The Book of Soltana: Punishment – 57

Punishment

Underrealm

Azazel

 

Azazel ran away.

He rushed, fast as light through the Underrealm’s dark expanse. A normal human going the speed of light could normally not see, but an angel never saw in the conventional sense. He rushed through the empty sky, his purpose shattered and goals broken. He fled.

He had taken three seconds to realize he had been time locked and used his domain of swiftness to break from it. He needed to equal the difference in speed the time lock had set him to. Once he broke out of, he was awash in the horrifying presence of that demon. Abezethibou was used as a sacrificial pawn to draw out Diniel; the angel’s own impetuous nature exploited. The Fallen angel’s tunnel vision focus on the goal undid him. Forcas was destroyed as Azazel could no longer feel his presence. He was their second secret counter to Diniel with his to stop a voice. Now they had little ways of combating the angel. Barthin was frozen in a time lock as well. Barthin was a better fighter than Azazel, but lacked good abilities against time magic due to his muteness. And then he spotted Diniel himself was time locked for some reason.

Nothing made sense once he came out of the time lock. The demon had ruined everything. Ruth had fallen as a small human and several Scarabaeidae lay in crumpled heaps.

And that god was battling a miniscule automata. It was beautiful in construct with the Seal Lucifer described blazing white. A building size tentacle blossomed from the emerald god and was bisected in half against her shield. The demon’s abilities had been stopped.

And that was when Azazel had enough.

The combat abilities of the first Seal holder was nothing to him, but the other was able to damage the god and resist it’s attacks. Azazel’s rage was only eclipsed by his desire to live. He was humbled today. His plans were befuddled, his fighting ability was mocked, as well as his injury. The rage he had was instantly channeled into something else.

The desire to be stronger.

And the desire to live.

He rushed along the Underrealm sky, silencing his presence. Equal parts hiding from the prying eyes of the Underrealmers and hiding his shame. Whoever that demon-god was, it had ruined any chance of capturing the Seal holders. Or taking the Underrealm. The only glint of light in the darkness was that Diniel and his group were squarely in the demon’s sights.

“Let it be a slow torture…” He whispered in bitterness.

He had two Seal holders just within reach, which meant he had Lucifer’s love and glory in reach. A simple grasp would have ended it, only to be knocked away by a demon.

All of it was due to that emerald god. He had ruined everything. The way it spoke, it was in love with the shapeshifting Seal holder. And it had progeny. A god having children was not possible, but the demon spoke as if it was so. There was little reason why the god sided with her, then. Although it did appear to be a strange love and hate relationship from the god, based on the fallen form of the Seal holder. It was probably the god’s way of loving something was to beat it until it got stronger. Lucifer was similar. Success was rewarded, failure was penalized. Risk versus Reward.

He fled, finding a vein to the surface, feeling the warm sun, gentle breeze and sand beneath his boots. He worked quickly.

There was no time to waste if the emerald god was victorious.

He grabbed the orhicaclum amulet from his pouch, pressing into it gently. The amulet flashed, exposing a window to throne room.

There she sat atop the crystalline throne; Lucifer.

He knelt down in the sand at her presence.

“Lord of lords, god of gods. I submit myself to your presence,” Azazel announced.

Lucifer sat on high, legs casually crossed, her posture was lazy; leaning to the side with her head resting in her hand. She was clothed in an ornate white robe.

“What news, my adored Azazel?” Lucifer asked with interest.

“My lord… Calamity has occurred,” He began. Around the god of Truth, he could tell no lie.

She adjusted her posture, becoming at full attention.

“Speak,” She demanded, her tone going cold.

“We found the Seal holders and attempted capture. Abezethibou and Forcas have fallen. Barthin is missing. Two other parties intercepted us in what I therorize was an uncoordinated ambush.”

“You failed?” Lucifer asked, her tone dropping to bitter ice.

“Yes, my god. I only managed to esc-”

Azazel was yanked through the portal, into Lucifer’s throne room on his face. She was off her throne, standing above him. Her hair golden hair trailed behind her.

“Explain.”

The voice was of black space, threatening to smother him.

“Abezethibou rushed in on his own in an attempt to take the Seal holders without assistance. He failed to focus on Diniel and paid for it with his existence.”

Lucifer stood there impassively as Azazel explained from his belly. He glanced at the two chained and bound individuals at the base of her throne. Two Seal holders she had captured. The most recent one, Saoirse, was glaring smugly at him. Her mouth was covered in a metal mask. A horrific shackle called a ‘gorger’. He disliked her; she reminded him too much of the wily fae he battled in the past; a possible lineage. The other was a boy of great strength. His hands were shackled together and he wore an iron mask with one visible eye. He didn’t know much of him; the boy never spoke to him.

“We caught up and subdued Diniel, and were preparing to take the Seal holders when the third party struck.”

“Who is this third party?” Lucifer asked, her voice edged with bladed ice.

“A god,” Azazel said, hoping that would placate her.

It didn’t.

“A god? A god? I find it hard to believe a god would be waiting in such a convenient place.”

“His name was Neon, the Emerald god.”

“Emerald god…” Lucifer murmured.

“My god, you know of this one?”

“Only in passing. He was mentioned in my lovely Saoirse’s home, where she was created- sorry dear I was going to tell you!” Lucifer replied as she turned back to the pale white shock stricken woman.

“The rumors is this god travels quite a bit, performing bizarre experiments for some unknown goal. It is said even his followers know the futility of following him, yet do so willingly for a chance of gleaning some knowledge.”

