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    Part Three

    “War Is An Orgy of Disorder”


Southern England

Stonehenge


Lucifer Speaks…

    I’ve had just about enough of this waiting bullshit.  I’m not known for my patience, and at my wits end. Every moment we wait, Daniel suffers, and part of me dies.  The only thing keeping me from going insane is the knowledge that he still lives.  I’d know the second he died, and the second after I’d join him, by my own hand.

    Michael sent out the Call hours ago, and we’re still missing three:  Gabriel the Messenger (he had the onerous job of trying to collect everyone, a task akin to herding a bunch of wet cats into a bag), Metatron (he’s sort of the Boss Archangel, and he likes to make a grand entrance just to show us up), and lastly, Fucking Uriel.  

    Now before I continue, I’d like to take a moment to discuss Fucking Uriel. Let me tell you, my lovelies, I hate Fucking Uriel - and the feeling is entirely mutual.  Fucking Uriel is the Archangel of Repentance, but trust me, he is a heartless, violent lunatic, a complete bag of shit who takes great pleasure in tormenting other beings, Mortals in particular.  He’s not the “Repent and ye shall be saved” type.  He’s the “Repent, motherfucker, or I’ll kill you and eat you” type.  He’s an absolute horror-show.  The Jeffrey Dahmer of the Angelic Order.

    I have no doubt the Fucking Uriel is behind all this, that he’s the one who betrayed Daniel.  Michael agrees.  I swear, when all this is over, and Daniel is safe again, I’ll slice Fucking Uriel from his ugly, shit-eating face to his precious blackened bunghole and then vaporize the remains.  I might even resurrect him and do it all over again, depending on time restrictions; I’m a very busy man, you know. But there’s a reckoning coming.  It’s going to happen.  Just wait for it.

    I look around the field near Stonehenge and I see my Brothers gathered there.  Many I haven’t seen in centuries.  There’s Azrael’s crew of Death-Angels, as well as Raphael's fellow Weavers.  Present, too, are Michael's fierce Warriors. It makes me feel better, seeing those fearsome Immortals, my Brothers, standing ready.  They didn’t have to come - none of them did - but here they are.  

    I join Michael, nodding to the others.  “Thank you, all of you, for being here.”

    Ariel shrugs.  He’s a mountain of an Archangel, decked out in full Celestial armor, his two mighty swords strapped to his hips. “Of course we’re here.  There’s a battle to be won, a world to be saved, and your Daniel to rescue.  Wouldn’t miss it for the world, Luc.”  He flashes me a big, broad smile, then gives my shoulder a quick squeeze.  With that, the residual tension evaporates, and it’s as if I’d never Fallen.  I find myself blinking back tears.  Their acceptance means more to me than I’d been willing to admit.

    “Michael says you think that Uriel’s behind this,” Camael grumbles.  I hold up my hand.

    “Fucking Uriel, please,” I correct.

    Camael actually smiles, a rare event, and it pleases me that he does.  He’s the smallest of the Warrior Angels, lean and dark and oh-so-serious, but without a doubt the bravest, the first to rush headlong into danger. He wears only the barest of armor, because his greatest gift is his speed, and he prefers not to be encumbered by the weight.  His chosen weapons are the spear and short sword, and he is positively lethal with them; to watch him fight is like watching a beautiful, deadly ballet dancer.  I like him immensely, despite his broody temperament.

    “Yes I do, Camael, and I think you all know why.  Fucking Uriel is a complete bastard, a rabid dog that should’ve been sent to me to dispose of long ago,” I answer, my voice hoarse from anger. “I wouldn’t put it past him to bring the Dominion here, just for the shits and giggles. And someone had to give the them Daniel’s Name; who else would be such an asshole?  Goddamn that miserable little shit, really.

    No one speaks for a moment. If they’re surprised by my vitriol, they hide it well.  And then, all to a one, they murmur their agreement. Camael, in particular, sees Fucking Uriel for who he is, and always has.  I breathe a sigh of relief; I know I’m going to need some serious muscle to back me up when Fucking Uriel arrives, just in case things go south.  Because I have a plan, and I will act upon it the second he appears.

    There is a sound of thunder.  “Speak of the Devil,” Raguel says, then quickly, to me: “Sorry, no offense.”

    I can’t help but laugh.  “None taken.”  I look up to the sky to see our latecomers arrive: Metatron, is a giant of an Archangel, about ten feet tall and positively dripping in silver armor.  It strikes me as a tad gauche, but who am I to judge?  With him is handsome Gabriel, looking positively pissed off (and one cannot blame him, considering the whole wrangling cats thing).  Lastly, it’s Fucking Uriel, that goat-shagging shit-spawn.  

    As soon as Fucking Uriel’s feet touch the grass, our eyes lock.  He grins slyly, knowingly, and nods his head in my direction. It’s a both a challenge and an acknowledgement.  He has just all but told me that he is guilty, and not one bit sorry for it.  I can smell the pride on him. That whoreson did it, and he WANTS me to know it, he HURT my Daniel, and he’s LAUGHING at me, and…

    And I charge.  No warning, no sound, silent fury headed at him so fast I am nothing but a blur of black.  I have no weapon.  I am going to do this my way.  Before Fucking Uriel even has time to think, I am on top of him, my hands around his throat, and he looks absolutely scared shitless.

    Lucifer, I…” Fucking Uriel gasps, trying to twist free of my grasp.  His beady little eyes are bugging out in the most obscenely funny way.

    “FUCKINGURIELGOTOHELLANDSTAYTHERE!”

    <CrackleSIZZLEpop!>

    And just like that, Fucking Uriel is gone. Score one for me.  I’m rather shocked that I managed to get the jump on him; he’s a slippery little bastard.

    “Holy…” Gabriel whispers.

    “Shit,” Michael finishes for him.  Then he grins. “Not a fun ride, that.”

    I throw Michael a quick smile, hold up my finger - be right back - then pop off to Hell.  I put Samael, that monstrous Daemon, in charge of Fucking Uriel.  Oh, what sweet revenge. Samael used to be an Angel, until Fucking Uriel threw him under the Celestial Bus, and the poor guy got kicked down to Hell with me.  Samael has been waiting a long time to get his hands on Fucking Uriel.  It’s the least I can do.  My only warning was that he not kill Fucking Uriel. And no hate-fucking Fucking Uriel either; I don’t approve of that, even if it is Fucking Uriel.

    That done, I return to the field.  I am a little concerned with what Metatron will say, but really, fuck him if he doesn’t like it.  What’s he going to do?  Toss me out of Heaven?  

    “Well, that was...unexpected,” Metatron rumbles, looking down at me, his giant fists on his hips.  Hells Bells, I forgot how HUGE he is.

    “Fucking Uriel is behind all this.  He did it to get to me.  And Daniel…” I stop, have to catch myself before angry tears come.  “He betrayed Daniel to the Dominion, and now they have him.  Daniel is suffering for us. Every minute we delay, the closer he gets to either opening the Great Seal, or dying.  Tell me I’m wrong about Fucking Uriel, Brother, and you may all leave.  I’ll save Daniel myself.  But I won’t release Fucking Uriel from Hell.  Ever.”

    Metatron shrugs lazily.  “You’re not wrong, Lucifer, and you’re not alone in this.  Uriel is a fool, and he’s finally reaping what he’s sown.  Too bad we have to clean up his mess.”

    One by one, the others chime in.

    Gabriel:  “We should have gotten rid of Fucking Uriel a long time ago. He’s a threat to all Mortals.”

    Metatron:  “You’re just saying that, Gabriel, because you’re shagging that beautiful Mortal woman, and Fucking Uriel tried to cock-block you.”

    Gabriel (again):  “Don’t be crude.  Besides, it’s not like I’m some Watcher...I mean, that’s sort of creepy, just watching Mortals.”

    Azrael:  “I’ve wanted to send Fucking Uriel to Hell for ages.  You could’ve let me in on it, Luc, you one-way bastard.”

    Ramiel:  “He’s right, Luc.  I wouldn’t mind five minutes alone with Fucking Uriel.  I’d resurrect that asshole right into the sun.”

    Michael:  “I told you so.  Fucking Uriel.”

    Raphael:  “He smelled awful.  Did anyone notice that?”

    Adriel:  “Fuck Fucking Uriel.  Let’s go kill us some Domini.”

    Raguel:  “But is it lawful, sending Fucking Uriel to Hell?”

    Cassiel:  “Shut up, Rag. This isn’t the time to debate the law; what’s wrong with you? Even you hate Fucking Uriel, you told me so yourself.”

    Sariel: “‘Fucking Uriel’...heh, now we’re all saying it.  I wonder if he knows? I hope he does.”

    Ariel:  “Look, I’m sweating my gigantic balls off in this armor, can we get moving along here, people?”

    Dumah:  (grunts and nods at Ariel)

    Zadkiel:  “Damn, Dumah, do you ever shut up?”

    Jehoel:  “I knew all along that Fucking Uriel would pull a stunt like this.”

    Kushiel:  “You’re such an arse-licker, Jehoel.  God’s Teeth…”

    Camael:  “Why are we even discussing this? What’s done is done, Fucking Uriel is exactly where he needs to be, and if we don’t get off our asses soon, there isn’t going to be a world to save.”

    Maalik:  “Hellfire, let’s do this.”

    I sigh heavily.  “Please, Brothers, I think it’s been well-established that Fucking Uriel is behind this, but we have more pressing needs to address.  Shall we?”

    Harut throws his hands up and sets off a small thunderbolt to get everyone’s attention.   “Gather ‘round, Allfolk.  Time to kick some ass.”

    I whistle low, relieved.  With everyone on board, I know that Operation Save Daniel and the Entire Universe is finally a GO.  But, before we can ready ourselves for the journey, yet another interruption.  This time by someone I least expected to see.

    “LUCIFER.”

    Oh shit.

    I cringe noticeably.  Beside me, Michael tenses, his hand on his sword. It’s Satan, and Hell has come with him.  Behind him, I see at least a hundred of Hell’s fiercest Daemons. We might just be fucked sideways if I can’t calm ole Scratch down.

    “Hey, Boss.” I smile and wave at him, try to look casual, and, I hope, innocent of whatever it is he’s clearly pissed off about.  Satan never travels outside Hell unless it’s a certified emergency.

    “WHY IS FUCKING URIEL SHITTING UP HELL?”

