A/N: Taking a break from bloody packing. If I see one more box I will burn this whole place down. I had to post this up. I irritated myself by leaving the last chapter with so much angst. Unedited. Maybe will edit when I have time (and sleep) but here it is, quickly typed up (because I was irate with somebody as well and wishing ill will upon them at this hour - it's 1.30am local time now) to tease you on what will happen next (and irate you my dear readers in return). Forever and always dedicated to my muse, ToktelasAndTea. I'm off to read her latest chapter on Wings of Steam. Pure steampunk fic, so much in love with it. Much love to the new followers of Daemons and Angeluses and thank you for reviews. I know I don't reply as much as I used to but I do appreciate them. Your questions usually trigger a bunny, so please feel free to point out something that might be out of place. You see, I have too many bunnies staying up all night humping out new stories in my head so I might've missed something crucial that needed explanation. Stay tuned to the edges of your seats with claws on because the chapters coming up following this one would be the death of your sanity. That is a promise. Oh and disclaimed.


Chapter 17: Hearts Do Not Heal Easy


Kingdom of Heaven
Child of Light, 15th Year of Birth

"Leave me be, Archangel Michael," Ritsu whispered. He had his back turned to the newcomer into his chambers as his empty gaze looked out the window, towards the dark sky, seeing something no one else could see.

"I cannot do so, Light of God," Michael began, "Your safety is uppermost priority,"

"Stop calling me that! I am no Light of God! I am just me, I am Ritsu Onodera! Just Ritsu, a normal boy, nothing more!" Ritsu burst, "nothing more…"

"You don't underst– " Michael tried again, a hand upon the young boy's shoulder.

"Leave me be! Please!" Ritsu shrieked, swiping the hand away as though it had burnt him, "and don't touch me!"

In truth, it did. Michael's simple touch of reassurance actually did leave its mark on Ritsu's shoulder. After Michael left him in his borrowed chambers, he quickly lifted his tunic and inspected the now blackened handprint on his delicate skin. Sighing, he pulled the hem of his tunic down. His human clothes had been discarded and burnt, in case hellhounds could track him because he had 'copulated' with the son of Satan. Just thinking of the way the archangels worded his actions with so much spite made it sound dirty and blasphemous. He sighed for the umpteenth time, an irritation had grown in the corner of his mind, an itch he could not scratch.

In replacement of his clothes, however, was a simple white tunic with elbow-length sleeves; and simple white pants that fitted his slender curves perfectly. Like the occupants of this place, he was barefooted, save a silver anklet around his right ankle. He suspected it was akin to an ankle alarm, in case he decided to run off. Where? I'm in the middle of the sky for crying out loud… Ritsu tsk-ed, rolling his eyes upwards at his own sarcasm. This bite into everything seemed to dull the nightmare that seemed all too real and the very pain he was trying hard to suppress.

The pain in his heart, squeezing the very breath out of him, was the realest of it all. He stared up now at the dark sky, into the beauty of the moon's light, lost in thought, lost in memories. All he could think about was the beautiful dark angel he had seen, turned into a beast before his very eyes. All he could think about was the whisper in his ears when the archangel Michael had held him tight to his chest and forced him to look. Look. Look at the beast you fell in love with. Look! The son of Satan himself, out to corrupt you, eat your soul, and yet you fight us? You deny what you see with your own eyes? You defend the very beast of hell? Look! See who he is for what he is! Nothing but a murderous beast!

His shock was so profound that out of fear, he had asked the archangel to take him away. His mind was a tumultuous chaos of denials and truths. How was he the Light of God? He was but a simple minded boy who - only a few hours ago - was in the arms of the boy he loved? How did he get from that to here? Had he imagined the angels? Had he imagined his ascend to Heaven? Was he in a nightmare he could not wake up from? Had he imagined the beautiful creature with the dark wings and dark flowing hair? That when the moonlight struck his features, he looked serene yet dignified? That his breath caught in his throat at this ungodly beauty? Had he imagined the creature with the face of his lover morphing into a gruesome dragon-like animal? That his very face contorted into scales and horns and fangs and hellish burning eyes? That his very skin bore crimson markings snaking its way all around him at his transformation?

