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Ange Noir II First Chapter Teaser



Published by Azariya Ferall


© 2020 Azariya Ferall


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or modified in any form, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.



Dearest Feralls, due to the long wait I decided to release this Beta copy of the first chapter to temporarily satiate my fans’ lusty hunger. You have been so very patient with me and I hope this teaser instills excitement for the second book! With that said enjoy this little taste and stay tuned for the completed second novella coming soon!

With Love and Lust,

Ms. Ferall

 




CHAPTER I





Then, silence accompanied by a darkness heavy with dread consumed him. Not even a shimmer of light existed within its confines. Devoid of any sensation, he remained suspended in a void made of nothingness. When his fingers rubbed against each other, desperate to feel some semblance of flesh, he felt nothing. Amidst this extreme sense of numbness, he was certain that this was not death or anything close to. In fact, death would have been a much more pleasant experience than this. Or so he thought in that moment. All things that made a conscious being a thing made of flesh did not, nay, could not, exist here. Only he, his consciousness and his fragmented memories lived. Memories he clung to desperately as a means to keep from going mad. Even the recent memories, with their morbid details, he ruminated on; as this was the only way to maintain his identity before he too became a part of this expanding void and deleted from existence. He played the memories repeatedly in his mind’s eye until he was able to trick his mind into a new reality. One where he could relive life before this banishment through memory alone.


The vibrant greens of the lush Oak trees and the thick forest blanketed in dancing fog, the first of his clearest memory. With just enough focus he was able to remember the smell of rain seeping into the woodlands and how much he enjoyed the fragrance. Or the harvest moon, and how it loomed overhead in the dark plum sky. None of these things, however, compared to the majesty of his true home. The world beyond the mortal one that remained untouched by man. But hidden gems existed within the mortal plane. Especially when the veil was at its thinnest. Hidden gems like the small fits of magic that would secretly blossom within the mortal plane. Fea creatures that lived on the belief of the smaller mortals he knew to be called children. How the Fea races would roam freely at the darkest point of night, unafraid of the tyranny of man. Or the woodland nymphs who frolicked without shame among the dense trees, free of the stifling man made morals and ethics. Forever enjoying the physical pleasures of existence. He then remembered his most memorable snowfall, how it blanketed the Earth and turned the land into a blank white canvas. Then a deep vermillion cape adorned with gold threading clashed against the void of snowy whiteness. He ventured closer as the caped figure treaded into the tree line with caution. Cloaked by the veil of magic that hid him from the eyes of man, Asmodeus carelessly stood but a few feet from this person so bold enough to step into the woods where he was fabled to dwell within. A look of determination possessed what he could tell was a beautiful face. Her long red robes clung to curves he had yet to see on the women native to these lands. She stopped at the center of the forest where the energy felt dense and potent.


“Asmodeus.” She whispered to the trees. He remembered watching from afar. Her loose black curls draped down to the mid of her back, partly veiling her eyes which were a striking gold, much like honey. In contrast to her near obsidian skin, her eyes looked like vibrant jewels with shimmering speckles of green and brown. A round nose with a gentle spread and plump lips decorated a lean but beautiful face. Asmodeus knew her to be descendant of the Moors as she did not look native to the lands. Again, she spoke his name, only this time with more confidence. It boomed from her diaphragm like an angry command and Asmodeus could only chuckle to himself at how amusing this was to him. Someone so fragile looking couldn’t possibly be this bold, yet there she stood with no fear in her heart. He remained silent as he allowed himself to close the space between them. Now standing a step or two away, he faced her, knowing she with her human eyes could not see him. Bending the vibrations around him and his world he remained hidden as he allowed himself to watch with intent curiosity. Despite sensing her strong will, a twinge of sadness and desperation were evident in her eyes. Red and moist, her eyes appeared to have shed a few tears just moments prior.


“Show yourself demon! I know you are here!” She spoke in a foreign accent. She can sense me? I’m impressed. Asmodeus smirked.