    Now understand, in his pissed-off state, Satan is gigantic.  Three times the size of Metatron, and ten times scarier.  Big, red, muscle-bound, giant horns, breathing fire, stinking of brimstone.  All the expected cliches.  But it works.  

    “Because Fucking Uriel betrayed us all to the Dominion, they’ve taken Daniel who is the Key, and if we don’t get him back, they’ll come through the Void, and then we’re all fucked, including you, Boss.”

    Satan scowls, looks at the much smaller assemblage of Angels. And then he laughs.  “So, Lucifer, you and your little band of wing-boys are going to take on the entire Dominion by yourselves? Brave, yes.  But not very practical.”  He shakes his head.  “Good thing I brought some back-up for you, kiddo.”

    I look at him in amazement.  Never thought I’d see the day that Hell and Heaven fought together.  

    Michael grunts.  “Welcome to the party, Satan,” Michael says, then flashes him a big grin.

    I breathe another sigh of relief, and thank God that Michael is not all brawn no brains, like some of our compatriots - I’m looking at you,  Adriel, you big dumb behometh, you.  

    Satan ducks his head down to mine.  “So, Lucifer, I ask you: Where is your GOD, now?”

    I startle at his words.  “Now is not the time to discuss theology…”

    Satan laughs.  “Lighten up, boy, it was a joke.”

    “Don’t quit your day job, Boss.”

    “I thought it was funny,” Satan counters.

    “So did I, actually,” Michael admits.

    I can't help but sigh with relief.  “Thanks, Boss."

    He shrugs his huge shoulders. “I figure I owed you one for not incinerating my idiot son.”

    I wave my hand at him:  No big deal.  “We should get going,” I say, putting the kibosh on Comedy Hour.  “I’ve got a pretty big Spell heading the Dominion’s way.  We probably want to get in and out of there before it hits.”

    “How big is it?” Sariel asks.  He’s a Weaver, too.

    “Extinction Level,” Michael answers for me.  “Pointed right at Wormwood.  Probably blow the entire solar system up.”

    “Damn,” Harut mutters.  “Time to go.” He is the Otherkey, and he begins to Weave, drawing down all the power he can.  “Hold on, now...this is going to be a helluva ride.”

    Everyone gathers together in a tight formation, the Warrior Angels forming the tip of the spear, Satan’s Minions guarding the back, Weavers and Healers in the middle.  I stand beside Michael.  We’ll fight side by side, as we did long ago.  

    “Once again, Brother, into the fray,” Michael whispers to me.

    I nod, then raise my sword for the charge.  “HEAVEN AND HELL, TO ME!”

    We are coming, Eroddwyn, please hear me, my love. Be brave.


Daniel Speaks…

    I hear Lucifer. He is coming for me.  I want to cry and sing and laugh all at once. I look at I’xi’i and whisper to him: <Heaven and Hell are coming, my friend.>

    He looks at me, startled, and a little afraid.  The Warder has not yet returned, but he knows she may at any moment.  <What?  When?>

    <Soon,> is all I can tell him.  <Go fetch Leannan.  NOW. I will keep the Warder occupied if she returns before you.  Please, trust me on this.  Get her now and bring her back here if you value her life.>

    I’xi’i jumps and runs from my cell.  A wave of relief washes over my tired body.  I count the minutes until he finally returns with her, and hides her in the corner, under some old blankets.  Just in time, too, for the Warder is only moments behind him.

    “Well, Eroddwyn, are you ready to Sing for me?  Because my patience is at an end.  There is the Other I can call. You know him, I believe?  Patricaen?”

    Damn her, she knows Harut’s Name.  I try not to show my fear, but I’m so tired, and if Lucifer doesn’t come soon, I’m afraid I will fail them all.  Please Lucifer, HURRY!

    Then, like a song in my ear:  I hear you, Daniel.  I’m almost there.

    I concentrate:  They know Harut’s Name.  I’m going to to die now, I think.  Guard Harut with your lives, or all is lost.  I love you, Tiamadaeo.

    The Warder cocks her head to one side, a confused look on her face.  “Why you smiling, Eroddwyn?”

    YOU WILL NOT DIE WE ARE ALL HERE ERODDWYN!!! I AM COMING FOR YOU!!!!

    “Because, you awful beast, you’re about to die.”

    “What? How dare you speak to me like that!”  She grabs the whip and raises her arm to strike me. I close my eyes and wait for the pain.

    “I don’t think so, you bitch.”

    The Warder whirls around to face the beautiful monster that is Lucifer Morningstar, in all his frightful glory. Lucifer grabs her hand and pulls her close to him. He tears away her cowl, revealing a face twisted by hate and time.

    Miss me, darling?” he hisses.  He looks up at me, and I see the pain and anger in his eyes, seeing me chained up.  I can’t help but weep, not for myself, but that he must see me so.

    He screams his rage, and takes hold of her face in his hands. Opens his mouth wide and begins to consume her.   It’s horrible to watch, this torturous death, but I do. I revel in her screams. I want to see her obliterated. Not dead.  GONE.  I’ve never known this feeling before...I believe it is hate. I do not like it.

    I’xi’i is frozen with fear.  When the Warder is reduced to ash, Lucifer turns on him with a feral growl.  “No!  Lucifer, do not harm him!  He has helped me!”

    Lucifer stops, looks at me, and for a moment I see the Beast in his coal-black eyes.  It passes quickly.  “Oh, Daniel…”

    I’xi’i goes to Leannan, and covers her with his body.  They cower in the corner, both terrified, watching while Lucifer frees me from my bonds and wraps me in his cloak.  I fall into his arms, weeping.  He kisses my face, and I feel his tears on my neck.

    “I’m sorry, my love, so sorry…” he whispers to me.  Then, he draws himself back up to his full height and looks at I’xi’i. “Come with us if you want to live.  This place is about to be completely destroyed.”

    “What?” I’xi’i gapes.  “There are thousands of innocent captives here!  You cannot harm them, please!”

    “Calm down,” Lucifer snaps.  “We’re taking all the inmates with us. We’ll sort the wheat from the chaff when we get home.  Now stop dallying, please, and follow me.” With that, my lover whirls around, me held tight in his arms, and storms out of the cell.  I’xi’i, with Leannan bundled close to him, follows behind us.

    We make it to the inner bailey of the prison, where the battle still rages.  I’m stunned to see Daemons fighting beside Angels, thousands of dead Domini at their feet. It’s a slaughter of biblical proportions; the Dominion warriors and their Wraiths  never stood a chance.  

    In the very thick of it is Satan, back to back with Metatron.  They both appear to be enjoying themselves. I can hear Satan roaring with laughter. I cannot help but laugh myself at the bizarre scene.  It must sound strange to Lucifer, my apparent joy at the chaos, and he looks at me with concern.  

    “Daniel?” He presses his lips to my forehead, then frowns.  “You’re burning up.  Hold on tight to me, love, I’ll get you to Raphael.”

    Unfortunately for us, the way is blocked by a phalanx of Wraiths, more than a hundred of them at least. And every last one of them is there to stop us.

    “Fuck,” Lucifer hisses as the Wraiths advance on us.  He pulls me closer into his arms, trying to cover as much of me with his own body.  He knows we’re trapped, and with him burdened by me, and I’xi’i without a weapon, we need help, fast.  He calls out:  

    “MICHAEL!”

    Michael, engaged with a dozen Wraiths, his armor covered in the green-black blood of his enemies, sees us, and shouts to Camael.  

    “TO LUCIFER!”  Camael cries, acknowledging the order.  The swift and fierce Angel leaps over the carnage with a hauntingly beautiful grace, lands in front of us and immediately kills several Wraiths within seconds. Right behind him is fearsome Kushiel, with Sariel and Jehoel.  Sariel throws up a Protection Circle around us, and Kushiel, howling like a madman, mows down Wraiths like a reaper sowing his field.  Calmly, Jehoel blasts the remaining Wraiths that have us pinned in with Godfire, dozens of them at a time. I find myself thinking Oh that’s a horrible smell...


Lucifer Speaks...

    “Eroddwyn???”  I look down at Daniel, lying motionless and pale on the green grass of Stonehenge.  We’ve just come through the Gate, and I scan the masses for Raphael.  I don’t see him, and in my panic, I kneel down beside my beautiful lover and pull him into my arms.  He’s not breathing.

    “RAPHAEL HELP US!”

    And then, like a miracle, Raphael is beside me, gently pulling Daniel from my arms.  I try to speak to him, but he hushes me and concentrates on Daniel, his hands cupping his white, lifeless face. I stand, spread my arms wide, tilt my face to the sky, and pray:

    O Mighty Lord please don’t take him I swear I won’t ask anything of You ever again I repent I’m sorry forgive me my disobedience destroy me if You must but please spare Daniel grant me this one wish O Lord I beg Thee…

    I wait.  And wait. I strain to hear Daniel’s heartbeat, but can only hear my own, pounding with dread.  It begins to rain, and I cover my dying lover and his savior with my wings.  Raphael continues to work his magic on Daniel, who remains still as death.  There’s no reply to my prayer. It’s like a knife through my heart.  “Fuck you, then,” I mutter.  I fiddle with the dagger in my belt. Time passes, every minute a lifetime...and then...can it be…?

    Raphael glances up at me briefly, a little smile on his face. He looks exhausted, but happy.  “Luc.”

    “What?” I’m afraid to hope, afraid to breathe.  

    Tia...ma...daeo?”  

    Daniel’s sweet voice.  I drop to my knees beside him and pull him to me, cover him with kisses and tears.

    “Easy now, Luc...I just fixed him.  Don’t break the poor boy,” Raphael teases. He bends his head to mine and whispers: “I’ve healed his body; you’ll have to heal his soul.  Love him always, and you’ll heal each other.”

    I lean towards Raphael and kiss him hard on the lips. “I love you, Shohann.”

    Raphael blushes hotly, both at the kiss and the familiar use of his Name, and gives an odd little laugh.  “Oh, yes, well, I...I must go. Others are hurt.” Then he bounces away like I’d just bitten him on the ass.  

    Satan approaches, almost tentatively; he’s even taken on a glamour so that he presents with a much smaller, less Devil-y appearance.  It’s a nice look for him, actually.  Quite sophisticated.

    “How’s the lad?”  Satan asks, an odd look in his eyes.

