The Demangel



By Gold Mage.

Started 30/11/02



Well, this is yet another story I'm starting! I've read another Original story that gave me this idea, and I just couldn't ignore it! I tried putting it in my other Original story, Shadow Spinner, but I thought it was such a good idea that it demanded a story of it's own, and had to start a new story! I'm hoping that this story won't stop me from writing Shadow Spinner and The Almatos, but I've a sneaky feeling that that's exactly what'll happen..until I get bored of this one and go back to them, and then I'll get bored of them and go back to this one, and then-

Well, you get the picture.

Warning, these will be extremely long chapters like Shadow Spinner, so if you don't like long chapters then you've been warned! Plus, this first chapter is VERY long, as it's the whole account about the two who all started it all, the Angelos and Demonos who started it all. In fact, it's 21 pages long in Word, so you might want to copy it into Word so you can read it offline!

Also, another warning. I wrote most of this listening to the Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, and X soundtrack (and even a few tracks from before the games went PlayStation ^_^) and so if it seems heavily influenced by the Final Fantasy games *Kneels and prays in shrine where on the wall are pasted pictures of Squall, Zidane, Zell, Cloud, Tydus, Blank etc.* then don't sue me, sue my lawyer!

On with the story!







The Demangel

Prologue: A doomed love affair...



Ilia, the eldest daughter of K ing Pramajia and Queen Zelaphne ran through one of the many carpeted corridors of her home, her blonde hair and white wings streaming out behind her. Her young spirit soared in anticipation of the coming evening as she dashed through the corridor. At the end of it, a knight in burnished silver armor appeared to be guarding the door, but Ilia knew better. As she approached the door, she smiled to herself mischievously. Reaching into her pocket, she brought out a swan feather quill, and reached up on her tiptoes to tickle the snoring knight's nose. Abruptly, he woke up with a sneeze.

"What the- Halt! Who goes there?!"

Laughing, Ilia replied. "It's me, you old fool!" she said affectionately. "My my, sleeping on the job!"

The middle-aged soldier relaxed at once. "Oh, 'tis you, Ilia." He said. "Did you have to wake me up? I was having a wonderful dream.."

"Oooooh!" teased Ilia. "I'm so sorry, please forgive me! But anyway, you would have been woken up anyway soon, because there are going to be lots of people coming up and down here, because of the play. Oh, did you hear, there's going to be a play held today in the castle grounds, and it's one of my favorites! I'm really looking forward to it!"

"Oh yes, your younger sister has been talking of nothing but that for days. I'm heartily tired of the subject now, and I think if anyone even tells me one name of a person in the play, I'll explode!"

"I'll have to go then, because I don't think I can refrain from talking about the play any longer, and I do not want you to explode all over the corridor! Is my father within, Ilbeth?"

"Yes..I think. He was before I fell asleep.." replied the knight doubtfully.

"He must still be then." Decided Ilia. "We'll talk more later, Ilbeth. Please, if my sister comes along do not explode in the corridor!"

And she knocked on the door.

"Who is it?" came a voice from within.

"Father, 'tis I, Ilia!"

"Oh, come in."

She pushed open the door and entered. Her father was standing at the fireplace, holding a letter in one hand, at which he was frowning slightly.

"Ah, Ilia." He said. "How are you? I take it you are looking forward to the play tonight."

"Very." Said Ilia, smiling. "But not as much as Torqual! According to Ilbeth, she's been talking about it for days."

"Yes, I heard about that." Said the king, smiling fondly. He was an Angelos of about five hundred years on his head, about the equivalent in human terms about forty-five, with white hair, and powerful white wings that swept out of his back. He, along with his wife, ruled over the Angelous people, with the help of several councilors and Lords.

"Father, the reason I wished to speak to you was actually about Torqual." His daughter began. "I believe.. I think that she..is not looking forward to the play more than the chance to see Lord Bentorias again."

Her father sighed. "I know, my child, and I think that Bentorias is of the same opinion."

Ilia looked up, startled. "Father, you- you knew?"

The king smiled. "Verily. And no, I have not interfered. I believe that Torqual is old enough to make the choices herself."

"But- but father, she is younger than I!"