“Is it the blood of the innocent you seek?! Will that lure you out!” The Moor ripped a blade from her bodice and sliced through the fleshiest part of her hand. Blood pooled into her palm and trickled onto the powdery white snow. Asmodeus’s brow arched as if observing a small but amusing new specimen. He chuckled and moved to a cluster of trees with slow strides. Their limbs, branches and trunks wove together to form a space perfect for a natural throne. There he sat and waited for a few moments, watching his new visitor continue to demand he make himself known and hear her plea. He nearly decided to ignore this pesty human so that he can return to his plane, but something compelled him otherwise. Her strength ceased to just amuse him and instead sparked a curiosity. Many girls had come to this place seeking cheap thrills to gossip to the deprived wives in the nearing village. The stories of his infamy attracted naïve lasses who barely cross the threshold into womanhood. They spoke of him at night to scare and excite the fairest of maidens who lived in the villages nearby. All who came to seek him out had little to nothing that moved him in anyway. However, this Moor, this stranger to these lands with its bitter winters and furtive forests, ignited a small spark that he hadn’t felt in centuries. A spark that lived within, long before the lie of the Christian God plagued the land and weakened mankind’s link to the metaphysical and all natural things. The Moor refused to back down to his surprise. Even as the sun began to set in the distance. The darkness of these lands were fabled to be cursed, yet this did not cause her to falter one bit. Finger tips touched at his chin in thought and he finally spoke. His voice deep, powerful, but soft like a dreamy sigh, echoed through the woods like distant low thunder.


“Either you are brave to trespass here making demands. Or you are a fool. Which one do you believe best suits you?” The woman fumbled. Looking around to see where the source of the voice came from. Failing to realize the one she seek sat just a few feet away from her.


“Show yourself demon!” She roared.


“Now that is just rude.” Asmodeus scoffed. His aloof demeanor only angered her and hot tears fell from her eyes.


“I am willing to challenge you! If I can best you in battle then I demand you abide by my terms.”


This piqued his interest. No man has challenged him in nearly a century, let alone a woman. A cocky smirk cracked the usual somber expression on his face and Asmodeus stood from his self-appointed throne. Bending the vibrations around him, Asmodeus stepped from his world into theirs. The Moor watched as reality bent and shattered to make way for his being to come into this plane of existence. She stumbled backwards, not expecting to see a man whose beauty exceeded anything she ever witnessed. The tales of Asmodeus, Demon King of lust and power, did not do him justice. Instead, men warned the women native to the nearby village of the creature of lust from the deepest part of the wood. How he sought out the blood of virgins. Be it through sacrifice or through forceful entry into their untouched feminine flower. How this demon turned virtuous women into wanton whores for the Devil to consume and righteous men into insatiable lust driven animals. Godless and immoral. How he was the embodiment of blasphemous creation. The ugliest and foulest of things according to the priests and men of supposed virtue. Instead, what stood before her was what appeared to be one of mother nature’s most faultless designs. A true testament of the Earth at its purest and rawest form. Jet black hair fell to his pale shoulders partly veiling his fine features. A sharp nose, lean lips that possessed a slight curl as if he wore a permanent satisfied smirk and silver eyes adorned his face. Skin so pale that it nearly blended with the wintered land, were left exposed and unclothed. Then her eyes traveled down to what hardly looked like the tool of any human man. Her tremoring jaw hung low. He chuckled.


“What? Do mortal men not possess such things?” He said with a snide smirk. She failed to speak. Still overwhelmed by his presence. Nothing she was taught about this creature came across as true. Asmodeus advanced to the stunned Moor. His larger frame becoming more evident as he closed the space between them. She was taller than the other women. Though the robes she wore belonged to the nearing culture, the jewels that dressed her did not. Without another word he grabbed her chin, moved her face gently to the left, then right. Tribal scarring etched into her glowing unblemished dark skin. Interesting. He thought.


“What of this challenge you speak?” He turned loose her chin with a lazy flick of his risk. In a defiant gesture she wiped at her face as if his hands bore filth. The Moor straightened her posture, maintaining her composure and spoke,


“I wish to challenge you in battle. If I best you in combat, I demand you meet my terms.”


“And that would be?” A boyish smirk grew on his face and a twinge of longing grasped at the Moor’s heart. However, she would not be swayed by the charms of Lucifer’s many children. When she came to these lands, she had made an oath to serve and worship only the Christian God as her betrothed demanded. Having been forcibly given to the wealthy merchant who possessed a lewd obsession with the Moorish women from lands he traded with, she had no choice but to convert. Somehow, through the trauma of having her culture stripped from her, she managed to find a glimmer of faith in the one they called Jesus. Nightly she spoke her prayers to his father. Begging and pleading that he bless her with a child. Least she be discarded with no means of returning to the golden hills and crisp oasis that made up the deserts of her homeland. Or the densely forested tropical lands with their many exotic animals. Or the nightly gatherings of women whom bore her image, singing songs older than time itself. And most of all the beaches she spent many blistering days swimming in. She missed these things deeply and cursed her father for having sold her to the men from northern isles who did not respect their culture nor her. Men who secretly thought her to be a creature from the bowels of hell. As her dark skin symbolized something charred and damned. However, one among these men found her beautiful in his own way. Yet, his infatuation with her was no different than the ever-wavering attention span of a child enamored by a shiny new thing. She found that at the slightest misstep he would soon discard her without a second glance. Love as she knew it to be did not exist in their union. As a result of such, she found herself amidst the trees willing to risk life and limb to make a deal with a much-feared demon to preserve herself.