    “He’ll live, but he’s going to need me, Boss.  He needs time to…”

    Satan holds up his hand.  “Don’t beg, it’s beneath you.  Take all the time you want; take centuries, I don’t care.  You’ve earned it.”

    I’m stunned.  I stumble over a reply. Finally, I tell him:  “You really are a big pussy, you know that?  But...thanks, Boss. Really.”

    Satan laughs.  “Keeping you on speed-dial for emergencies.  So don’t think I won’t be calling you from time to time, kiddo.” He touches my shoulder, then, just like that, he and his Daemons are gone back to Hell.

    Daniel makes a little noise, and his eyes flutter open.  “You came for me,” he whispers.

    I seize him to me, hold him close, press kisses to his face, his lips, his ears, his chest, his shoulders and arms, everywhere I can. “Did you think I wouldn’t?  I moved Heaven and Hell to get you back.”

    Daniel smiles.  My heart simply aches for the love of him.  Lord, he’s so beautiful.  

    “I never doubted you,”  Daniel whispers.  He holds tight to me as I lift him into my arms.  

    “Let’s go home, Eroddwyn.”





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Part Two

“On The Other Side Of Nowhere…”


The Dominion Throneworld

On the Prison Moon Zi’ix


    Daniel woke with a scream. He couldn’t move, could barely see in the low amber light. He was in a small cell, its walls made of iron and rust-colored stone that glistened with an oily sheen. It was cold and damp, and Daniel’s nude body shivered uncontrollably. He was shackled in heavy irons, suspended painfully by his wrists from the ceiling, his feet not quite touching the ground.

    The Wraiths had come for him in the early morning hours as he lay half-awake, shattering his drowsy reverie. It had been sudden, the only warning a quick flash of red as a portal opened into the large suite, spilling out a half-dozen Wraiths, the elite soldiers of the Dominion. Humanoid creatures, bred for war, it was all they knew. They were rail-thin and tall, terrifying to behold in their blood-red tunics. They had no discernible facial features, save for their white, staring eyes and giant yawning mouths filled with row upon row of razor-sharp teeth. They carried only one archaic-looking weapon, like the crooks shepherds use to control their flocks.  The Wraiths wielded them like staffs, seizing their prey as they fled, using the crook to snare them by the neck and yank them off their feet. It was a brutally simple weapon.

    Daniel refused to give up without a fight. And fight he did, not just for himself, but for Lucifer, too. He understood all too well what was at stake. Lucifer, by far the more powerful of the two, lay still and quiet on the bed, not moving, an easy target, helpless to defend himself. He looked dead, but Daniel knew better; Lucifer was spancelled, in the thrall of a powerful sleeping spell. Still, though, it was not quite powerful enough to keep Lucifer from hearing what was going on around him, though in his spell-addled brain, he thought he was having a nightmare. Finally, knowing that he couldn’t escape, that the Wraiths would succeed in dragging him into their Portal, Daniel called out to his lover in despair:

    “Lucifer! Wake up, Lucifer!  Please help me, please wake up! Don’t let them take me!”

    Lucifer’s eyes opened, and for a moment, he seemed to look through Daniel.  To Daniel’s sorrow, his cries went unheeded. The spell that had been cast over Lucifer was a powerful one, and not even Daniel’s pleas were enough to wake him. Lucifer slept on, unaware that his premonition had come true.

    Still, Daniel fought bravely, but in the end, they had simply overwhelmed him with their numbers. In one last, desperate bid, Daniel began to sing, Weaving an ancient and powerful incantation, a Song meant to wake the ensorcelled. It would have worked, if only Daniel had had enough time. Before he could finish the Song, one of the Wraiths had shoved an obsidian gag in his mouth, silencing him. Two others held him still while the rest of them moved quickly to bind him in Soulchains. They were wrapped several times around Daniel’s body, pinning his arms and wings to his body. Daniel struggled wildly, in a blind panic; he’d never been bound before, fettered in any way. Worse, the magic in those chains was sapping both his Angelic power and his physical strength. Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the fight was over. Daniel went limp, his mind spiralling away into unconsciousness.

    While Lucifer slept fitfully, his beloved Eroddwyn was spirited away to Jahannam, the throneworld of the Dominion, a solar system ruled by an angry red Sun. The Domini Vox worshipped it as a living deity, that giant star they called Wormwood.

    Daniel was not alone for long in that dimly-lit cell. Early on that first day of his captivity, he was visited by a Domini and her brooding Sergeant-at-Arms. She was Chief Warder of Bza’hi’ia, a sprawling,  labyrinthine complex. It was a prison camp, the size of a small city, located on Jahannam’s third moon. That desolate penal-moon housed hundreds of the Dominion’s captives. Many of them were political prisoners who had dared to speak out against the the ruling junta.  The rest were soldiers captured in battle, and civilians taken as spoils of war to be sold into slavery.

    Except for twice a day, when she would retreat to rest and eat, the Warder was there in that cell with Daniel. Like all Domini, she was tall and whip-thin, with long, spindly arms and hands tipped with razor-sharp claws.  She was dressed in a robe of deep scarlet, her face shadowed by the cowl.  Standing nearby, a fearsome-looking beast of a man she called Sgt. Ix’i’i. The Sergeant reminded Daniel of taller, handsomer version of a Troll, with four powerfully muscled arms. His skin was dark brown, his hair blue-black and tied in a single braid that fell down his back. He had large, pointed ears, both pierced with dozens of silver hoops, rings and studs.

    Daniel couldn’t clearly see the Warder, just a vague outline of her. She stayed hidden in the shadows always waiting, always watching, directing his interrogation. He quickly came to recognize her by her scent: she smelled like Death, like something corrupt, filth personified.

    The Warder had tried every trick she knew to get Daniel to comply, subjecting his body and mind to every cruel, perverse punishment that she could imagine. She promised Daniel that she would stop as soon as he agreed to do what she asked. It was just a little thing she wanted, of no real consequence: Open the Great Seal, bring down the barrier that separated the two realities. Simple, really.

    Despite it all, despite the fear and the pain and the loneliness, Daniel had remained defiant. The Warder was starting to wear him down, though - the isolation and deprivation, all the pain and fear, they were beginning to eat away at Daniel’s will, his ability to resist. The brave, gentle Seraph was losing hope.  How much more he could take before the Warder finally broke his spirit?

    Time had lost all meaning, lost its predictable nature. There was no day or night, nothing to orient him, no way to mark the passage of time. There were other voices now, too, a cacophony of sound, clamoring in his mind, buzzing like a swarm of angry hornets. It was absolutely maddening. They were always in his head, droning on and on and on…

    <...danieldanieldanieldanieldanieldanieldanieldanieldanieldaniel...>

    “What do you want from me?” Daniel groaned after a particularly brutal session. The Sergeant, he grudgingly meted out the physical torture at Jezidiho’s command; Daniel suspected he did not enjoy his job quite the way the Warder did.  “Please, let me go! I want to go home!”

    To his utter shame, Daniel began to weep.  He hated himself for being weak.   No wonder Michael holds me in such low esteem… here I am, reduced so quickly to this, sobbing like a child, begging for my freedom.

    Daniel knew without a doubt that Lucifer would never cave, would never prostrate himself at anyone's feet, even God’s. Lucifer would, as a matter of principle, die before he would plead for clemency from a Domini, especially this one. The Warder and Lucifer had a past, a very distasteful history, going back centuries. Lucifer would go out on his own terms, fighting, his final act to deny the Warder with his last dying breath and take her with him if he could.

    <...openitNOWopenitopenitNOWopenitopenopenitNOWopenitopenitopenitopenitNOW…>

    Daniel groaned.  His world had been reduced to pain and loneliness. He knew he would die alone, and the horror of it left him gasping. He’d been pushed well beyond the limits of his endurance, was barely hanging on, and his captor knew it, too.

    “Rest your weary heart now, Daniel. I give you the night, to ponder upon my words.” With that, she left, to formulate a new plan.

    The Warder hated to admit it, but Daniel was proving much more difficult to break than she’d anticipated. Prior to taking Daniel, she had assured her superiors that she would have him singing the Song of Keys by the first day. She’d been proven wrong, and it irked her. It was time, she knew, to change tactics. Her superiors were breathing down her neck; they wanted results. NOW. Their window of opportunity was a narrow one, and if they missed it, she knew she would be the one to pay.

    After a sleepless night, she returned. Daniel was barely conscious, not moving, hardly breathing. Sgt. I’xi’i flinched. It sickened him to see such a beautiful creature so horribly wounded. The Warder, however, was untouched by Daniel’s plight. She moved beside Daniel and leaned her face close to his, whispered in his ear: “Hello, Daniel.”

    Daniel stirred, but didn’t open his eyes. Her breath was rank and smelled of decay, her body reeked of sweat and cruelty. Daniel wanted to be sick, but there was nothing in his stomach to bring up. He wretched miserably.

    <...unlockthedoorunlockthedoorunlockthedoorunlockthedoor…>

    The Warder laughed and clamped her sharp little incisors down hard on Daniel’s earlobe. His eyes flew open and he stared at her.  

    “Are you ready to do as I ask, Little One?”

    Daniel flinched; he hated her calling him that. “I told you, I don’t understand…”

    <...youaretheoneyouaretheoneyouaretheoneyouaretheoneyouaretheone…>

    The Warder shook her head. “Silly feather-head, do you think I really believe that?  I’m no fool, and neither are you, I suspect.” She crossed her arms over her chest and sighed. “You are the Key, Daniel.  Open the door for us, and I swear, the hurting will stop. Sing us your Song, sweet child, and we will return you to your home.”

    Daniel knew the Warder was lying; he was never going to get out of there alive. He felt himself slipping closer to the edge of nothing, falling for all eternity. He prayed, but not to God: Please Tiamadaeo, take me away from this horrid place of death and decay. Please don’t let me fall into the darkness.

    “I don’t know the words!” Daniel cried. “This Song of Keys, these strange things you speak of, doorways and seals, they mean nothing to me.  How can I sing for you when I don’t know the words?” His throat was parched and dry. He was thirsty, oh so very thirsty. Then, a miracle: Sergeant, Ix’i’i pressed a cold metal cup to Daniel's torn lips, and he gulped down the stale water. It was warm and smelled foul. He didn't care, he drank it all, and asked for more.

    “Will you sing for me, Daniel? Now that I have done you this kindness?” The Warder asked.  “Honor me with your Song, sweet Eroddwyn.”

