“What... What did they do to you?” she asked, scared of the answer.
“The question is, what haven’t they done to me?” His voice was flat and void of all emotion. “The crack of that whip just rings through my ears. It still feels as if the blades are cutting my skin. And what they did to my wings... What are you doing here?”
“I want to help you. Michael told me what happened,” she said.
“Michael’s dead,” said Azrael. “They killed him right in front of me. They made him suffer. It wasn’t fast, or painless. He lay there for hours until he stopped breathing. I couldn’t even protect my own brother, how did I ever expect to protect you?”
“You have protected me,” she insisted.
“No...” he trailed.
She knelt down and reached out to touch his face. He flinched away.
“Azrael, look at me,” she said firmly. He dragged his eyes to hers. His eyes were glowing bright yellow and for the first time, she saw the pain and suffering he’d gone through. “I’m going to get you out of here. I promise.”
“They’ll kill you too,” he said bluntly.
“I don’t care. If I can’t be with you, I don’t want to live. Think of our children. They’ll grow up without a father.”
“I don’t care about the children,” he hissed, letting emotion flow into his voice.
“Don’t say that. Even if you don’t, I do.”
Quick footsteps came their way.
“What are you doing in here?” asked an armoured guard.
Asmodeus grabbed him, held him in a headlock and held a knife to his throat.
“You touch her and I’ll slit your throat,” whispered Asmodeus in the guard’s ear.
“Asmodeus?” asked the guard.
Recognition sparked in Asmodeus’s eye. “Rex?” His grip on the guard lessened but he still didn’t let him go.
“What are you doing here?” asked Rex. “Gabriel wants to speak with Azrael. I’m sure he’d like to know you’re here.”
“Take us to him.”
“Rex, I swear, take us to Gabriel or I’ll kill you.”
“You’ll need to give me all of your weapons,” said Rex finally.
“No we don’t.”
“But it’s protocol.”
“You think I give a fuck?”
“This way then.” Rex sounded terrified of Asmodeus.
The Demon took the knife away from Rex’s throat and carefully watched him unlock Azrael’s cell and chains. He led them all through the twisting corridors until they reached a pair of massive double doors.
Rex pushed them open and shoved Azrael in before him. Asmodeus strolled in casually, as if he was meant to be there. Maria, Dragon and Chelsea scuttled in after him. Gabriel jumped to his feet in anger.
“What’s he doing here?” he bellowed.
“Hello, Gabriel,” said Asmodeus with a smirk on his face.
"What are you doing here?" Gabriel growled at him.
"Here? Nothing at the moment. Well, I'm talking to you, but I've not got a devious plan. I've only brought his girlfriend here so she can appeal on his behalf."
"What's in it for you?"
"Hopefully, your demise," Asmodeus replied simply. "Shall we get down to business?"
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't have you four executed too - including the mortal."
"How about this? You're no match for me, and neither are your guards and executioners."
"I'm stronger than you think," said Gabriel, seething.
Asmodeus chuckled. "Oh, Gabriel... We both know I'm right. For it is I that is the First, the Original, not you."
A murmur spread through the Angels in the hall. Chelsea didn't know what it meant, but it made Gabriel twitch.