“They say you can bestow the blessing of fertility…” She began.


“Yes. But only in men.” Replied Asmodeus.


“I know this. As that is why I am here. My husband, Arthur Stowe, he wants a son. A child to carry on his name. It has been a number of years and I am still without child…”

Asmodeus pulled his brow into a prominent arch and started to part his lips, tasting the sarcasm on his tongue. The Moor stopped him before he could spew any comments she was unwilling to hear.

“My mother before me has birthed five sons and three daughters. I know it is not I who… Well….”


“He is failing as a man...” Asmodeus said with a wicked grin and his eyes glowed. The Moor’s face grimaced with discomfort as her arms found themselves wrapping around her curvaceous frame. Her golden eyes averted his, with their shimmering silver color. In her attempt to avoid the anxious feeling of maintaining eye contact, her eyes fell downward only to gaze upon his masculine tool again. She bit at her lip and a shuddering breath left her. Asmodeus leaned forward to close the already restricted space between them. “…In more ways than one it would seem…” The Moor cleared her throat and took a sharp step back.


“Do not get any ideas, Asmodeus. I am a woman of God.” She boasted. Amusement smeared across Asmodeus’s face before the inevitable scoff.


“No, you are not. You are a warrior. Well, you were any way.” His words struck a nerve in the Moor. This became evident in her jaw that visibly flexed under the skin. He turned from her and started to leave her alone amongst the bitter winter and barren trees. A warm hand grabbed at his forearm with surprising strength. He leered over his shoulder at her. His silver eyes now set aglow. The Moor found her courage somewhere deep within, stiffened her spine and said,


“I am still a warrior. It is in my blood. Accept my challenge, Asmodeus, King of Lust and Power. If you win, I will be reunited with my mother and sister. If I win you will aid my husband in his ability to sire a child. Either way the outcome will be in my favor.” A deep sadness weighed heavily on her words. Asmodeus’s eyes dimmed and to her shock she saw compassion in the creature’s eyes. He faced her to take her oddly delicate hand in his. The Moors eyes furrowed as she did not expect such a gentle touch from a creature renowned to be bestial and feared by many. Asmodeus closed his eyes for a moment before slowly opening them again.


“I accept, Aurya.” He smiled.


“How do you kn-“


“I know many things. Things they tell you aren’t real.” He purred. He turned her hand away and stepped back. His movements communicating that he was readying himself for a battle. Power and strength evident in his slow strides. The dominant hand summoned his claymore to his aid. It materialized from the collective energy of nature and fitted in his grasp. Asmodeus gave the blade a few practice swings with grace not common among the oafish village men. He crouched like an apex predator waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Raven locks draping over his face, Aurya now saw the feral beast within that the men from these lands feared most. Those silver eyes shimmered behind his locks and in them she felt something ancient and filled with virility. Like looking into the natural state of all earthly things. An energy that existed long ago in these very woods. Fear should have clutched its spindly fingers around her heart but instead she felt energized. For the first time in many moons Aurya felt present in the moment and alive. Her slender hand found the blade forged by her great matriarchal ancestors; Prospects of the goddess known as Oya. The songs of her former tribe filled her head as she raised the sword high above her head. An art she sworn had been lost to her, now came and flowed naturally as if etched on her spirit forever. She moved with a dancer’s grace as she summoned the strength to face her foe. And in that moment, she forgot the name of the Christian God who had been forced upon her from young. Only to be replaced by the name of the Goddess her ancestors sung of for generations. Aurya became lost to it, possessed by it and before her mind could process this, she let out a war cry so powerful a bolt of lightning cracked across the sky. Their blades clashed and Asmodeus evaded the next attempted slash. A wild grin stretched across his face. He too felt a surge of excitement he hadn’t felt in quite some time. It reminded him of the days of ole when men and women worshipped the Earth and sang songs to the spirits of the land. When the sound of drums thundered through the forest like a fluttering heartbeat. How he once used to dance alongside the humans who bore near equal power to him. A time long ago, before the great untethering.