    <...singsongEroddwynsingsongEroddwynsingsongEroddwynsingsongEroddwyn...>

    Daniel felt like he was going to be sick; that foul witch, she had his NAME. Daniel knew, finally, how the Dominion was able to find him, how they’d been able to overpower Lucifer, place him under their spell. He realized, too, that it had been one of his fellow Angels who had betrayed them to the Dominion, given them their secret Names. Who could possibly hate Lucifer so much that they would collaborate with the Dominion, would risk so much? Daniel had a sudden longing, a very selfish one, but he couldn’t help it. He wished Lucifer was with him in that cold cell, comforting him as only he was able to. He could almost feel Lucifer’s elegant fingers brushing the back of his neck in that way that always made him purr with delight. Thinking of it, of Lucifer’s gentle touch, he almost started to, but managed to catch himself in time. A close call, and Daniel was relieved beyond words that he hadn’t betrayed Lucifer, taking comfort in the fact that his beautiful dark lover was far away, untouched by such ugliness. Tiamadaeo, I miss you…


    Out of nowhere, I sense Daniel’s sweet Presence. For just a fleeting moment, I can almost feel his touch, catch a whiff of his scent, and then he is gone from me again. I am overcome with grief. Michael, concern written clearly in his eyes, grasps my arm to steady me. The tears come again, unbidden, and slide down my cheeks.

    ‘What is it, Luc?’ Michael asks, searching my face. I can’t answer him at first; my sorrow has left me mute. ‘Please, Brother, talk to me!’

    Finally, I find my voice, and tell him: ‘Eroddwyn…’ I say my beloved’s Name, speak it like a prayer. ‘I felt him here, just now, for a moment.’

    ‘Daniel? He’s alive? Truly?’ Michael asks, hope shining on his face. I look at him, and just as quickly his hope fades, and his face crumbles in on itself. ‘Oh no…’

    I saw what they’re doing to him, and for a moment I can’t speak.  ‘They’re killing him, Brother, slow and ugly. They give him no peace. They’re relentless in their torture. How could they do it, Sahmodei? How could anyone harm that sweet, gentle creature?’

    Michael has no answers for me. He feels just as helpless, just as impotent, as I do.

    I want to break something. I want to vomit. I want to die. I want to weep. I want to leave right now and find Daniel. I vow to crush they who hurt him, but more, I vow my darkest vengeance upon who betrayed Daniel to the Dominion.  In the end, I do, as always, damn me, NONE of these things. I wait, as I know I must, as Michael says I must, but the waiting, it goes against my impatient nature. Angry, I say out loud:

    ‘Eroddwyn, if you can hear me, remember what I told you, and if you can, please, Eroddwyn, my love, forgive me.’

    This time, it is Michael who weeps.


    Daniel gasped; for a moment, he thought he heard Lucifer whisper his Name.

    “NO!” Daniel shoved Lucifer away, closing off his mind to him. He prayed that the Warder hadn’t noticed the fleeting intrusion. He knew that if she discovered the truth, she would snatch Lucifer up, use him like a bargaining chip, extort Daniel’s cooperation in return for not harming Lucifer. And Daniel would surrender immediately, he knew without a doubt he would, for he would do anything, sacrifice everything, to keep the Dominion from harming his Tiamadaeo.

    Daniel realized the Warder was studying him like a predator studies its prey. She circled him, flitting from one shadow to another, remaining just outside Daniel’s field of vision. Suddenly, she appeared beside him. Daniel gasped as her rubbery lips brushed along his neck, leaving behind a trail of something sticky and foul-smelling. Daniel shuddered with revulsion. She laughed harshly and bit his neck with her sharp little teeth, drawing blood. She lapped at it greedily. Daniel felt bile rise in his throat, and he struggled not to vomit. I’xi’i took a step forward, concern on his face, then paused, unsure.  

    The Warder stepped back from Daniel, a tiny, closed-lipped smile on her dark face. “Why, Daniel! You really do love Lucifer!  It’s written on your face plain as day!” She laughed, her hot breath tickling his ear. “Tell me, does your dark prince love you just as well?”

    Daniel felt a cold chill dance up his spine. Damn her eyes, she knows. Forgive me, Lucifer...I have betrayed us to her.  He lifted his chin and looked right at her, his lavender eyes meeting her yellow ones, unflinching.  It was a small act of defiance, almost inconsequential, but there it was. It earned him a quick but stunning blow to the belly, delivered with surgical precision by the Warder herself. Daniel grunted with pain, but stubbornly refused to cry out. He wouldn’t give the sadistic bitch the satisfaction.  I’xi’i took another hesitant step towards her.

    “Answer the question, Stripling Angel! Are you truly Lucifer’s whore? Are you that imp’s most beloved?” she demanded, even though she already knew the answer; she just wanted to hear him say it, out loud, knew that making him do so would add to his woes.

    “Yes, I am Lucifer’s, I am his, completely,” Daniel finally said, his voice soft, wistful. A single tear spilled from his eyes, and greedy still, her tongue, flicked out and stole that tear, drank it up. She savored the taste of his sorrow.

    “I knew it! You are truly Lucifer’s paramore! What devilishly good luck! How delightful!”  She caressed Daniel’s face.  “And lo, ‘tis surprising, too.  See, I am well-acquainted with your lover.  Considering what a hedonist Prince Lucifer is, I never would have figured him the sort to settle for just one lover, not when your world abounds with countless indulgences.” She giggled and ran her finger along Daniel’s lower lip.  “Oh, don’t put on such sad airs, Daniel.  Lucifer’s exploits of the flesh are legendary, even here in the Dominion.”

    Daniel tried to keep his expression neutral, but it pained him to hear the wretched woman speak of Lucifer’s casual relationships and hedonic adventures.  But that was BEFORE...a voice whispered inside his brain.  Still, it hurt.  The Story-Spell the Warder was weaving was meant to further degrade Daniel’s will.  It was simple in its own sadistic way, using Daniel’s own fears and insecurities against him.  Plant a seed of doubt and voila!  Doubt leads to distrust.  Distrust leads to feelings of betrayal.  Those feelings lead to anger, and so on down that twisted road the soul goes, closer and closer to hate. Soon enough, when the physical torture, the emotional deprivation, the spiritual degradation had played their part, Daniel would be ripe for the plucking.  Anger would feed his already considerable power and hurt would provide the spark.  When it happened, Daniel would willingly raise his voice in Song, and smash the Great Seal to pieces, opening the doorway, the last remaining barrier between the two realities. It was the only thing that had prevented the Dominion from spreading like a wild fire disease into that other Universe, with all its treasures.  She was practically drooling at the thought of all those tasty treats:  Humans, Daemons, Angels, Celestials, ready to be savored.

    But there was work to do, yet.  Daniel was still defiant, clinging to his pillar of strength: his love.  The Warder continued her Song of Seduction.  “Ah, sweet boy, darling child...it pains me to have to tell you these awful things.  But truly, I seek only to open your eyes to the truth.  You deserve that, at least.  I can deliver you from the prison of Lucifer’s lust.”  She gave a dramatic sigh, and pressed her hand to her breast.

    “No…” Daniel whispered.  “You lie…”

    “You must really love your Prince of Sorrows, to always forgive him his transgressions, of which they are legion.” She clucked her tongue, then dragged one of her long, bony talons across Daniel’s heaving chest, drawing a bead of blood across his skin.  Dark purple, it glistened like a string of tiny amethysts.

    “Still,” she went on, “I can see why Lucifer would forsake all others for you.  Ah, yes, I too, would whisper a thousand love poems in your ears, would use all my energy and power to turn your heart, make you mine.”  She sighed like a love-besotted girl.  “You are truly a vision of loveliness, my darling, an absolute nugat of delicious carnality.  I could spend an eternity devouring you, one sweet bite at a time.”  She laid her cold hand over his heart, tracing her sharp claws down his belly, then down further still, between his legs, cupping him in the palm of her hand.  Daniel recoiled at her touch. He closed his eyes tight, and thought of Lucifer, of his words to him:

    “Never forget, Eroddwyn, no matter what happens, no matter where I am, no matter the distance between us, I am always right here.”

    Daniel sighed, and a tiny smile tugged at the corners of his lips.  Arrogant, the Warder misinterpreted it.  

    “So, my bright and shining boy, do you wish to please me? Will you sing for me, here, now, even in this dark and dreadful place?”  She slithered behind him, wrapped her long, slender arms around his waist, pulling him close, so that their bodies were touching.  “If you do desire, my love, my sumptuous Daniel, if it is the warmth of Wormwood you crave, just say the word, and I shall see you unfettered, free again to move in the light.  Simply ask it of me, and I shall take you away from here, somewhere safe where you may sing the Song of Keys!”

    “No,” Daniel said, firm.  The Warder was stunned - she wasn’t sure if she’d heard him right, and moved around again to face him.  He looked at her, steadfast.

    “What?  What did you say to me?” Jezidiho hissed.

    “I said NO!”  Daniel shouted at her, refusing to yield.

    Her temper flared like her angry Sun God.  “Damn you!  Why do you persist in defying me? Do you think it brave? Do you crave martyrdom so much? You fool! You stupid, mindless, arrogant FOOL!” She brandished her whip in Daniel’s face. It had seven braided tails tipped with razor-sharp spikes, coated in obsidian, dripping acid.  His calm demeanor only fueled her fury.  Alarmed, Sgt. Ix’i’i stepped forward.  He had his own orders, and those were to ensure that the Warder did not cross the line and kill Daniel. Ix’i’i grasped her arm in one of his mighty fists.

    “Stay your hand, Warder,” he said, soft, trying to diffuse her rage.

    She yanked her arm free and, with just a flick of her finger, sent Ix’i’i crashing senseless into the wall.  “I thank you for your concern, Sergeant, but my sweet dove here should have a taste - just a little taste - of what I do to those misguided idiots who dare defy me.”  

    She began whipping Daniel, luxuriating in his screams until, finally overcome with pain and loss of blood, he was swallowed up by blessed oblivion.