“And that is why I fled, you needed to know a god exists on Tetanyia V. He was in love with one of the Seal holders, claiming to check on his progeny.”

“And yet you still failed,” Lucifer stated bluntly, the room emptied of warmth.

“The god teamed up with the Seal holders, stating one of them was the love of his life. Her name was Ruth Aimèe LaChapelle. That was the second Seal holder Soltana protected. She is a shapeshifter, able to take on the physical traits of those she devours. I also saw Soltana. Her form was different than what you described-”

Lucifer picked up Azazel by the neck, raising him high.

“Are you saying I was incorrect?”

“N-no! The information- gah!- changed!” Azazel explained hurriedly.

Her Azure eyes with gold bands narrowed, her beauty exemplified by the anger.

“H-her height was tiny, barely to my calf! She may have changed forms!” Azazel explained as Lucifer let her grip slacken.

“Do you know anything more? What calling?”

“No, my god…” Azazel stated in dismay.

Azazel was dropped to the ground gracelessly.

“And what of my chosen ones? What of Nathaniel?”

Azazel averted his eyes.

“Lost. Diniel made sure of that-”

Lucifer picked up Azazel to his feet, only to slap him. The clapping noise echoed through the silent halls. Azazel’s fair face turned crimson at the shame, his ears and cheeks burned at the offensive gesture. Two angels that respected one another would duel if strife came about, to show such a gesture meant he was unworthy as such.

“You used them as pawns! My children!” the anger in her voice boiled up.

“You wasted them!”

Azazel nodded, head low. Countenance lower.

“Yes, my god.”

“They had so much potential! And for what? Your selfish games?”

“Were the other angels, your allies, used in the same way? Bait?”

Azazel knew better than to heap more punishment upon himself and lie.

“Yes, my god.”

The blues of Lucifer’s eyes shown, her anger crackling the room.

“Of all the foolishness- this god was only an excuse! Your disaster was caused by mistrust. You had no faith in me. You saw the others as rivals, especially Nathaniel!”

She became as frigid as deep space.

“You failed.”

Azazel bowed lower.

He had been jealous of her newest champion. Nathaniel’s ascension was marked with intimate time with Lucifer. Time he should’ve had for all the labor he wrought. A rival was gone. A small candlelight in the darkness of his failure.

“Yes, my god.”

Lucifer turned and walked to her throne, her hair trailing behind her. She gestured to one of her menagier.

A demon whose back was bent and bolted to a granite table shambled into view. It’s riveted and braced flesh perfectly held the table aloft. Torture tools were adorned on the table.

“You.”

She held the word as she examined the table, picking up a transparent blade before placing it down.

Azazel felt his spirit wilt.

“Failed. There are no new Seal holders in my presence. You wasted my chosen. And Nathaniel. Not to mention my fellow brethren. All of them are lost?

“Yes, my god.”

Azazel bowed his head. There were no arguments to be made. Even if it was the God of Hosts himself that stopped him, Lucifer ruled with risk and reward. The risk would still be incurred.

“How much do you love me?” Lucifer asked casually as she examined an orhicalcum cat o’ nine tails.

“As much as reality itself. Without you, I have no existence,” Azazel stated without thinking.

“Good,” Lucifer replied as she walked to him, striding with power and haughtiness, the cat grasped in both hands.

“Azazel, my love. You are one of the few I cannot traditionally punish. I am disappointed that I ever had to punish you. Up to this point, you were perfect,”

Lucifer stood over Azazel, a full two feet higher. Her eyes held the rage of two burning neutron stars. She pursed her lips as she continued.

“I could punish you through pain, but it would be seen as a joy for you. I could punish you by taking your beauty, but you would see your scars as transcendent. I could take someone or something from you, but you would give them to me without hesitation. I could break your mind with my voice, and you would feel it as ecstasy.”

“Azazel my love you were too perfect a follower. There is nothing I can do to punish you,” Lucifer stated with a cold smile.

“And thus there is only one way to punish you.”

Lucifer handed Azazel the orhicalcum cat.

His very soul skipped a beat in sudden knowing.

“No…”

“No.”

“My god, I cannot-”

His hand trembled, the cat suddenly weighing several tons.

“There is only one thing you love that you could never bear to hurt through word, act, or deed.”

Azazel took a step back, his face growing wide in horror.

“One thousand lashes.”

Lucifer turned and collected her hair, throwing the bundle to the base of the throne. She knelt down on her knees and disrobed.

Her beauty was fully exposed.

His desire ignited.

And then extinguished at the godly pinnacle of a divine being he was about to mar.

She turned back, looking at him with narrowed eyes filled with blame.

“I can’t do it,” Azazel said firmly.

“You will do it.”

“I can’t.”

“You will do it.”

 

Azazel visibly shook from the blast of her command. He looked at the cat, seeing it glint in the light. It was enchanted to maximise pain.

Tears began to flow as he raised it high.

He blinked them back, refusing to follow her orders half-heartedly.

“Azazel, remember to strike true. Each weak blow will have you start over,” Lucifer commanded.

“You will have to tell me about this god’s attempt at making progeny.”

He raised the cat high, his face soaked through with quiet weeping. He glanced at the Seal holders, seeing their shock.

He let loose a powerful blow, the thundercrack of the cat cutting deep into Lucifer’s back.

“One.” He stammered through his tear jerked body.

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