Aurya moved with surprising speed and strength for a human. Every slash and thrust of his sword cut and stabbed through air. She moved with the fluid grace of the wind as her crimson robes fluttered against the forceful gales of her swift movements. The power of her attacks grew stronger, she’d let out a war cry and spoke in what could only be registered as her native tongue. With his heightened senses he could make out the words to be her giving praise to her original deity. Invoking the power of this Oya to grant her strength. Not knowing that such power existed within her. A manifestation of her own inner power and all others like her. It radiated from every part of her that made her who she is. That it was she whom she gave praise to. Asmodeus could feel the strength channeling through her and even encouraged Aurya to further channel this ancient one called Oya. To feel, once again, the strength of the Earth in all its natural form. To be reunited with the natural state of humankind even for just a moment. Sparks spat from their clashing steel, the force push them both backwards and they fumbled. Aurya, being lighter on her feet than her foe, regained her footing and slashed at Asmodeus broad chest. Her sword merely turned to ash from the impact. Asmodeus’s body proved far harder than her steel and shattered the blade to metallic crumbs. A cocky smile graced his lips before he dusted the silver debris from his shoulder. He moved to shoulder her and felt a sharp sting slash across his chest. This sudden pain caught him off guard as he failed to notice she pulled a small decorative blade made of silver from her garter belt. She began to strike at him like a cobra snake. Aiming low, then high with quick moves, Aurya nearly filleted him. With a blow that very well could have ended him, her weapon stabbed at bluish black smoke. He somehow changed the very structure of his molecular being for a brief second, leaving nothing but a blue and black fog. Aurya faltered and stumbled forward, her momentum working against her. Just as quick he returned to physical form and seized her by her neck stopping her fall mid stumble. A guttural growl rumbled in the base of her throat and her feet dangled inches from the snow. This nearly ended the sparring match but determination wrapped its arms around her and she found the strength to maneuver out of his steely grasp. Limbs locked and flailed together before she managed to fully escape him and fall to the powdery snow below. Rolling backwards, Aurya got back on her feet and readied herself for more. That’s when Asmodeus began to shift through the forest with speed that rendered him invisible to the human eye. He sped pass her from every angle. At that point he was simply toying with her, slapping her rear end with the flat side of his sword as he blurred passed her. This angered Aurya enough to find the ability to track and predict his next movement. In near perfect timing her fist met with his cheek, forcing him to take pause. A look of disbelief shrouded his face. Her assault did nothing at all but still surprised him. Pleasantly so. Something of a boyish giggle spilled from his lips as it was all too entertaining for him. As for her, the bone of her fingers and wrist shattered and she let out an ear-splitting cry. Aurya fell to her knees and cradled her injured arm. She looked up at her foe with defiant eyes and croaked,


“Finish it.” He raised the tip of his sword to her throat and tapped her slender chin with it.


“Rise.” He said. Confused and with buckling knees, Aurya rose to her feet. Expecting him to strike her down whilst she stood her face looked shocked by this showing of both mercy and compassion. Yet, Asmodeus smiled as he willed his sword from his clutch and offered his weapon wielding hand for Aurya to take.


“You fought with honor. I am impressed.” Said Asmodeus. They shook a brother’s hand shake and a faint smile graced her lips.


“Thank you. As did you.” They fell silent for a moment as she once more allowed herself to study him. Something about him felt so human. More human than any living man she met. “But I lost? Why did you not…” Asmodeus cut her short with a gentle wave of his hand.


“I take no pleasure in killing a worthy foe. There are not many of those left, sadly. And in a woman no less! I cannot tell you how refreshing this is for me. In time, I hope we can become friends.” He smiled. “Do you have a sort of vial with you?” He asked of her. Aurya nodded and found the small glass vial from her breast pocket. Asmodeus took the vial and poured the perfume from the small glass bottle. Then, a black vapor filled with silvery blue speckles flooded from his parted lips. He breathed the substance into the small bottle and handed it to her. “On the first night of the next full moon, take this essence and breath it into the lips of your betrothed. This will unlock his true nature as a man and he will see the beauty of your true nature as a woman. With this, you two will easily bare a child. Or two.” He said with a gentle smile. Joy overwhelmed Aurya and she took the vial from him before thanking him. Several times she thanked him before gathering herself and treading through the snow back to the nearby village. Before she exited the tree line, she looked back to find Asmodeus had vanished. Leaving behind a few black feathers falling unto the bleached snow.


