Chapter 18 - Of Battles and Boxes

The angels retreated from the castle with a haste signifying the very flames of a rampant volcano behind them.  The Centaurs and the Harpies had driven them from the walls manic and boodthirsty, a tribute to the anger that they felt after discovering their beloved slain sovereign discarded and bleeding like a wild animal at the foot of the stairs at the rear of the castle. 

Zeus and Hera were somewhere among the pack and only Hades was left behind cowering like a whipped child as he was thrown at the feet of Belial in the Castles great hall.  The reputed leader of the netherworld, the groom of the iron queen was less than an embittered and chastened toddler before a blood soaked demon as the survivors of the first great battle encircled them, thirsty to witness Belials retribution.  The Centaurs and beat the floor slowly with claw and with with hoof ready for the fable falchion to fall upon the wretched neck of Hades.

Belial was tempted to present them with the act that they so desperately craved.  The rage and relief of battle and survival coursed through his veins like a strong firey dose of acid, booting his senses to the boiling point of inner eruption.  It would so easily be tempered by a sating of a long missed lust for battle and its bloody rewards.  Oh how Belial had missed seeing his foes fall before him, feeling his muscles take their place in history as they took the lives of the insignificant names that would be scoured from the history books.

Despite the calls and cries of the grieving sovereignless soldiers of the Netherworld there were eyes that told him a different story.  That of Hermione who had never been exposed to her fathers capacity for violence and cruelty; of Emmanuelle who must surely be feeling the acid erosion of lack of mercy as she grieve for her brother; of Persephone of whom had loved him and had mothered his daughter , and who's last thought was glazed for eternity in dead glass; and of Saracen who knew that Hades must be delivered to limbo so that faster tongues could strip him of what dignity he had left as he spilled information to the demons like the cowardly stuck pig he was to squeal like.  His intended mercy enraged him even further.

Hades felt Belials slap more than he had felt anything in his entire existence.  He felt his jaw unhook and snap.  His jaw was so badly broken he was unable to spit his teeth out and had to lean forward and let them drop pitifully to the blood stained stone floor beneath him.  As he heard Belial bellow the order to take him to limbo his relief was paramount and let himself be led away by the centaurs to mock and spit at him.

Belial left the hall and headed toward the study beckoning Emmanuelle and Balthazar.  With them came Hermione, Simon and Saracen.  As Simon closed the door behind them Belial let out a roar so ferocious that the shelves with books and scrolls shook beneath the weight of its anger.

'We have little time so first things first.  Who dragged this Seraphim here and which murky lake are we going to drown him in?'  Belial pointed a gnarled bloody finger at Simon trying to stab his eyes out with a look of the most torrential hatred.

'My name is Si...'

'I know your name and I care not for your intentions, I asked who brought you here.  What is more what courage do you have in you to dare think that I will entertain a single word that you will utter in that guttural biblical accent of yours.'

'Forgive me but...'

'Your kind will never be forgiven Simon leave this room for fear it become your tomb.'

'The fabled insolence of Belial.  I found one of those books for you and gave it to the other Seraphim amongst your little entourage.  Am I not also to believe you were of the very same order yourself?  Why would you be so different?'

Belial started to stride across the room to him when Saracen stood in his way and put a strong arm against his chest and forced him backwards.  For a few seconds a hateful glare was shared between Master and Lieutenant before Belial turned away gathering his thoughts.

'What a council we have.  A disgraced member of the fallen, two Seraphim turncoats, the usurping snake that tried to sell demonkind to Gabriel for a pint of my blood, a member of my order involved in the lawbreaking that inevitably led to my condemnation, and a young girl who knows nothing of war or our intentions.  So what must we do?'

Hermione stood forward and approached her father.  She touched his face and looked deep in to the raging whirlpool of thoughts through the glassy green eyes adorning his brooding pallid head.  She recognised some of the looks as her own, the missing part that helps her understand her reflection.  She smiled as she understood her own anger, another missing link.

'Father I would have much time for talking and debating and spending time with the man I should love were it not for the absence forced upon him, however I must express disgust at your thinking of me as a young girl.  I provide your cause with a poitical advantage do I not?'  Hermione spoke softly obviously accustomed to the ettiquette of the courtroom letting her eyes soften his.

'Political advantage how?'

The others in the room shifted nervously from one foot to the other unsure as to what was transpiring.  Saracen stepped back from his master and stood with a warriors strategy behind Simon.

'Without a queen this realm has no loyalty.  Being Persephones daughter I have affiliation with the creatures and civilians of the NEtherworld.  Maybe I am not as befitting the title of 'Iron Queen' as my mother was but if I could inherit the crown over the next few days I can provide your call for arms with an answer.  Surely you have seen the quality of Centaur and Harpy?'

Emmanuelle stepped forward.  She took a deep breath as she looked at Belial letting a solitary tear slide down her pale beautiful face.

'If my brother were here Belial he would say that Hermione is speaking with profound wisdom.  What would it take to have Hermione instated as queen of the realm?'  She looked at him with mournful determination.

'Why are we discussing the politics of this realm?  Have we not a trinket to find?'  Saracen put in.

'These three things must be dealt with immediately Demon.'  Simon offered rather tentativey looking at the size of the warrior he was challenging.

'Three things?  I counted two problems.'  Balthazar drawled and dropped his weight on a wooden stool by the desk.

'Hades.  His protection and transportation to Limbo.'  Simon answered simply.

Belial slammed a wooden shelf with the palm of his hand and cursed aloud.  He knew about the poitics of the realm he was in.  In the event of a new sovereign being required candidates would be required to present themselves an hour after the cremation of their predecessor, they would be made to speak and offer a single gift to the realm, followed by a list of actions that the realm would be expected to obey and finally a proclamation of loyalty to the realm and its allies.  It was long and drawn out, and he knew they had no time to stay and wait for this to occur.  Exhaling violently he turned around and faced his audience.

'Hermione you will stay behind with Balthazar and Simon.  Despite the snakes lack of spine he has an unmatched power of words.  Your gift to the realm will for them to decide on Hades fate after he has been questioned by our demons.  Their actions will be simple, they will be asked to be ready for arms and you will count the Demons among your allies.  Saracen and Hermione you have business with me.  We have the tools needed to find our way to Pandoras box, and I would appreciate a harpy and Centaur escort to stand outside the catacombs ready to stop any Angels attempting to follow us in.'  Belial exhaled again.

'The Harpies can help more than just by defending the door, with a smile from me they will carry you there in less than two hours journey.'  Hermione smiled that harpy melting smile to melt her father.

The End

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