Had he imagined, worst of all, the shock in his face, the guilt, and the sorrow, the truth in his eyes, as he caught Ritsu taking an inadvertent step back? The creature stopped then, looked at him, looked him in the eye and he knew, he knew without a shadow of a doubt that his lover was this very creature sent to destroy him. The archangels were not lying to him. He had denied them and they had presented him with the truth, seen by his own eyes. Why then, if he had not imagined all that; why then, with the truth staring him in the face; why then could he not believe that his lover – the boy he secretly loved for years – was the one destined to destroy him in the end? Why couldn't he believe it? Why couldn't he believe that his true destiny in this world was to rid the universe of all Luciferians? Why, now that he thought about it, did it sound so preposterous? Was this some elaborate scheme to drive him crazy? Send him to the nuthouse? Did he have a bolt gone loose in his head? And despite all these questions, his mind turned to but only one person...

"I need to hear from his own mouth…" Ritsu whispered, his eyes transfixed into the dark sky, "I need to hear the truth from him…"

"The truth, my child, will hurt you and you might not recover from it,"

Ritsu whisked around quickly at the soft voice behind him. He was caught up in his own world that he did not realize he had another visitor. The angel was beautiful; golden hair tumbled down her back in soft waves, cerulean orbs stared at him, a masked pain poorly concealed in their depths, a truth in her eyes Ritsu wasn't sure he wanted to know. The angel walked up to his bed and sat down, patting the space beside her, beckoning him to her. Reluctantly, Ritsu left his post by the window and sat, keeping his head down and his eyes away from her.

"I am called Gabriel, angel of strength," the angel introduced herself, "You are the Light of God,"

"Why does everyone keep calling me that? I am in this twisted nightmare where angels and demons are fighting each other, my lover is the prince of hell and I am the savior of mankind! Somebody please wake me up!" Ritsu groused, jumping off the bed. He began pacing in front of the angel, annoyed with himself, annoyed with her, annoyed with everybody.

"Let me show you the truth, Ritsu," Gabriel offered, again patting the space next to her. Her voice had a slight haunting melody to it, as though Ritsu was being hypnotized into doing her bidding.

With much reluctance, Ritsu returned to perch on the edge of the bed, wary of this beautiful creature who called herself one of the seven archangels of the Kingdom of Heaven. Gabriel smiled; her voice had its uses and hypnosis was just one of them. She leaned forward and placed a palm on his forehead.

Ritsu blacked out in pain as Gabriel's smile widened. Hypnosis indeed. She would alter the Light of God's memories to hate his lover. Forever more.


Kingdom of Infernus
Child of Darkness; 18th Year of Birth.

"FATHER!"

With a gust of strong wind, Masamune dropped on his left knee by force of his landing. His panic was overpowering. Folding his massive wings behind him, he stood up, his sister held tightly in his arms. Her soul was still lodged in her throat and the only thing that was holding it there was the blasted holy stake; wedged through the soft membrane of light that was slowly but surely dimming. He was received by the ministers who were about to leave through the portal of Mother Earth to aid him against the angels. A change of plans was imminent; pursuit could wait a millennium longer. Their priestess was dying.

"Here, quickly child!" Lucifer barked, stomping his hoof onto the ground beneath him, breaking open a second portal just as the first one closed behind him. Masamune flew towards his Father and together they dropped into the portal, transporting them to the forsaken gates of Hell, the Ignem Aeternum, [1] the lava source of Infernus.

Masamune placed his sister on top of a marble pedestal, large enough to contain a body or two and rested her human body side by side her immortal one. He saw the difference immediately. The human body was slowly burning up as it was not built to withstand Hell's ferocious heat waves but her immortal one stayed serene and at peace. He could feel a clawed hand on his shoulder, pricking his flesh but not hurting him and he looked up, as Lucifer in his beastly form was tall even for Masamune's own beastly height. The prince, understanding what he must do, withdrew and hurried to his position in the inner circle.

"Mortem, Passio," Masamune called, holding both his hands out in front of him. Immediately his ring – the very ones his Father had given him and his sister before they descended Earth; bound to their souls and appeared on their ring fingers the minute their souls left their human shells – glowed red. The insignia, the crest of the Devil, the forked horns around the inverted pentagram carved into a circular sphere appeared and morphed into a raven. Two in fact, as Masamune had taken hold of his sister's ring on his other hand.