Aurya waited until the next full moon as instructed before taking the vial and pouring the contents into her mouth. Her husband Arthur Stowe awaited her in their bedroom chambers where he prepared himself for their near ritualistic mating routine. Aurya found this painfully systemic and mechanical in its performance. Arthur would have her disrobe for him to ogle her for a few minutes before lying her on her back for mounting. A few rhythmless pumps of his weakened thrust and the ritual proved over and forgettable. Aurya became well aware that the process felt far better for him than it did for her. As his body would spasm then collapse at her side as if he conquered some great feat. Leaving her staring at the lengthy drapes of their canopy bed flowing in the wind. However, tonight would prove different. She instead entered their sleeping chambers with new found confidence. Already rid of her clothing, Aurya, with a woman’s grace, fell into her husband’s arms and planted an unexpected kiss on his lips. Secretly breathing in the magical essence into his lungs. Pleasantly surprised Arthur embraced his wife with eagerness before pulling away.


“You seem in high spirits.” He praised. Aurya started to reply until her husband’s face fell somber for a moment. He held her in his lanky arms as something in his eyes changed. The usual apathetic look in his hazel eyes became overshadowed by a ravenous hunger she hadn’t encountered. Yes, to him, Aurya was an exotic creature that ignited a sort of taboo hunger. Yet, that hunger was no better than that of hoarder consumed by greed for the most unobtainable things. Only to grow bored later. But this look was something she never seen before. A look of desire so profound that it nearly frightened her upon first recognition. Arthur did not utter a single word before scooping her lean curvaceous body into his arms and carrying her to the bed. Aurya had known her husband to be a man of weak physical means and was taken aback by this. With ease, he laid her down and began to plant kisses on every inch of her body. His tongue flicked and lapped at parts of her she never believed men would be willing go.


“A-Ah… Arthur, my love this is unlike you…” Aurya sighed to the air as her husband nipped at a puckered nipple. He didn’t answer her, just looked up her with a glint of mischievousness in his eyes. For a moment Aurya could see his hazel eyes flicker silver. But only for a moment before his head dipped between her lean thighs and a sensation she never felt stroked the small pearl neatly tucked away between two velvety cocoa lips. Aurya let at out an uncontrollable cry as her legs began to tremor. It didn’t take much to send her over the edge. In fact, just a few moments of careful attention to her jewel had Aurya questioning her own existence. What was this pleasure? What kind of kiss was this? The men of these lands as well as those from her culture would never perform such an act. Many men spoke ill of a woman’s sex and even some from her homeland believed the heart of a woman’s femininity to be grotesque. That its only purpose was to repopulate. Yet, in this moment she realized these sacred parts were meant for so much more.


Aurya’s hips began to gyrate in all sorts of obscene movements as she hit a sensational peak that had her speaking in incoherent languages. Arthur laid his thick tongue flat against her pulsating clit as his eyes leered at his wife. Amusement could be easily read on her husband’s face. As if her sudden loss of control brought him enjoyment. She began to come down from the high gently and attempted to speak. Aurya sat up and her words caught midway in her throat. The mirror parallel to their bed mirrored their reflection. Recognizing her own reflection, she couldn’t tell if experiencing her first and only climax had her hallucinating. For the reflection of the man buried between her legs was not that of her husband. But a familiar raven hair creature of the wood. Though the image was hazy like a smokey blur, the reflected image was clearly not her husband’s. Stunned Aurya failed to find the words to speak. Arthur slowly leered over his shoulder to take a gander at their reflection. Clear to the eyes, the man who looked back did not bare her husband’s face with its deep creases, tuffs of orange hair and a bulbous angular nose. Instead, she saw the creature of the woods with fine features and silver eyes. Before she could protest, he buried his face between her legs once more. Now, hungrily feasting on her body like a starved beast. Aurya attempted to scramble away from the overwhelming stimulation. This proved futile as her husband forced her down by the hips, lapping hungrily at her slit. A ravenous growl rumbled at the base of his throat and she became certain this was not her husband. A second orgasm seized her body and as she thrashed and spasmed once again before Arthur flipped her over and mounted her from behind. Aurya froze in place as she felt the head of husband’s manhood lick at her throbbing cunt. Not a moment wasted, Arthur slid into her with some struggle. Filling and stretching his stunned wife who was not use to the current state of his magically enhanced skill and stamina. With a grunt he buried himself to the hilt. Fingers tangled in her loose black curls to hold her squirming body down in place. Arthur’s hips moved much like the rolling waves of the ocean. Every stroke, long and agonizingly slow. This was not her husband. Not entirely. This went on until sunlight peeped across the horizon. Arthur would fill his wife with his seed countless times, but not before manipulating her smaller frame into imaginative positions. Not before assaulting her body with wave after wave of numerous orgasms that left her lying on their linen like a limp and thoroughly played with, doll. Towards the end of their great feat, Aurya could only lie in bed completely spent. This did not deter her husband who was near insatiable and unable to keep his hands off of her. He took her body one last time, utterly lost to some trance like state that turned the once refined nobleman into a wanton beast. As the golden light of the sun slowly filled the room, Arthur’s manic state dissipated and he filled her womb one last time before collapsing on top of her. Aurya lied there, feeble and shocked. Having never felt so much attentiveness, longing and hunger from another human being, warm tears shimmered in her eyes. For the first time in her marriage, she embraced her husband and held him. His arms found themselves wrapped around his wife. And a quiet chuckle left her lips.


