Azazeal raced up the stairs behind Cassie but slowed to a walk as he passed through the corridor to her room. She was clearly frightened of his reaction now that he'd found her with their baby and he would only panic her further if he went charging blindly in. He yanked the door to her room open and stepped inside, pausing as he spotted Cassie huddled under a blanket on the floor.
Slightly shaken that she seemed so scared of him he spoke to her softly as he strode forward, 'Cassie, what are you doing? Why are you running away from me?' He bent and stripped the blanket away, astonished to see a pile of pillows rather than Cassie underneath it, and the tight hold he was keeping on his temper began to fray. Kicking the pillows and blankets away he noticed the markings inscribed on the floor surrounding him and the lit candles and his heart gave a lurch as he recognised the hexagram. He was amazed that he hadn't detected the powerful hex instantly but his agitation and grief at seeing Cassie running in fear from him with their child while Ella was in the vicinity was clearly impairing his perception. Azazeal was also impressed that even frightened as she was Cassie had been sharp enough to create the decoy.
'Cassie,' he said as he stood and turned around examining the hexagram, 'Cassie what is this?' She moved out of the shadows slightly and he saw how uncertain she was. 'Please. Come here,' he urged her, 'just let me hold you.' Cassie looked torn and he was certain that if he could just persuade her to come close enough everything would be fine. 'What's the matter, don't you trust me?' he asked her, letting the pain and disappointment of her betrayal show in his face. Cassie shifted, wavering, but just as she opened her mouth to answer him, Ella barged in through the doors, stepping instantly between them.
'Cassie stay where you are,' Ella instructed her, 'he can't hurt you.' Frustration surged through his veins as Ella interfered with his plans once again, and he couldn't control the anger in his voice and his expression as he pleaded with his lover, 'Cassie she's a sick girl; she needs help.'
'Cassie take the child and go to my room. Wait for me there,' Ella ordered. Cassie looked down at Malachi and then up towards them, still hesitating. 'Cassie,' Azazeal pleaded, his voice soft but urgent. 'Do it!' Ella's shout cut across his plea and Cassie was spurred into action. Once again clutching their child to her chest she fled from him.
With Cassie gone Azazeal turned his ire on his nemesis and looking down at the markings surrounding his feet he allowed the derision he felt to colour his words. 'Is this thing supposed to hold me?'
'It's drawn for Cassie. You know it will,' Ella smirked at him and allowing his rage to get the better of him he lunged towards his enemy only to be stopped dead by the force of the hexagram. He tested its strength for a long moment before giving in and allowing it to throw him onto his back. Ella tossed her head and gloated smugly.
Azazeal felt a surge of relief and elation flood through him but kept it from his face easily. No sense in warning the chit that there was a flaw in her hex; the more confident she was, the easier it would be for him to take advantage of any opportunities presented. Affecting desperation he shifted towards Ella, 'Listen. Listen. You can't really think she's going to let you kill the child. Our child'
'She'll do what's right,' Ella was confident, probably overconfident.
'Not this time. This time you're too late; the bond is too strong. She's mine body and soul,' he told her, certainty ringing in his voice. 'A perfect fit. You know how that feels don't you Ella?' he asked her slyly, watching her composure buckle as the girl swallowed hard and shook her head ever so slightly. 'No!' he thought she was talking about herself but then she continued, 'whatever hold you had over her is broken.'
Azazeal shook his head in sorrow, 'How little you know of life. Of her. Of me.' Ella gave him a disdainful mistrusting look before turning on her heel to stalk out.
For a brief moment anguish threatened to overwhelm him but he knew Ella had made a mistake in the hexagram somewhere. All he had to do was find it and he could break free, though it would tax a great deal of his strength to do so.
As he worked his way methodically around the intricate design his thoughts inevitably turned to Cassie. He felt, as always, a mixture of almost overpowering desire, affection and irritation for his lover, as well as an overwhelming urge to protect both her and their son. Though her stubborn independence, bravery and intelligence were a large part of the attraction he felt for her they were also proving a major source of annoyance and danger. A smile touched his lips, as he thought back to their night together. So much passion. She loved him, he was sure of it but she was also frightened of the changes he had caused in her life. Loathe though he was to admit it, possessing her to seduce her may not have been the ideal way to ensure her trust. Azazeal frowned; he had not meant to become so involved with Cassie, having learnt that lesson early on in his earthly career, but she was irresistible. Thus the pain he felt at her deception when he woke this morning to find her gone had been all too real. Azazeal was reminded powerfully of his last true love Herath; but this time it would be different. It already was different. His son had been born. He was alive and he would remain so he swore.
Azazeal surged upright flushed with success. It was a minor flaw and would take a great deal of power to breach. It would leave him free but weak for a time. Focussing his mind on his need to save Malachi and Cassie, Azazeal concentrated his power and forced the hexagram to give way before him.
His chest heaving with the exertion Azazeal forced his feet to move. Ella wouldn't waste any time, that he was sure of. He also knew exactly where she had taken them.
Ella was already intoning the words of the ritual and raising the knife of Orokiah over his son on the altar. Cassie was standing just in front of the altar, her pain and misery obvious.
'Cassie,' he called to his lover automatically, 'we don't want any part of this do we?' Cassie's face crumpled as Malachi's cries echoed through the church. Ella's voice continued the ritual, but still so weak from breaking the hex Cassie was his only hope.
'I never lied to you. I told you I loved you; it was true then and its true now. So is it wrong for me to love our son?' Azazeal moved down the aisle towards her and for once held nothing back. He poured everything he felt for them into his words and could only hope that it would be enough to sway Cassie to stop this madness. As Ella raised the knife in both hands above her head Azazeal knew that this was his last chance.
'Cassie!' he cried out to her one last desperate time and finally unable to stand the sight of her son screaming and about to be destroyed body and soul she dived forward to cover Malachi with her own body. Unable to stop her momentum Ella plunged the knife down into Cassie's back and Azazeal's eyes closed in agony. As she arched back and fell to the floor with a soft gasp his eyes followed the woman he loved. He wanted to go to her, to gather her into his arms and tell her that he loved her, that he was sorry, that he would protect their son come what may, to promise her that she would never be forgotten. But Ella, though paralysed for the moment by the tragedy she had unwittingly caused, would not remain so forever. Malachi's cries still rang out and as Cassie's body dispersed Azazeal stepped up to the altar and his son.
Ella stepped back a pace and stared at him in horror. 'You child,' he told her and he made no attempt to hide the grief and rage and absolute agony she had caused him, projecting it into her mind, 'how little you know of love. Of her. Of me.'
Gathering Malachi into his arms and holding his son closely as he walked out of the church Azazeal fought against the despair and tried his hardest to remember that he had achieved his purpose. His son was safely in his arms and soon he would be able to put the next stage of the plan to free his brethren into action. Tears rolled down his face as he kept walking, but he would harden his heart again and focus on revenge. Ella Dee would regret this day and he intended that she understand exactly what she had cost him.