"I know. But, there is no harm in it. Bentorias is from a wealthy family, is a valiant young knight, and will keep his honor with her. There is nothing to fear. Torqual is young and somewhat silly, and it will please her to think for a while that she is in love."

"V-very well, my father. But.."

Her father laughed. "Ilia, you worry too much. Now, go to you chamber, and worry about things more fitting for a young maid, and a pretty one at that, like which dress to wear, and which lord to outrageously flirt with tonight!"

Laughing, Ilia bade her father goodbye and walked out of the room, still worrying about her sister, although feeling a little anxiety for herself. You see, she, the eldest Princess and heir to the throne, was at the most suitable age to marry, and her mother and father had subtly been dropping hints all decade. As she walked back to her chamber, she let out another sigh, and this time not for herself, or for her sister, but for her whole race. The Angelous were at war again, as they had been on-off for time before legends, with their counterparts, the Demonous.

There were three types of conscious life on their planet, which was known as Geara. Angelous, Demonous and Humans. Angelous were openly at war with Demonous, Demonous openly at war with both Angelous and Humans, while the Humans' status was officially neutral, but it was common knowledge how much the Council of Human Rulers would pay for a captured Demonos, dead or alive.

Ilia wasn't worried about the Demonous beating the Angelous: most of the Demonous leaders had been killed by Human bounty hunters or young lords seeking favor in the eyes of their superiors, and everyone knew that it was only a matter of time before the Demonous gave in. No, that wasn't what was bothering Ilia. It was the fact that the Humans were interfering; it simply asked for trouble. Personally, she could see why most Demonous held Human in contempt: Humans had little or no honour, they broke oaths as easily as drinking wine, and were slippery and treacherous. Ilia was afraid that they would simply get involved in the war, help the Angelous defeat the Demonous, and then defeat the Angelous, becoming the sole rulers of Geara.

~*~

"Ahhh!" all the people gasped in surprise and joy as the green velvet curtain was lifted on the, and the play began.

Ilia shifted in her chair and sank down comfortably, and prepared to enjoy herself a lot, but then she caught a glimpse of her younger sister, who was sitting on the other side of her mother and father, and scowled. Torqual was fluttering her fan and giving off little high-pitched, silly laughs as she talked away nine times to the dozen to her friend next to her, all of which was just a bid for Lord Bentorias's attention. And it was working.

Ilia gritted her teeth and quickly looked the other way, for fear that she would jump up and slap her annoying sister on the cheek. When she looked up again, she saw that a page was escorting an Angelos of an evidently high rank to her father. The newcomer tapped her father on the shoulder, made the deep bow required by anyone addressing the King of the Angelous, and muttered something to him in a low voice. Instantly, Ilia's father looked at the other Angelos sharply, and muttered something, obviously asking a question. The Angelos replied in a monotone.

Curious, Ilia sat up slightly, and bent toward her father, managing to appear still engrossed in the play. Even then, she could only hear a few words.

"..defiant leader...not found..band broken up..said they were heading for here."

"But why? Are they mad? This is the very center of the Angelous kingdom, they would be found for sure!" in his surprise the king of the Angelous had spoken louder than he had intended, but quickly lowered his voice.

"..leader.. not found..heard..of..before? That was his father. The leader..revenge..a sword..Demonous are treating him like a king."

"A king?" Ilia's father's brow was wrinkled in thought. "Could this be..the one? The one who..unite the Angelous and Demonous?"

"Possibly. The prophecy says..the eldest princess of..."

"Ilia? No. Far too sensible. No....nothing to worry about there."

"Yes, but King, he is here!"

"WHAT?!"

"Somewhere in the audience. My soldiers are looking for him as we speak."

"Yes..if..true, then find him, at all costs!"

"Yes my King." The Angelos saluted smartly, then turned and marched away.

Behind him, the King sighed and frowned at the stage, his mind still on the tidings that the Captain had brought. The day of the Demonous lord was nigh. Well, he wouldn't let him triumph. This Demonos would find out that the Angelos Lord was not going to succumb to a mere demon!