“I-I don’t know what came over me… I’m sor-“ Arthur stopped himself when he saw the expression on his wife’s face was that of bliss and happiness. His brows furrowed and pulled away from her. “Why do you laugh?” He asked out of breath.


“Because I am happy…” She barely croaked.


And happiness remained for seven years as she gave birth to twins on the first year. One boy and one girl. The boy bore his father’s pale skin with golden hair and the daughter resembled her mother. With her chestnut-colored skin, loose black coils and amber eyes. Arthur became the talk of the village as being the first to spawn a set of twins. His business affairs caught the eye of the Monarch and he became a trusted member of the court. Aurya, despite being from lands far from here, gained the admiration of the villagers. They spoke of her ageless skin and how she remained so beautiful even after a decade had passed since she first came to these lands. They spoke of her birthing two lively children whose beauty became the crowning jewel of the Stowe estate. They were revered as the ‘Sun and Moon’ of the village. Her twins sparked the interest of the women who also struggled to conceive children. Many women often asked Aurya exactly how they were able to conceive a child, let alone twins after failing for so many years. Yet, despite the curious inquiries, Aurya kept the truth of their conception a secret. She knew Asmodeus valued his solitude and in her gratitude, she kept his secret. Many had assumed the Demon King lost interest and moved on from these lands. Apart from fear, this became the reason why he was able to live in peace. Until the night Aurya’s closest friend, Astrid, appeared on her door step with visible bruises on her face. Astrid’s husband, in his rage, had beat his wife mercilessly for not having birth him a son. Like Aurya, she knew it wasn’t a failure on her part as her cycle was timely and predictable. Astrid’s sisters and mother before never failed to birth numerous airs to carry on their father’s name. But these truths would never be well received by her arrogant husband, who would sooner see her dead before taking any blame for their small family. It was bad enough that their only child was not only a girl but a child who consistently fell ill. Astrid’s husband would blame such weakness on her and beat her into the wee hours of the night. Despite the fact the only one between them who bore a weakened bloodline was him. And this night proved no different. Except, in his rage, he nearly killed his wife. When Aurya opened the heavy wooden door to their lavish cottage she was met with the distraught image of her only true friend. Wet strands of fiery red hair lumped against her battered face. She held her daughter in her arms where bruises streaked across them like stripes.


“I had no one else to-“


“Quickly, come inside.” By her arm Aurya pulled Astrid inside before the neighboring villagers could see. Dusk had befallen the land and the lanterns had yet to be lit. Making it easier for them to sneak inside. Astrid shooed her daughter to the gardens behind Aurya’s home, where the twins awaited to play with their red headed friend. Pouring her a glass of ale Aurya sat across from her friend. Concern and worry smeared across her face as she watched her friend remove the cape from her shoulders. More bruises became visible and Aurya turned away to hide her true emotions.


“He nearly killed me this time…” Astrid croaked. With a gentle shush, Aurya began to wipe the dried blood from her lips with a wet cloth. Astrid let her friend cradle her face as she sobbed and Aurya struggled to swallow her anger. Trying her best to maintain a calm demeanor, she offered to run her a bath and make her friend some warm tea. “I cannot stay…” Astrid sighed.