With a dignified squawked, the ravens left the perch of Masamune's hands and flew above their heads, their ruby eyes glowing red, before returning to their rightful masters, morphing into the heathenish Infernus robes – made from Lucifer's own shorn wings – encasing the demon children in its pulsating warmth. Masamune nodded to his Father and pulled the hood over his head.

Taking a deep breath, he found his epicenter, his quiet calm, his foundation. Closing his eyes, letting the burden and panic of the last few hours slip off his shoulders, Masamune began to chant the Fallen Hymn. In it, he laced a different strain of spells, of healing and of rest, of sleep and of purification. His chants were picked up by the Imperials stationed on his left and right; as well as the lesser priests of the Black Church standing in the outer circle.

As the Fallen Hymn made its powers known, and as the spells began to work its intricate magic on repairing his daughter's broken soul, Lucifer raised his right forefinger, his claw elongating to such an extent, sharpening to needle point. He closed his one eye and breathed in the sulfuric air around him. When he opened his seeing eye again, he positioned his clawed forefinger over the holy stake the angels had cruelly rammed into his daughter's throat and quickly cut precise incisions around it; freeing first the three damned souls that floated above the human body but not away from it.

As the skin around the human throat slipped off bones and sinew, Lucifer could see the extent of the damage caused by the stake. His daughter's soul, now glowing red and black alternately, was burnt down the middle, through its heart. It was pulsating weakly; its life was dimming. The angel that did this was precise in his attack and he knew without a doubt who had done it. Revenge will have to wait. Now, now he needed all his concentration on this delicate procedure. He must save his daughter...

"Masamune, come,"

After slicing another incision above the heart of his daughter's immortal body, enough to expose the quiet unmoving muscle inside it; Lucifer gripped the holy stake, infecting its purity with his tainted hands. When the stake began to quiver in protest, he nodded to his son who he had tasked to place Raiu's ring into the gaping wound in her soul. The ring would bind her soul to it – just as it had done eighteen years ago – and he would physically move it to the opened heart of her immortal body. Hoping against all hope that they would be able to save her by forcing life into her immortal body.

"I'm ready, Father," Masamune whispered. The chants around him grew louder, lending him the strength he needed to shield his sister. It was his turn to protect and heal her; the way she had done for him centuries on end after wars.

With a roar, the devil Lucifer gripped the holy stake tighter, burning his own hand as the stake protested the blasphemous touch and pulled with all his might, and as quickly as he could. Masamune, connecting with his comatose sister through a mental link he had forcibly bridged, shouldered all the pain. He could feel all of the raw burning of the holy stake on her soul, amplified in magnitude as though it was burning his very own along with it. He could feel the ripping of his sister's soul as the stake burnt as much of what was left of her as it left her body, leaving her in tattered pieces. He could feel tears of blood staining his cheeks as he gritted his teeth, shouldered the pain and worded the sealing chant to bind her soul into the ring.

"Now, Masamune, she doesn't have time," his Father ordered, as he dropped the stake onto unholy ground, smashing it to smithereens, effectively dissolving it into nothingness.

Masamune removed the ring now containing his sister's brittle soul and placed it into the heart of her immortal body. Lucifer returned to the marble pedestal, slightly limping as the stake he had stomped over had scorched his hoof. Holding his son's palm above his daughter's heart, Father and son closed their eyes. The chanting in the room changed, the Fallen Hymn had returned to its haunting healing tune, no longer the aggressive tune sung a few moments ago as they fought to keep the priestess's soul alive.

In a beautiful voice, Lucifer chanted a healing and protection spell, intricately spun into the Fallen Hymn. Masamune followed suit, allowing his voice to raise an octave higher than his Father's. With both voices singing in synchronization and in utter harmony, a bright blue light appeared under their palms, above the Priestess's heart; sealing the incision and putting to rest her battered soul.

"Vir fortis ac sapiens, Draco Draco, nihil oculi effugere
Citatus a latebris Raiu puer, curae vestrae
Fili in tua damna fieri non permittit, in conspectu tuo omnis fuga mali
Natum mixtave carnis et spiritus, nec filius meus, ut ad illa tangere
Quae eam iniuriam illi, per arma Infernus occidentur" [2]

"We have done all we can, my Lords. It be best to transport Her Royal Priestess back to Pandaemonium Castle. We will look after the rest of the sentinels. When they are all healed and rested, we would convene at the earliest convenience and pursue our war against Heaven," Lord Beelzebub suggested, swaying a little.