    The Warder was gone when Daniel woke.  He wasn’t sure how much time had passed, wasn’t sure of anything except that he wasn’t dead.  He was still in his cell, but he’d been freed from the shackles. He could move, but moving hurt.  It took him a few minutes to orient himself.  He was nude, lying face down on a blanket.  It was old, a bit ratty, but it smelled clean, and it was soft against his ravaged flesh.  Someone was bathing him, but in the low light he couldn’t see them, although by their scent, they were female, not human, but similar.  Normally, Daniel didn’t like to be touched by strangers, but at the moment the only thing that mattered to him was that her hands were cool and soft and gentle. A Healer, he thought, of some small ability, but trying her best to ease his hurts. Bless her heart.  

    He turned his head to the side to get a better look at her.  A small girl, just on the edge of womanhood, her auburn hair done in two braids that bordered her sweet, heart-shaped face.  A dainty creature, her skin was pale, her large, almond-shaped eyes the color of emeralds, framed by thick lashes and arching brows.  Her cheekbones were high, her face a symphony of lines and angles.  Daniel tried to sit up, but she pressed her hand against the small of his back, made him lay back down.

    “Be easy now,” she said, and gave him a reassuring smile.   Daniel nodded and rested his chin down on his folded arms, tried to relax as she went about her work. After cleaning away the blood and filth, she ran her hands over the angry welts that criss-crossed his back. She worked with practiced but gentle hands, humming a wordless tune, like a lullabye, something one would sing to soothe a crying child.  

    “I’m sorry, but I have to roll you over,” the girl said.  She spoke in a soft, almost breathy way, as if she wasn’t used to speaking aloud. She looked to her companion.  “I’xi’i’, would you help me, please?”

    Daniel startled at the name; he hadn’t even noticed the hulking Sergeant, standing nearby, watching them.

    “I won’t hurt you,” I’xi’i’ said softly, holding out his hands in a gesture of apology.  Despite his fearsome countenance, Daniel saw something in his big, ginger-colored eyes.  Pity, maybe?  No...remorse and sadness.  He remembered how I’xi’i’ had tried to stop the Warder, and that he’d been knocked senseless for his actions.  Then Daniel saw the slave collar around I’xi’i’’s throat.  He understood now that they were all prisoners.

    “Please, let me help you,” I’xi’i’ said, kneeling down. Carefully, the big man rolled Daniel over onto his back, and the girl repeated the process:  wash first and heal what she could. Next, slowly, carefully, they helped Daniel sit up.  I’xi’i’ sat behind him and, with surprising gentleness, wrapped two of his arms around Daniel’s waist, holding him up.   Exhausted, Daniel leaned back against him, relaxing into his embrace.  

    “All done,” the girl told him with a shy smile.

    “Thank you,” Daniel whispered.  He closed his eyes and as hard as he fought them, he couldn’t stop the tears from coming. “I...forgive me, I’m just…” he couldn’t finish, and let the grief overtake him.

    “There’s no shame in weeping, not after all you’ve endured,” I’xi’i’ reassured him.  He softly stroked Daniel’s wings with his free hands, almost absentmindedly, but still, it calmed and soothed the young Angel, and his tears stopped. Daniel closed his eyes and began to purr. I’xi’i’ shared a surprised, yet delighted, look with the girl; he knew, instinctively, that it meant Daniel trusted them, and was, for the moment, at ease.  

    <How do you feel?> the girl asked.

    Daniel opened his eyes and gave her a curious look.  She’d spoken to him in one of the Old Tongues, a very ancient one, and suddenly, he knew what she was.  She was one of the Daoine Maithe - the Good People.  Daniel’s heart sank, to think of one of her kind trapped in such an awful place, where nothing green grew.

    “Oh little Duine! What are you doing here?” Daniel reached out to touch her, but she shied away.  He felt  Ix’i’i stiffen. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, then smiled for her.  “What’s your name?”

    <Leannán> she answered, unable to meet his steady gaze.  She played nervously with one of her braids.

    “And the imposing figure behind me...Sgt. I’xi’i’, yes?”

    “I am he,” I’xi’i’ said.  He heaved a big sigh and shifted his weight so that Daniel could sit up more fully.  Leannán held a waterskin to Daniel’s lips. The water was cool and clean and almost sweet.  He drank too much too fast, and immediately vomited it back up.  Leannán looked at him with concern.  

    “No, little love, don’t worry.  I drank too fast, that’s all.”  Daniel reached over and touched her hand. She rewarded him with a smile, and gave him the skin.

    “Slowly, this time,” Leannán cautioned him. Daniel did as he was told, and sipped the water, fighting the urge to gulp it down like he wanted.  “Daniel?  Are you really an Angel?” she asked, shy.  She was staring down at her hands, folded tightly in her lap.

    Daniel smiled at her gently and tucked a loose strand of her hair behind her ear.  She blushed deeply at the gesture, so intimate, yet so familiar, too.  “I’m a Seraph, one of the lower order of angels.”

    Her big eyes grew wider, and she pressed her clasped hands to her heart.  I’xi’i’ watched her with paternal affection.

    “Oh!  I’xi’i’ said you were, but I thought he was teasing me,” She said, breathless.  “Listen to me, prattling on like a fool.  You must be hungry!”  She stood quickly and grabbed a pot and bowl off the table, then sat back down in front of Daniel.  She poured something into the bowl and handed it to Daniel.  It was broth of some sort, not much to it, but it was hot and smelled delicious.  Daniel’s mouth was flooded with saliva.  It seemed ages since he’d eaten last.

    “It’s just a simple vegetable broth, but it’s good for you,” Leannán said.  She gave him that shy, somewhat awkward smile again.

    “Thank you,” he whispered, then ducked his head, afraid he might cry again.  

    Leannán frowned.  “I wish you weren’t so sad and lonely; you’re just like my I’xi’i.”  She cast a loving glance at the battle-scarred warrior. “I wish I could heal those kinds of hurts.”

    “You healed my heart, daughter.  It’s enough for me,” Ix’i’i said.  He turned his large, soulful eyes on Daniel.  <Do you understand these words?> he asked, his deep voice barely a whisper.

    It took Daniel a moment to pick up the rhythm of it.   Daniel replied.  He understood that they would be able to communicate in secret this way.  <Go slow. I haven’t much practice with it.>

    I’xi’i’ nodded.  <Do you know what the Dominion want from you?>

    <They know I’m the Key.  But I don’t know the words to the Song; they’ll only come to me at the appointed time, and no sooner.>

    Leannán’s face fell.  <Don’t tell the Warder! If she thinks you can’t, she’ll end your life and seek the Other.>

    <You must resist, Daniel, for as long as you can,> I’xi’i’ said.  <There’s too much at stake here.>

    Daniel swallowed hard.  "I’m trying, really I am.  But I’m afraid...I’m not strong, I’m not brave…"

    Leannán took Daniel’s hand in hers.  He felt a comforting warmth emanating from them.  <Courage, Daniel, is enduring for one moment more.>  She looked over at I’xi’i’, then back at Daniel.  He felt the tears come again, unbidden.  Leannán and I’x’i’i wrapped him in their arms and held him as he wept.  

    "Not much time left." the Sergeant warned.

    "It begins again soon, doesn’t it?" Daniel asked, unable to hide his fear.

    "Don’t despair.  No matter what, I’ll be here, nearby, always where you may see me."

    "Be brave, Daniel," Leannán whispered, then gently kissed away his tears."

    I’xi’i’ frowned and cocked his head to one side, as if he’d heard something.  "Run along now, daughter."

    Leannán gathered up her things and fled the room.  I’xi’i’ scooped Daniel up off the floor.  If the Warder saw Daniel unchained, she would lash out at them both.

    "Forgive me," I’xi’i’ whispered as he fastened the chains to Daniel’s wrists again. Daniel nodded firmly.

    "Hurry, before the bitch returns."

    I’xi’i’ made a grunting sound, then pulled the chains taut, suspending Daniel above the floor once again.  Daniel gritted his teeth against the pain.

    "I will not abandon you," 
I’xi’i’ whispered.

    And then they waited.


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Part One

“A Little Blasphemy Helps The Cyanide Go Down”    


The Toasty Roaster Coffee Shop

Greenwich Village, New York City


    “Go to Hell, Michael,” Lucifer whispered with a dismissive gesture. Michael disappeared in a puff of smoke.

    “Lucifer!” Raphael cried, alarmed. “What have you done??? I vouchsafed you! He’s going to kill me!”

    Lucifer held up his hand to the gentle Archangel. “Calm down, Raf. He’ll be right back.”

    <cracklePoof!>

    Michael reappeared, more or less intact, smoldering and covered in ash. The Warrior Archangel was not happy. Lucifer grinned. Raphael and the fourth member of their group, Daniel, looked on in frightened fascination, both of them unsure how the next few seconds would transpire. Aside from Metatron, Lucifer was the only Archangel who matched Michael in size and strength. If they were reduced to blows, those two great Immortals, it would be ugly. Unstoppable Force, meet Immovable Object.

    “I really hate you sometimes,” Michael snarled, pointing his sword at Lucifer. Michael was an imposing creature, well over six feet tall, powerfully built, with a leonine mane of gold hair that tumbled in waves down his back. He looked carved from stone. His eyes, the color of glacial water, glinted with anger. Poor Raphael, slightly built and lithe, his wings the same deep coppery-bronze as his hair, looked so small in comparison. He trembled before Michael’s rage.

    Lucifer seemed unconcerned, and sipped from his double mocha latte.  One of his many complaints about Hell was that he couldn’t get a decent cup of coffee.  Luckily, Toasty Roaster made the best cuppa joe anywhere. The shop was old, dusty and musty and dinged-up, poorly-lit, with a cranky crew of baristas.  They were famous for their house blend, served scalding hot and insanely strong. It was one of the more charming Portals to Hell. Lucifer adored the vibe almost as much as the coffee.

    “Enjoy your trip, Mikey?” Lucifer asked. He was the very picture of handsome elegance in his perfectly tailored suit, an all-black ensemble that complimented his exquisite physique without being too clichéd. His hair was thick, cut short, the color of silky coal, his dark eyes unreadable, fathomless.  “Hell’s lovely this time of year isn’t it? Careful what you say next, because I’ll send you back for another round if you piss me off again,” Lucifer warned. He licked his thumb and forefinger and put out a glowing ember tucked between two of Michael’s feathers. It made a hissing sound.

    “You wouldn’t dare… not to me!” Michael sputtered.

    “Wouldn’t I?” Lucifer cocked an eyebrow at him. “Easy now, Brother. I can do this all day. You’ll be puking your guts out by the third time. Do you yield, or no?”