“If I risk losing a chance to bare him children… Again…” the words came out in sputters as she failed to hold in her sobbing. With furrowed brows her friend asked,


“Is this why he wounded you so?” Astrid nodded. Aurya bit her tongue, tempted to aid her in the ways she aided herself those many years ago. But throughout those years she noticed that her children showed signs of possessing inhuman abilities. Moon, her daughter, with skin as dark as night, often sensed the evil in others and could foretell omens before they occurred. She gained a type of clairvoyance that only witches were fabled to have and was able to manipulate nature to bring forth balance when presented with injustice. Her brother, who proved to have bear like strength for one so young, also possessed some extraordinary senses. But his gifts lied heavily in his strength and agility. Taking notice to these abilities and how peculiar things would happen in their presence, Aurya knew this was a sign that they were more than human. That they carried the essence of Asmodeus, the Demon King. Their peculiarity remained hidden as she knew Asmodeus shielded their true nature from afar. Villagers would claim to see the children manipulate nature in an inhuman sort of way. Only to later forget the next morn. As if the memory had been wiped clean from thought. Asmodeus glamoured them to protect their true identity as it was paramount that the secret of their origins remained hidden. Not only for her children’s sake, but for the sake of her friend who continued to do her favors. Nevertheless, Aurya found herself in a dilemma when Astrid said,


“Seven years ago, I remember you ventured into the wood seeking the counsel of the creature fabled to live there…” Aurya froze in fear. “Then, you return unharmed. And later, birth Sun and Moon.” Her friend looked through the windows to admire her friend’s beautiful children. “Please, Aurya, I fear for my daughter’s life and wellbeing every day. I know you met him. I know he helped you. Please, help me.” She grabbed her friend’s hand in both her shaking palms. Aurya failed to blink back the tears. To see her so vulnerable was the hardest of things for her to witness. Astrid was once a shield maiden until she was forced to settle on these lands. She, as well as the Vikings who came here a generation ago, converted to the ways of Christianity. When striped her of her shield and sword they had all but taken away her heart and soul. Aurya knew her friend could fight her husband with ease. But it would seem, all that needed to be done to make her a perfect victim was to kill the spirit within her through subjugation. Forever, tamed by the false promises of heaven and the empty threat of hell. Told that her past as a shield maiden made her too brutish and unladylike to be worthy of God’s infinite love, Astrid lost her identity. Aurya began to see exactly what Asmodeus had taught her throughout their friendship. Bottom lip pinched between her teeth; Aurya forced herself to agree with a gentle nod. Astrid kissed her friend’s hand and hugged her.


“Thank you.” She whispered into her ear before gathering her little one and taking her leave.

***

With Sun and Moon frolicking at her side, Aurya walked into the deepest part of the woods. Dusk came and her husband Arthur was on one of his many ventures into distant villages. He disclosed to his wife that he was visiting family for a few months and would return with his favored sister, Angela. As she was to be wedded to a famed warrior of these lands and their wedding would be a vast celebration. Aurya dreaded these upcoming festivities. She wasn’t one for large gatherings, forced polite conversation and most of all the insufferable company of her irritating sister-in-law who saw Aurya as a side attraction than family. However, she enjoyed the lone time she had with her children. Arthur’s absence made it perfect timing to visit an old friend. She and Asmodeus routinely spent time together to chat and laugh about everything and nothing. Some days she’d come alone where he’d fascinate her with the stories of a world before Kingdoms and Queenship. A world where magic reigned supreme and mankind possessed a magic that came natural to the human spirit. An ‘intrinsic gift’, as he once put it. Other times she’d bring Sun and Moon to play games with who she called their spiritual father. He’d teach them small magic tricks and they freely reveled in their true nature, hidden from the judging eyes of the villagers. This day prove no different as they approached Asmodeus by a small water fall hidden behind thick oak trees and tall shrubs. He sat under the bottom of the fall, letting the water wash over his head as the summer heat proved to be hotter than usual. Aurya always chuckled when she would see the single cloth he’d wrap around his waist to maintain some form of modesty when she brought the children around. As he failed miserably at being modest in anyway. But the attempt to accommodate to their customs and mores made her adore him more.


“Asher!” Both the twins giggled as they ran over to him. He opened a single eye to peep from under the downpour and smirked.


“Now who let these feral things loose unto the world?” said Asmodeus. The twins tackled him and held on with their little limbs. Scooping them up into his steely arms he squeezed them tight and planted a kiss on each forehead.


“I’ve missed you Asher!” explained Moon, her amber eyes sparkled with glee.


“And I you, wee one. Each day you grow to be as beautiful as the flawless summer night. And you!” Asmodeus turned to Sun and tussled his golden curls. “I hear you’re becoming quite strong!”


“Oh yes, watch this!” Sun hopped from under the fall and hurled a single punch at a tall tree. The tree nearly snapped in half and splintered under the force of his tiny fist. Asmodeus’s brows raised in disbelief whilst at the same time impressed by such power. If these two were only born of his essence he could only imagine what a child born of his blood would be like. The thought alone made him long for a mate more than he already did.


“Impressive!” Praised Asmodeus.


