Thirty ThreeMature

They were back in the aircraft hangar. Kaleb jumped up and barked. Asmodeus ignored him so he barked again.

“Kaleb, we’re a bit busy right, I don’t have time. Why don’t you go home?” Kaleb growled. “You can’t come with us, I’m sorry. Go home to Abby. I probably won’t be long.” Kaleb barked. “I don’t know how I’ll cope without you either but I’m sure I’ll manage somehow. Now, go home.”

Kaleb sniffed but disappeared anyway.

“That dog is so stubborn,” muttered Asmodeus. He turned to Chelsea. “I take it Maria told you the plan. What do you think?”

Chelsea nodded. “I want to try.”

“Okay. I’m not sure how welcoming they’ll be, that’s why Maria and Dragon are coming with us, but laws are laws which means you’re allowed to appeal.”

“How do you know they haven’t changed the laws?” asked Maria.

Asmodeus went to a chest and knelt down to open it. “Because I know Gabriel. He likes nothing more than tradition.”

He pulled some things out of the chest and threw them to Maria and Dragon. He placed some things on the floor beside him. He pulled the lid closed and picked something up. He stood and pushed it into Chelsea’s palm.

“I hope you never need this,” he said before going back to pick up the things.

Chelsea looked at the object in her hand. It was a knife. She swallowed and looked at Asmodeus, who had a bow strapped across his back with a quiver. Strapped to his calves were twin daggers and at his side was a sword.

“Can I ask why you have that many weapons with you?” she asked.

“Because my position and society rely almost entirely on how well you are with a blade or bow,” he explained. “And I like to be prepared.”

“Asmodeus, what are we going to do if they do attack? There’s three of us and hundreds of thousands of them,” said Maria.

“Leave that to me. I’ve had odds stacked in their favour before, they get sloppy. Azrael and Michael are the only ones I’ve ever come across that mostly keep a level head.”

Asmodeus went to the wall and started drawing on it with the tip of his finger. Where his finger touched, a red mark appeared.

“How come you never taught us to Old Tongue?” asked Maria, slightly annoyed.

“You don’t need it. I taught you English for a reason.”

“And that reason is?”

“It makes your jobs easier.”

“I’d hardly call it a job,” she scoffed.

“Call it what you like, you chose it. I gave you all the option.” He finished writing on the wall and it faded. “Are we ready?”

They all nodded.

“Right, join hands,” said Asmodeus.

“Why?” asked Dragon.

“Will you just do it?”

They did so. Asmodeus took Chelsea’s hand and they were suddenly in a dark room.

“Where are we?” whispered Chelsea.

“Best you don’t know what this room is for,” whispered Asmodeus. “Or used to be. Stay here, I’ll be right back.”

He disappeared and the door opened, though no one came in. Quiet footsteps left the room and the door shut again, seemingly all by itself. Quiet talking came from outside the door. The door opened again, this time Asmodeus was there.

“Come on,” he said.

Chelsea walked hesitantly out of the room. She gasped at what she saw. Azrael was in a prison cell, kneeling in a pool of his own blood. It thickened underneath him and still dripped readily from his arms. He was shirtless and his tattoos were on full display. Across his chest were deep lacerations, surrounded by dried blood. His arms were chained to the corners of the cell, pulling him up. He was breathing heavily and his head was hung.

“Azrael?” Chelsea whispered cautiously.

He raised his head with great effort, revealing more slashes across his face.

“Chelsea,” he murmured.

The End

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