING, or I shall have to make the next step hurt even worse," he snapped at the project, which promptly bit its lower lip and began whimpering instead.

"Much better," Vapula said to it with a smile even more chilling than its anger had been. Turning to Igoriel with a smile, Vapula continued on, saying "Open file 12AF-4444BCAE-29A, and begin the procedures outlined immediately. If that fails to succeed to our satisfaction, then we can execute our countermeasures for what the Fool is occupying himself with. But as for you," Vapula said to the project as Igoriel left to carry out his orders, "Whatever will happen if I move this over to here?"

Dominic sighed as Crater rubbed against the hem of his robes. "How did I not see this coming, Bronwyn?"

"You cannot blame yourself for what Novalis has done," the Malakite answered soothingly, "She chose to do what she did for the best of reasons, and great good may yet come of it."

"If mitigating circumstances occur I will of course be glad of it," came the soft reply, "And yet, my lack of vigilance allowed the Fall to go unchecked. A similar lack of vigilance allowed Eli to depart as he did. And yet again, for lack of proper vigilance on my part, Novalis left on a fool's errand that has cost us all dear."

"Perhaps the time is coming when I must Judge myself..."

In Shal-Mari, a tangle of Shedim writhed together under the lash of a Haballite. Nearby, two Balseraphs attempted to swallow each others' tails, producing an effect somewhere between the symbol of Infinity and the classical portrayal of Ororbouros. Five Impudites twined their vessels around each other in as artistic a fashion as they could manage.

Andrealphus pushed aside the twin Lilim who competed for whatever attention and affection they could draw from their Prince, eliciting coos of disappointment as they landed on the floor of teh chamber, rather than the bed that held its center.

"Leave," he spoke to them all in a voice dripping with boredom, "Get out of my chambers, and go amuse yourselves elsewhere." The voices of all those assembled formed a babbling chorus as all demanded to know how they had failed to please, and what could be done to make amends, only to fall silent as a single, flawless eyebrow raised in annoyance.

"I. Said. Get. Out. Of. My. Chambers," The Prince of Lust said, voice as sharp and cold as a dagger made of ice, "NOW."

Andrealphus managed to retain his stern expression until the last of his servants were gone. Once the chambers were clear, both expression and form changed, masculinity and anger bleeding away to femininity and sadness.

At first, the loss of Novalis had merely annoyed. The end of all the years of covert assistance mingled with the struggle of each to win the other over had at first been no more than the loss of an interesting diversion. But the longer that Andrealphus had gone without pitting her will against Novalis, the more its true importance became inescapable. The loss of the Archangel of Flowers had left an emptiness inside the Prince of Lust that could no longer be ignored.

Andrealphus thought for a long time, then made her decision. She dressed in something simple, yet elegant, then proceeded to a tether.

Where the pearl-grey feather she left behind after ascending to Earth came from, not even the seneschal could say.


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