“You’re such a brute!” Scolded Moon. She shuffled over, placed a hand upon the tree and closed her eyes. The air flexed around them as the tree began to regrow and mend back together. Once done she gave Sun a disapproving look and he lowered his head.

“I am no brute! I am a great warrior!”


“Oh? And your enemy is a tree?! Are you going to fight shrubs next great warrior?” Teased his sister.


“You two cease your bickering.” Aurya sighed with a faint smile. Asmodeus beamed at the sight of her and greeted his friend with an embrace.


“It has been too long…” He pulled away just as quick, sensing something troubled her, he asked her to take a seat beside him. The children freely played in ways they could not amongst the villagers. Flying about and running along the river’s surface as if weighing nothing. Aurya and Asmodeus watched on as they sat at the bottom of the water fall behind its curtain fall. “What troubles you?” He asked her. Aurya, with a heavy sigh explained the predicament of her friend. How she feared for her life. How Astrid was trapped in a dire situation with her tyrannical husband. And how, unlike her situation with Arthur who would simply send her away, Astrid’s husband would eradicate her all together. Having once been a great warrior, Astrid’s husband consistently felt threatened by his wife’s glorious past. As he could not wield a sword against a man if his own survival depended on it. However, he managed to defeat such a formidable woman through mental beratement coupled with the threat of a supposed Hell. Hiding behind the teachings of the Holy book known as the Bible, he managed to justify his vile behavior and stifling rules, until she eventually forgot how to defend herself. Or simply lost the will to do so. Lead to believe that this was the role women were meant to play because the Christian God had deemed it so. That he, in all his divine works, would never condone a woman baring arms or praying to ‘false idols’. Now the only chance for her survival was to comply and birth him the son he so angrily felt entitled to.


“…I am shocked she has not sought me out yet.” Asmodeus replied.


“I didn’t tell her how to find you. Asmodeus, I know how dangerous it is for you to simply exist. Many of the men gloat about hunting and killing you some day. They see you as evil. I took a great risk seeking you out that day. I still take risks visiting you like this…”


“And yet you refuse to let me repay you for your friendship in the ways I know how.” Asmodeus purred. Aurya chuckled.


“You know I am-“


“Promised to another, I know. I am only teasing to lighten your mood…” Asmodeus smiled and looked up at the clear blue skies. “I would never try to sully the union between husband and wife. Despite the stories they tell about me, I thrive on those connections. In all connection. Through that, Aurya, I grow stronger. With every lustful sigh. Hell, even a whimsy romance, I thrive. It is the love and connection between humans that drives me. I am as old as human nature itself. All lust is, is connection at its most primal. This is why I detest the falsehood that is fed to you all. It teaches humans to disconnect. To suppress the very things that once made you all so beautiful to me…” Was that a tear she saw fall from his eye? Aurya began to reply to his words but failed to find a proper response. “I respect your union with Arthur. In some strange way you love him. I can only hope he loves you in return.” Aurya rested a hand on his shoulder and found these words to share with him,


“Do not worry, I know in my heart you will find a woman who will love you fiercely. Even though I am wife to another I can definitely see a woman falling quite hard for you.” She nudged him playfully and a soft smile graced his lips.


“Hmph, perhaps. She would have to be mighty…. Fearless.”


“To deal with an arrogant ass like yourself? She most definitely will have to be.” They shared a laugh.


“Yes. I know she is here. I feel her. She is part of the spirit of the Earth for now. Not quite ready. Not yet…”


“I am sure she is. And if not. I will be waiting for you in another life.” Aurya gave him a warm smile and another playful nudge.


“Yes…” He said with a dreamy sigh. “Another life…” Asmodeus became lost in thought for a moment then came back to the present. “I want to help your friend.”


“Are you sure?” Aurya asked. He nodded, yes.


“She means a lot to you. I can see that. And you mean a great deal to me, my friend.” A look between relief with a hint of fear possessed her face and Aurya sighed.


“I thank you. And at the same time, I feel compelled to apologize to you. I feel in my heart this will not end well. We already risked so much those seven years ago.”


“Yes, but you are a loyal friend. As am I. I know you will not sit by and allow ill fate to befall Astrid or her youngling. Besides, what is life without risk?” Asmodeus removed a vial from Aurya’s pouch and breath the same black smokey nebulous cloud with silver speckles into it. Placing the cork back onto the bottle he handed it to her. “You know what to do.” He kissed her hands before rising and moving to play with the children.

As night fall came Asmodeus frolicked through the tall grassy plane not too far from the falls. He, Aurya and the children caught fireflies in small jars. Blissfully unaware that this would be their last moment together.


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