    Michael’s bright blue eyes narrowed. For a moment, Lucifer thought he might actually explode right then and there. What a mess that would be. I hate messes. I love you, Brother, but please yield.

    “I yield, you great, braying ass.  Why you were always His favorite is beyond me...Brother,” Michael finally said, sliding his sword back into its sheath.  He looked at Raphael and scowled darkly at his fellow Archangel. “Raphael, damn your eyes! What were you thinking, inviting Lucifer? We don’t need him.”

    “I’m sorry, Michael, but we do,” Raphael replied, with more courage than Lucifer expected. It left him feeling pleasantly surprised, and quite proud of Raphael for standing up to Michael despite his fear.

    Michael turned on him with unconcealed contempt. “You addle-headed fool, Raphael! Go strum a harp or something.  God’s Teeth, isn’t there some blind Mortal that needs healing? I swear, you’re almost as useless as silly little Daniel over here.” Raphael flinched; when Michael was angry, his words could draw blood. Beside him, Daniel, a Lesser Angel, gasped at Michael’s cruelty and shrank back, afraid. Seeing that, Lucifer struggled to stay calm. Oh, that is unacceptable. He pinned Michael with his dark eyes.

    “You haven’t changed one bit, Michael, you great pompous ass!” Lucifer sneered. “You are positively insufferable, you know that? So ugly when you talk.” Lucifer ran his finger along Michael’s lower lip. “There are better things you could be doing with that pretty mouth of yours.” Michael glowered at him, but said nothing. Lucifer wrinkled his nose. “Really, Michael, you should wash. You stink like wet Hellhound and burnt feathers.”

    Raphael hid a smile behind his hand and shared a conspiratorial look with Daniel, who smiled back at him, shy and sweet as always.

    “Asshole,” Michael growled. He spun on his heel and stormed off, trailing wisps of brimstone and curses. Raphael followed, to make sure he didn’t, in a fit of pique, vaporize some poor Mortal using the Roaster’s lavatory. Lucifer found the whole thing amusing, and gave a loud bark of laughter.

    Daniel turned his big, lavender-shaded eyes on him. Lucifer found himself trapped by Daniel’s gaze.  It was stunning, really, how beautiful and sensual a creature Daniel was, with his lilac-tinted silver hair and wings, his lovely body, his smooth alabaster skin. He was dressed, as all Angels did when mingling with Mortals, in the human fashion:  a simple white shirt and faded denim jeans soft as butter and practically painted on.  Lucifer thought they made his ass look spectacular.  He dipped his head toward Daniel and made a show of sniffing his neck.  Daniel’s scent was intoxicating; he smelled like clean snow and fresh-mown hay and some exotic spice.

    “That was unkind, Luc,” Daniel said in his low and lilting voice, silky-smooth, like sweet cream. “Michael was just being himself.  He meant no harm.”

    Lucifer gazed down at the young Seraph, Daniel the Joyful, and smiled gently at him. “Yes, but Michael should learn to play nice. I’ve been on my very best behavior, and he’s been an absolute prick. There’s only so much of his self-righteous twaddle I can stand.”

    Daniel cocked his head to one side and shrugged.  “True.  He can be a right ass,” he said, then turned his attention to the greasy smear of ash on the floor.  It was all that remained of the Mortal who had offended Lucifer just moments before Michael had stormed, unannounced, onto the scene.  If Michael was disturbed by the very recent carnage, either he hadn’t noticed, or he didn’t care.  Lucifer suspected it was the latter.

    “You killed that man,” Daniel whispered. He said it in a neutral way, curious as to why.

    “I didn’t kill him, Little One. I ate his soul.” Lucifer licked his lips and belched softly. A little puff of sulfur escaped his mouth;  the man's perverted soul had given him a bad case of heartburn.  “Excuse me.”

    Daniel looked perplexed.  “Why? Just because he called me those names?  A bit much, don’t you think?”

    Lucifer sighed. Sometimes Daniel could be quite näive. Well, more than sometimes, but it was an endearing quality. “While words have a power of their own, it was the man’s true self that angered me. I heard his thoughts, and they were foul. If you had been alone, he would have taken you, Daniel…savaged you.”

    Daniel gasped. He’d had no inkling that the handsome Mortal meant him harm. At first, the man had spoken to him with such beautiful words. But then, when Daniel had rebuffed him, he’d transformed, quick as that, into something hateful.

    Dirtylittlewhore!

    Lucifer had heard what the Mortal had called Daniel, reacted instinctively, his only thought to protect Daniel.  

    “Oh!” Daniel said, stunned. “I’m sorry; I didn’t know.” He hugged himself with his arms.

    Lucifer scowled. He hated that Daniel had been subjected to such ugliness. “Don’t be.  You did nothing wrong.  He was a filthy piece of work, a rapist, indiscriminate in his victims.” Lucifer shuddered as he thought about it. “I suppose I could’ve spent an eternity flaying him alive, but really, he wasn’t worth the expenditure of my energies. I have more pressing matters at the moment. Like saving the world.” He stopped and smiled charmingly. “Now, where was I before we were so rudely interrupted?”

    Daniel’s eyes grew wide as Lucifer swept him into his arms. “Oh my goodness!” And then, feeling Lucifer’s strong, familiar hands on his body, Daniel couldn’t help but make a sweet little sound, of pleasure and anticipation.

    “I’ve missed you, missed sleeping beside you, missed your kisses, missed your love,” Daniel whispered.  His voice was pitched low, and Lucifer could hear the unmistakable sound of desire.

    “I’m sorry I was away so long.  I hate leaving you here alone,” Lucifer told him. And he meant it; he hated their time apart. “Eroddwyn,” he sighed, speaking Daniel’s true Name.  

    Impatient now, Lucifer kissed him, his tongue exploring the sweetness of Daniel’s mouth, not caring one bit that they were making a spectacle of themselves. “I love you,” he said.  Suddenly, a Song came to him, tickled his brain. Though not one of his greater gifts, Lucifer sang it to his lover.  When he was done, he gave Daniel an embarrassed smile: Yes, I know… it’s clumsy and silly, but it’s yours, Eroddwyn.   

    Daniel sighed, touched by Lucifer’s Song. “Thank you for that, Tiamadaeo.”

    Centuries ago, in that quiet moment where their love was first born, he’d given Daniel a gift, just for him.  It was Lucifer’s Angelic Name, Tiamadaeo. It was not a gesture made lightly; there was great power in knowing it. Never before had an an Archangel shared his Name with a Seraph.  It was unheard of, but then again, Lucifer was, by nature, a rule-breaker.

    Lucifer smiled softly as Daniel leaned into him, content. He felt his heart soar, knowing Daniel felt safe with him, and he was filled with a fierce and tender love.  Granted, it was an odd pairing, Lucifer, the Prince of Sorrows and Daniel the Joyful, but it was love in its simplest form: strong, and gentle and true. Reunited at last, they stood for a long time in the low light of dusk, wrapped up in each other's arms, surrounded by Mortals who barely gave them a second glance. It was a moment of peace in a time when things were about to go to shit, and Lucifer felt a cold shiver of anticipation crawl up his spine at the thought of what was coming.


Lucifer Speaks…

    Before we continue this tale, I’d like to straighten out a few misconceptions about me. I’m not the Devil nor his misbegotten son. Satan is the King of Hell, not I. I merely manage the place for Old Scratch. And I was not cast out of Heaven for rebelling against God; rather the opposite, actually. It pains me how you Mortals have gotten the story all wrong. Really, the only ones who got it right were the Sufis, bless their gentle hearts. Perhaps that’s why I take a perverse pride in my torment of those who oppress them. But I digress, really. Back to the story of wonderful me, eh?

    You see, it was all about love, not my reputed excessive pride. I didn’t rebel against God; my fall from Grace was a conscious decision, an act of self-sacrifice. I refused to bow down to Man and worship him as I was commanded to do, because I was devoted only to God. I would not - could not - venerate anything or anyone but God. It was a test to see whether I could maintain my love at any cost. And I passed. But still, I’d disobeyed and was punished, as I knew I would be. Ah, I was young then, and näive, and so full of love, so much so that I lost Heaven for it, and fell from grace to despair. I swore I’d never do something so stupid again, would never love like that again, would never let myself be hurt again. One should never say never, I suppose.

    Now, looking at Daniel’s precious face, so serene in sleep, I know I have flung myself into the Abyss once again, fool that I am. Then again, we may all be dead soon, devoured by the Dominion, so this could all be moot. We shall see. Time to return to the story.  Care to join me in the Dance, my lovelies?


The Hotel Abaddon

Lucifer’s Penthouse

    I love this place. One of the greatest benefits of being CEO of Hell, Inc. is the superb travel accommodations. Nothing but the best for me. Earlier, I’d hailed a cab for Daniel and me outside the Roaster, told the driver (some minor Daemon whose name escapes me at the moment) to bring us here, to the Abaddon. Hidden away from the world, we could steal some precious moments together, relax until this whole world-saving business is done.

    Now, tucked into our luxurious suite at the top of that swanky hotel (and yes, if you’re wondering, it’s another Portal to Hell - there are a frightful number of them in Manhattan), I have time to think about the whirlwind of events that have led me to this place and time. I’d just wrapped up an assignment back in Hell when Raphael sent for me, told me the Dominion were coming, and soon. It was only a matter of time, he’d informed me, before they figured out how to break through the Great Seal and come pouring into our Universe from theirs. And truly, God help us all when (not if, when) they do.

    While Daniel soaks in the tub, I strip off my clothes, shake the kinks from my wings and stretch out on the soft bed. For a moment, I savor the quiet stillness. When I close my eyes and listen carefully, I can hear the soft tap-tap-tapping of the Dominion on the Great Seal. How long will it be, I wonder, before they find a way to cross the Void? I shudder at the thought; the Dominion, they’re like locusts, mindless and huge, devouring everything in their path.  Sometimes I envy Mortals their peaceful ignorance, going about their days, oblivious to the truth of what is happening around them.

    I am half-asleep when Daniel slips under the cool sheets and wraps himself around me.

    “Tiamadaeo,” he whispers to me.

    Eroddwyn, my love,” I coo back. Daniel gives a happy little chirp and nuzzles his face against my chest. I gently tickle the nape of his neck. He begins to purr, a sound unique to him. Oh, how I love that sound, like a lullabye caressing my ears.