Pausing to wipe the bloody sweat that dotted their foreheads, the Imperials – after using up much of their healing energy to aid their royal daughter – gathered in a circle around the pedestal. The human body had long since perished into dust, leaving in its wake the original form of the Priestess, still slightly blue around the lips and deathly cold. She was not out of Death's grip yet. Masamune had locked her soul within his, keeping her alive, akin to a life support machine and Death was simply waiting by her doorsteps; ready to pick her up when she succumbed to complete darkness or to come and collect her another day. She had suffered a mortal wound that would scar her for eternity if she awoke from her slumber.

"I agree. Rest, my calculations suggests that something bigger is coming our way soon. We need to recuperate," Lucifer reluctantly agreed, "I leave the sentinels to you, my lords,"

Clasping his son by the shoulder and returning his daughter into an open casket made of healing stones, Lucifer nodded his departure and stomped his good hoof onto the ground; breaking open a portal ringed in blue fire. It was the entrance to Pandaemonium Castle. His imperials and priests bowed low as Lucifer exited the Ignem Aeternum, his son by his side, his daughter floating before them. Once the portal closed behind their King, the Imperials ushered the lesser priests out of the chambers as they worked to heal the remaining three sentinels; returning them to their sleeping immortal warrior forms.

"My brothers, something has moved the cosmic balance of our world," Beelzebub began, as they finished the last rites. Their warriors were now safely entombed in their caskets, ready to be transported home.

"Aye, Beelzebub, I sense it too. I would be remiss if I said our Lord Lucifer does not sense it as well," Leviathan answered. "He above all of us, knows the workings of the universe best,"

"He knows it, but because both children are healing; one from physical wounds I care not to speak of for I fear I might kill the very angel who had done it, and another, a wound deeper than any magic can heal," Asmodeus reiterated.

"Fates had our asses handed to us this time, brothers," Astaroth groused angrily, clenching his fingers into a fist, his eyes glowing red, "We need a plan. The prophecy had foretold that our Prince would either be our salvation or our destruction. How we handle the matter now would decide which side he would fall into,"

"With our Lady Raiu out of commission, and I wager it would be awhile, we're in deep trouble. Our Prince has a temper rivaling Lord Lucifer. He would be destructive without her. Betrayal is something not to be trifled with for a child who feels too much of everything. He would be out for blood soon. With her soul attached to his, his powers might end up injuring her," Behemoth added, nodding in his agreement to the situation at hand.

"We need to find a way to revive Lady Raiu, her soul is much too battered, much too damage in this condition," Belial added, "We need to hunt dear brothers, a soul for her soul, a soul strong enough to sustain her healing,"

"We need the life force of an angel, not an archangel, but one attached to an archangel," Beelzebub concluded, "Gabriel's warrior angel will do. I hear she's pretty dainty but fearsome in battle. What say you brothers? An archangel blood will kill our Lady, but I believe, the soul of a warrior angel, a lesser angel will sustain her life,"

"Vinculum est verbum meum. Meum est enim sanguis meus novi consensus," [3] the circle of Imperials raised their right fists and placed them above their hearts, settling the matter. They looked forward to speaking to their King upon their return and after every beast of the Underworld was well rested for the next tidal wave.

Chanting an ancient rune spell, they opened a similar portal ringed with blue flames, another entrance into Pandaemonium Castle. Ushering the lesser priests who escorted the caskets of the warriors to precede them, the Imperials casted their last gazes towards Ignem Aeternum, ensuring that their intricate spider webs remained intact and securing the location of the Eternal Fire of Hell from eavesdroppers of Heaven.


Latin (rough) translations:

[1]
The Eternal Fire

[2]
Dragon brave and dragon wise, let nothing escape your eyes
I summon you from your hidden lair, my child Raiu, entrusted to your care
Permit no harm to come to my child within your sight,
In your presence let all harm take flight
No baneful creature born of flesh or spirit, may touch my child nor come near her
Let those that would bring her harm, be put to death by arms of Infernus

[3]
My bond is my word. My consent is my blood.