Thirty SixMature

A young woman in her early twenties walked in, holding a pile of washcloths. She first noticed Chelsea, then the others, and finally Azrael.

"Are you alright, my Lord?" she exclaimed, rushing to his side.

"That's a bit of a silly question, Clarissa," Azrael whispered hoarsely.

"Apologies, my Lord. Mary! Mary!" Clarissa shouted as Azrael passed out. Another young girl ran into the room. "Get a bucket of water. Quickly!"

Clarissa tore up one of the cloths in the pile next to her. The other girl, Mary, hurried to Clarissa with the water. Chelsea watched - confused and grateful. Clarissa and Mary soaked the strips of fabric and used them to dab at the blood on Azrael's skin.

"What on Earth is going on?" shouted a voice. A few men and women came through a door and gasped.

Clarissa glared at them briefly. "Don't just stand there! See to our guests! Now!" Her voice commanded authority and they obeyed her without question.

They spurred into action. Asmodeus, Maria and Dragon let themselves be herded out of the room while Chelsea went to Azrael's side. She helped the two women wash him. Azrael stayed unconscious the whole time.

Finally they were done. The water was red but Azrael's wounds had stopped bleeding for the time being. Clarissa and Mary took  the water and dirt rags away, leaving Chelsea alone with Azrael.

There was a growling coming from behind Chelsea. She turned her head slowly. Her throat tightened at what she saw: a vicious tiger, baring its teeth at her and growling.

"Azura," whispered Azrael.

The tiger stopped growling and walked cautiously towards Chelsea. The tiger sniffed her and turned to Azrael. It licked his nose and jumped up to lie next to him.

"Good girl," he whispered, his eyes still closed.

"You have a pet tiger?" asked Chelsea quietly, sure she was imagining things.


"Three? Okay."

Azrael opened his eyes and touched Chelsea's cheek with the hand Azura wasn't lying on. Chelsea held his hand to her heart.

"My Lord?" asked Clarissa from the door that seemed to be used to most.

"Yes, Clarissa?" Azrael replied.

"Michael won't be coming home tonight, will he?"

"No, Michael won't be coming home. Not ever again."

"We were all very fond of him."

Clarissa blinked a few times, as if holding back tears, and left.

"'My Lord'?" Chelsea asked quizically.

Azrael scowled. "Ex-Lord. I've been stripped of all my titles."

Chelsea squeezed his hand gently. His eyes closed and he sighed.

"Despite the circumstances, it's nice to be home. Can you tell Clarissa to make some of the guest bedrooms?" he asked. Chelsea nodded. "And tell her I've gone up. Thank you for everything, Chelsea."

Azrael patted the tiger which got up and followed him up the large staircase. Chelsea went through the door and found the girl she recognised as Clarissa. She passed on the information and sat at the large table with Asmodeus and the others.

Chelsea noticed how everyone surrounding her had light hair, except for the three in front of her. Asmodeus was fiddling with a small dagger, as if trying to decide something.

"I'll be back soon," he said, getting up before he could change his mind.

He left the room and they heard the front door open and close again.

The End

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