    “I miss you when you’re gone,” Daniel says softly.

    “I know, sweetheart. If I could, I’d stay by your side always.” I trace my finger down his neck to his chest, press it against his heart. “Never forget, Eroddwyn, no matter what happens, no matter where I am, no matter the distance between us, I am always right here.”

    “I can feel you with me always, Heart of my Heart,” Daniel says, wrapping his hand over mind and pressing it to him. “Whenever I’m lonely, all I have to do is listen to my heartbeat, and there you are.” He kisses me, soft and sweet.

    “Eroddwyn…” I struggle to find the words. Daniel is my light in the dark.  How I adore his sweet, gentle soul.  Daniel makes a lovely sound, a snippet of music from a longer Song, the one he sings just for me whenever we must part.  I can’t help but sigh like some love-besotted fool. I don’t want to leave his side ever again. With every reunion, I always tell myself: Never again will I allow us to be parted, one from the other. It’s like dying a little bit at a time.

    But alas, some problem always rears its ugly head, and I have to tear myself away from Daniel once more. As always, Daniel doesn’t reproach me. He kisses me and tells me he loves me, makes me promise to be careful and return to him soon as possible. I have no idea what I’ve done to deserve Daniel’s love. But there it is. Our love gets me through the worst of it, and there’s nothing so wonderful as returning to his ever-waiting arms. Many times, thoughts of him, his love for me and mine for him are the only things that keep me going. Daniel’s the only one who’s ever seen me weep.

    The most recent “crisis” angered me. Really, one of my subordinates - Samael comes to mind - could’ve handled it. But no, Satan wanted me to manage it personally. Seemed a haughty little Daemon, Raum, had tried to foment a rebellion, overthrow Satan and replace him with - wait for it - Satan’s son, Damien (yes, that really is the little tosser’s name; can you believe that? Ugh, the cliché is just mind-boggling). Heaven and Hell help us all if that misbegotten little shit-spawn ever gets his way.

    As for Raum, that would-be puppet master? I truly despise that ugly, crow-faced little coward and his nasty penchant for trying to corrupt children. Children! Honestly, who does that? I may be Satan’s left-hand-man, and Hell is… well, it’s Hell. But even the worst of us wouldn’t stoop so low as to try and corrupt a child.

    There are rules forbidding such behavior. Rules, you say? I hear you laughing back there. Yes, Hell has rules. On my very first day as CEO, I locked myself in my office and wrote out a Rule Book, a sort of Dummies Guide to Daemonic Business Organization and Practice. Next I crafted a desperately-needed Employee Handbook.

    On the second day, I took a walking tour of Hell. I was, quite frankly, disgusted by the complete lack of anything that even vaguely resembled order. It didn’t appear anyone was in charge. Yes, Satan is the King of Hell, Lord of Hades, Ruler of the Underworld, but he couldn’t find his own furry asshole without a compass and a detailed roadmap, much less manage the sprawling wilderness that’s his domain. He’s a complete failure when it comes to running Hell’s day-to-day operations. Personally, I think he just can’t be bothered.

    I’d arrived just in the nick of time. Hell had become something like a cross between a vulgar, rowdy kindergarten and a lunatic asylum, not a single staff member in sight, the inmates allowed to run amok like a bunch of over-caffeinated poodles. Since my only other alternative was to wallow in self-pity, I jumped in feet-first, eyes wide open, ready to clean fucking house.

    You see, I positively loathe chaos, and Hell was the poster child for everything chaotic. I like everything neat and clean and in its place, nothing (and no one) superfluous. Anything else is just clutter, to be tossed in the dustbin. It took some doing, but eventually, I made it work (with a little carrot, a little stick, and maybe a lot of ass-kicking), and Hell, Inc. is now one of the most successful, efficient organizations in the Universe.

    Back to that egomaniacal self-fellating bastard, Damien. If ever there was a being so enamored of himself and his over-developed sense of entitlement, it’s him. Since Damien, that little Puss-For-Brains, is Satan’s son, I was forced to tread lightly, even though he was up to his balls in Raum’s mischief. What I really wanted to do was just vaporize the little brat. Unfortunately, Satan got wind of my plan, and warned me not to incinerate his son. So, I had to play the diplomat, and diffuse the situation with as little carnage as possible.

    Eventually, I was able to put everything back in order. As for Raum? I demoted him from Shit-Truck Driver to Shit-Sucking-Hose Operator. His job is to stand behind the shit truck, up to his puckery asshole in filth, sucking up shit. To make things even better (or worse, I suppose, depending on one’s perspective), every ten minutes or so, he has to turn the thing off, reach his arm up into the hose in order to dislodge a particularly sticky lump of crap. He’s lucky I couldn’t find anything worse. But still…being forced to spend eternity sucking shit through a hose was exactly what Raum deserved. (Ha! Take that Raum, you stupid twat!) It’s the little torments that delight me.

    Damien was sent to his room for a millennia-long time out to think about what he’d done. Believe it or not, my lovelies, Satan doesn’t approve of spanking his child. If any brat was in dire need of a healthy ass-whooping, it’s Damien.

    I’d really like to retire, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.  One can dream. Perhaps, if I’m successful in saving the world, God might take pity on me at last, and grant me my one true wish: to spend the rest of eternity waking each morning beside Daniel.

    My mind wanders, and suddenly, I’m seized by a dark premonition: Something is stalking Daniel.  They want to steal him from me, and I see myself wandering forever, searching for him.  The grief such an image elicits causes a very real pain in my chest, and I shove my hand in my mouth to keep Daniel from hearing my cries. I bite down deep into my own flesh, anything to keep me grounded in the Here and Now.  

    I love Daniel, so much it hurts.  I remember when I first realized that I loved him; from that moment on, I belonged to him, heart, body and soul.  I never thought I’d feel that way again.  The last time I did, I was cast aside, and nearly died of grief.  Now, with Daniel, I have that again, and I’m so afraid of losing it.

    For the first time since I was cast out, I pray: O Merciful Lord, please do not let any harm come to Daniel. If a life must be taken, let it be mine. Watch over my beloved, O Lord, and keep him safe. Then, I make a secret vow, to myself: If anything should happen to my Eroddwyn, if I should lose him, I will drive my own blade into my heart, because without him, I am truly become the Prince of Sorrows and nothing more.

    “Luc? What’s wrong?” Daniel whispers. “You seemed so far away, just now, so very lost…”

    I press a kiss to his furrowed brow. “Just thinking how much I missed you.” I realize, all of a sudden, how very badly I want him right now, how much I desire him. I feel a throb of pleasure, a delicious ache, deep down. I can see the sudden bounding pulse at his throat, and it excites me. I pull him to me, and begin to explore him all over again, reacquainting myself with him.  As if I could ever forget the delicious hills and sumptuous valleys of his perfect, lovely body. My lips finds his, and he delights me by moaning into my mouth.  Ah, what a wicked little incubus you are, Daniel!  He hears my thoughts and laughs.

    I can’t help but shiver as Daniel runs his tongue lightly along the line of my jaw, stops to nibble on my ear a moment, then further down, he finds the pulse at my throat and kisses the spot, gently at first, then harder.  I groan; part pleasure, part frustration.  I want him so damned bad.  Daniel laughs again, a low, sultry sound, telling me: Wait, lover, be patient.  I have not yet tasted all of you.

    Daniel presses whispery little kisses down the length of my body, pausing here and there - at my chest, my belly, along my hips, the insides of my thighs - for extra attention.  And then, quick and almost stunning, he takes my cock in his mouth.  I can’t help but gasp, and I whisper his name, like a sigh at the end of a breath. Daniel works miracles with his lips, his hands, his warm mouth, his nimble tongue, brings me right up to that edge, sweet torture.  I am so very, very close.

    But not yet. I want to savor him, this moment, and I seize him, bury both my hands in his thick, silver-lilac hair. I kiss him, hard, then, one hand cupped behind his neck, I gently lower him onto his back. I stretch out beside him, grasp his hip with my hand, and roll him toward me, so we are facing one another.

    Again, we indulge ourselves, kissing and loving every inch of each other until we are both shaking with desire, with erotic anticipation. And then, I am on top of him, lifting him, putting him exactly where I want him.  Daniel slings his long legs up, encircling my chest and wraps his arms tight around my neck, holding on. I slide my hands underneath him, reach for his beautiful, perfect ass, and grab it with both hands.  I press my cock up against him, teasing him.  Daniel is panting, almost frantic now.

    I look down at him, grinning.  “Is this what you want, Daniel?”

    “Please, Luc, please now, inside me now now!” Daniel begs me, reaching down between us to grab my cock, guiding me into him.  Neither of us is able - or willing - to wait one moment more, and at last, we are moving together, moving as one, me inside his body, he inside my heart.

    We make a symphony of love. Daniel sings, weaving around us a cocoon of love and joy and sheer erotic pleasure. When we at last cry out together, it’s like an affirmation of our love, like being reborn. This, I tell you, is what Heaven really is. Two souls in concert, blissful perfection.

    Daniel falls asleep right away, the sweat of our love still cooling on his body. Sleep comes slower to me, so I indulge myself and watch him in the ethereal light that bathes our intertwined bodies.  I gather him into my arms and hold him close.  I stroke his chest - rising and falling slowly in sleep - and a smile touches the corners of his perfect mouth. I know I’m smiling, too as I slide into sleep, enveloped by my lover’s sweet scent, his gentle purring lapping at the edges of my mind.


Later that night...

    ...I am asleep, I think. I must be, surely. Dreaming in darkness. I hear screaming, guttural shouts, a voice cries out my name… is that blood I smell? But no, I am frozen in place, I cannot move… I must be dreaming… yes, I am just dreaming... dreaming... and then the sounds are gone, and I drift down into a deeper, dreamless sleep…

    I wake suddenly, bathed in sweat, flailing in mindless panic. It takes me a moment to remember where I am, and I have to laugh at myself for scaring so easily. Daniel is already up; his side of the bed is still warm, so he hasn’t been gone long.  I figure he’s in the shower. Daniel loves the steaming hot water, would spend hours in there if he could. I think I’ll join him. I have an image, of me pressing his soapy body up against the warm tiles for another healthy groping. But before I can even get out of bed, I realize I’m no longer alone.

    “Really, Michael, you could’ve knocked,” I say blandly. Michael frowns. He seems weirdly distracted. It isn’t like him, and it makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable.

    “Lucifer, we must talk,” Michael says softly. His sudden change of attitude concerns me. Something is afoot, and it isn’t good. I dress quickly, choosing something casual, faded denim jeans and a simple black shirt of cool Egyptian cotton.

    “Well then, I suppose we must,” I say, trying to sound light-hearted. I can see that Michael isn’t buying my act. I shrug, as if to say: At least I tried. “There’s some Jameson’s in the bar. Make us both a drink while I fetch Daniel from the shower. If I don’t, he’ll stay in there until he melts.”

    “Hold that thought,” Michael says. He steps over to the little wet-bar, places two glasses on the black marble surface. I’m surprised that he takes me up on my offer and pours us both a healthy amount of the Irish whiskey, mine on the rocks with a splash of water, his neat. He drinks his glass down and then refills it.

    “Something is wrong,” I say, eyeing him warily.

    Michael lets out a ragged sigh. “Oh yes. Very.”

    I’m seized by sudden fear. I don’t like this feeling, not one bit. “Daniel…I must see if he…”

    “Daniel’s gone,” Michael says, abrupt.

    “Gone?” Then I see it, the single feather lying near the foot of the bed. I pick it up. It’s one of Daniel’s, speckled with his amethyst-colored blood. Confused, I lash out at Michael: “If you’ve harmed him, Michael, I swear by all Unholy Hell, I’ll kill you!”

    Michael actually flinches. He flexes his shoulders, the fingers of his sword hand twitching.  “Holy shit, do you really think so little of me? I would never harm Daniel, would never lay a hand on him in anger!”

    “You wound him with your words!” I snarl.

    “And you wound him with your love!” Michael flings the words back at me, careless. It’s my turn to flinch. “Sorry,” he whispers, ashamed.

    “For what? It’s the truth.” I can feel my heart pounding. I drink down the whiskey. My hands shake. “Where is he, Michael?”

    Michael is silent for a while. I can hear his heartbeat.

    “The Dominion took him.”

    “Sahmodei...” I whisper Michael’s Name, begging him to take the words back.  I feel my heart seize with a cold dread. It feels like a thousand tiny needles of ice, piercing my body. My vision narrows; a strange taste, like copper, floods my mouth. I drop to my knees.

    “I’ve killed him.” It hits me, the enormity of it all, the realization that Daniel was stolen away from me, from the one place I was sure he was safe.  I want to die. I can barely breathe.

    Michael reaches for me.  “Don’t say that, Tiamadaeo! It’s not your fault…”

    I slap his hand away. “I slept while they took him, Michael. I fucking SLEPT! I heard him cry out for me and I DID NOT WAKE! NO! How could I let them take him?” I look at the feather in my hand and hold it to my face. I cannot hold back the lightning flash of my despair. I howl my rage and pain. “I’ve failed him! I swore I’d always protect him!” I reach for the barbed stiletto at my hip, ready to plunge it into my shattered heart. Michael moves with remarkable speed, grabs my wrist.  

    “No! You don’t get to run away from this, Lucifer! Not this time!” Michael is shaking hard. His face is deathly pale, except for two hectic spots of color on his cheeks. There’s an odd light in his eyes. I think he’s afraid. Seeing Michael like this only ramps up my panic.

    “They’ll kill him, you know they will! I cannot bear it! Not again!

    Michael seizes me by the shoulders and gives me a good, hard shake. “What is this nonsense? Enough of this self-pity...it’s beneath you!” He puts his face close to mine. “Have you forgotten who you are, Morningstar? You’re Lucifer, He Who Would Not Bow Down… so get up up off your fucking knees!” Michael yanks me up and pulls me into his arms, holds me close as I weep. There’s no judgment, no recriminations, just a surprising gentleness. When at last the sudden storm of my grief subsides, he takes me by the elbow, leads me to the large sofa, and helps me sit down. He presses a fresh glass of Jameson's into my palm and sits quietly beside me, one of his big hands resting softly on my shoulder, watching me as I gulp the whiskey.

    “Why?” I finally manage to spit the word out. “Why Daniel, Goddamnit? Why seize him, when I was right there for the taking? I can bear their cruelty, I have the strength! Daniel doesn’t!”

    Michael looks at me with surprise. “Why? Because he’s the Key, Lucifer. He can open the Great Seal. Daniel’s a Weaver; there’s great magic in his Songs. I thought you knew.”

    “What?” I can’t imagine Daniel being anything other than the sweet soul that he is, the Angel of Joy and Love, patron of music and everything good. It’s hard to picture him as the kind of powerful being Michael just described, Weaving ancient spells into his songs, making great and powerful Magic. Knowing now why the Dominion took Daniel, I can’t help but fear for him even more. I know what they’re capable of, what lengths they will go to, to make Daniel bend to their will, do their dark bidding.  There’s a quiet strength to Daniel, yes, but I know he won’t be able to withstand their cruelty.  They’ll do whatever it takes to get what they want, and what they want is painfully clear: they cannot get through the Great Seal, not without a Key. And that Key is Daniel. The Dominion are ruthlessly single-minded; I’ve heard tales of their rapaciousness. Locusts. It’s an apt description.

    I can’t stop thinking about what Daniel’s captors may be doing to him. All he’s ever known is love and joy, and now he’s held captive in a place and by a people completely devoid of either. I’m overcome with fury at their brazen actions. How DARE they?  

    “Those filthy whoresons! They’ve made a fatal mistake! NO ONE HURTS THE ONES I LOVE!” I spit out each word. I get to my feet and raise my arms.  Michael stands by in mute witness as I prepare a Weaving.

    I pour all of myself, all my fear and hate and love and rage into this singular act. This is me, at my most powerful, and the Spell I’m creating is like no other. This is great and dark Magic. I know I must be a sight to behold, terrifying and beautiful in all my Angelic glory. Standing with me is Michael, the penultimate warrior, bravest of the Host, whom the Fates made sure is present for the birth of this Spell. There isn’t anyone else who’s strong enough to endure the ordeal to come.  Even so, he’ll not come through the other side unscathed. Michael knows it, too. But he doesn’t hesitate, not for an instant, and prepares to perform his part of the ritual, a role that may require him to end my life.

    “Be Thou Blessed, Brother of my soul, upon whom my love rests. God grant Thee the strength to do what Thou wilt,” Michael says to me.

    “Grace Be With Thee, Brother of my soul, upon whom my love rests. God grant Thee the mercy to do what Thou must,” I respond.

    Michael slides the Sword of Righteousness from its scabbard and presses the tip to my throat. He will ask. I will answer. It’s up to Michael to determine if I’m truthful or not. If I fail the Test, he won’t hesitate to thrust his blade through my neck.

    Michael speaks the first of the Three Challenges:Lucifer, Dost Thou Know?”

    I answer true: “Aye, Brother.”

    Michael speaks the second Challenge: Lucifer, Dost Thou See?”

    Again: “Aye, Brother.”

    Now, the final Challenge, the most dangerous one: Lucifer, Dost Thou Have The Right?”

    I don’t hesitate: “AYE, Brother.”

    I pass the test.

    “Forgive me,” I say, and then I raise my left hand, point to him.

    Michael nods his assent.  “Draw whatever strength you need from me, but don’t falter, for both our sakes.”

    I begin ‘canting. “Hear me, people of the Dominion:  I am Lucifer Morningstar, Prince of Sorrows.  For every hurt you inflict on Daniel, may it be returned a thousand-fold.  Though you beg for mercy, I am not merciful.  I will burn you.  I will burn you all.  I will scorch your ugly hides, strip the flesh from your bodies, grind your bones to dust!  I will devour you one and all, and when I have had my fill of you, I will sick you up and consume you again and again! I glory in your pain, revel in your torment! You will suffer an eternity of sorrow!” The temperature in the room shoots up several degrees, and steam rises from our bodies. Still, I ‘cant on, unstoppable.

    “I will DESTROY YOU UTTERLY. Nothing shall remain of the Dominion, not so much as a speck of dust! It will be as if you never existed!” The glasses, the mirrors, everything fragile, shatter from the heat. Michael is staring at me, awestruck. “The Dominions’ only legacy will be a collective trauma so deep, so complete, that it will leave a permanent scar upon the racial memory of every creature, everywhere, on every world, in every Reality, for all of time everlasting! I SO SWEAR!”

    And then it’s done, the Weaving over, my spell cast forth into to Ether to do my bidding. I look at Michael, and wonder if he hurts as much as I do. That much anger, conjuring up magic that strong, it takes a lot of energy, leaves me feeling a little light-headed, and I lean on Michael for support.

    Michael smiles. “Now, that’s the Lucifer I know and love.” He gives me a sharp little nod. “Let’s put out the Call to the others, and go get Daniel.”

    “And save the world,” I add.

    “Of course, Brother, that too.


The Prince of Sorrows - Part One

This is not a children’s fable.  It’s definitely "NSFW", and would probably earn an “R” rating for violence, language, sexual situations and casual alcohol consumption.


The story stars Lucifer, and is based on the Sufi interpretation.  For those interested, just Google Sufism, specifically their take on Lucifer.  They do not consider him evil, rather see him as the embodiment of love and self-sacrifice.  As for the other angels in this story, they like to fight, drink, curse and engage in wanton carnality with abandon (translation: they don’t care if the object of their desire is Immortal or Human, good or bad, male or female, so long as they’re shaggable).  I have taken great liberties with all of Angelology; my angels are definitely NOT the do-gooders of popular mythology, and are anything but holy. In turn, Satan is an entirely separate entity from Lucifer; he is the absolute ruler of Hell, while Lucifer is his reluctant general manager.  You have been warned, my lovelies.


To quote Lucifer (who, in turn, is quoting Doc Holliday from his favorite movie, Tombstone):  “I have not yet begun to defile myself.”

Part Two | Part Three


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E. Peter Johnson
United States
Paramedic-instructor (ATLS & Tactical Medicine) retired United States Navy Hospital Corpsman (HM1), uppity & opinionated transgender gay man, member of Pink Pistols, LGBT activist, comic book nerd (Northstar YES!), lover of quirky humor and intelligent conversation.
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:iconhalothekittycat:
halothekittycat Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2016  Student General Artist
Neko Emoji-41 - (Kawaii Waving) [V3] Panda Emoji-31 (Hello) [V2] Hello 
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AshleyxBrooke Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
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