~*~

It was later, when the play was nearing the end, the king made good his resolution. Suddenly, there were loud shouts down in the audience, and people started backing away wildly. War cries echoed off the walls and mingled with the sound of people screaming. Ilia stood up, her mouth hanging open in shock and horror. Looking around her in shock, she saw her father also standing, his face flushed with a hunter's triumph, his face eager as he peered over into the crowd. Looking at him like that, Ilia, for the first time in her life was afraid of him.

Soon, it was evident what was going on. A small band of people were being attacked by the whole force of the castle's soldiers. They put up a good fight, but then one of the soldiers managed to wound the man who seemed to be the leader. He recovered quickly, as he was obviously a trained warrior, but in that one second when he was off balance, another soldier slipped behind him and struck him hard on the head. The man went down.

"No! Don't kill him!" the King's voice boomed out. "Bring him here! I want him alive! Bring him up here! "

Once the band saw their leader helpless, they gave themselves up, and were taken away by soldiers to the castle dungeon. Their leader, however, was brought up the stairs to the small balcony where the Royal family traditionally watched plays.

Queen Zelaphne gasped and put her hand over her mouth. "Pramajia, what-?" she began faintly, but was cut off by the arrival of the prisoner.

"So." Began the king.

He didn't say anything more, and proceeded to look at the prisoner up and down with shrewd black eyes, missing nothing. The predator look did not leave his face.

"So." He said again, still looking at him. Ilia did the same.

The prisoner was clearly a human, with raven-black hair, and raven-black eyes that watched the king's every move. His face was bloody, and fresh gore dripped down his face from a jagged wound on his forehead. He seemed about twenty five human years, and was wearing a long leather cloak and rough green homespun woolen robes. Despite the fact that he was bound in chains, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that he wasn't the leader. Even now, a prisoner, he and the Angelos King seemed to be evenly matched.

"Explain yourself." Said the Angelos king. "Why are you trespassing in my castle would be a good place to start."

"T-trespassing?" repeated the man. "I wasn't aware of the change in rules that let a human come inside the castle to see a play, my lord."

The man placed a strange sort of accent on the last two words, but Ilia's father simply smiled smugly.

"No. There has been no change in the rules allowing a human inside, but Demonous are forbidden."

"I beg you pardon, my lord?" he was an excellent actor. "I do not understand what laws applying to Demonous have got to do with me."

"Oh yes?" said the King icily. "Imforbata!" it was obviously a type of spell, which surrounded the man with a black dust cloud. When it cleared away, Ilia gasped in surprise and shock. The man was still there, but his skin had darkened, and his eyes had started glowing with a black light. A pair of black wings protruded from his back, also black, opposed to the white Angelos wings, with black feathers.

"You have been careless, Aenao Zerbanacha, son of Galaria and Petriko Zerbanacha. And carelessness-as you aught to know-never lets the person be careless again, because they either never are careless again.. or they die. And, I am afraid, Aenao, that in your case it will be the second option!"

The man...or rather Demonos, looked remarkably calm for someone who had just been discovered to be the leader of a group of people who's idea of a brilliant Christmas present would be the head of K ing Pramajia on a silver platter.

"Maybe yes, maybe no. That's not what happens in all cases. Anyway, what you decide is irrelevant."

"Oh yes? May I ask why, as one wave of my hand could send you to your death?"

"That doesn't matter. I am willing to die for my people!"

"Yes, I've heard of the fabled martyrs of your people. But, I may not give you this chance. I can either simply keep you here in the castle tied up, or..let me tell you something, Demonos. There are many ways to die, quickly, with the severing of the thread of life in just a few seconds, or slowly, painfully, bit by bit. No-one can keep secrets in that condition. No-one. But, it is your choice. You can either tell me all you know about the movements of the Demonos people, or you can die a slow and painful death. It is your choice."

The Demonos raised his head, and for the first time, looked at the King full in the eye. Then he said in a soft hiss like the soft hiss you hear and wonder what it is, before realizing that it is in fact a rampaging wildfire.

"I will never help you destroy my people, you murderer! You think that you can break me? Fool! I will never succumb to scum like you."

The king shook visibly with rage as he beckoned furiously to his soldiers. "Take this Demonos," he spat, "and put him in the dungeon. Tomorrow we will introduce him to a wildcat, name of nine tails, and see whether he still has more fine speeches to give us!"

~*~

Much later Ilia's mind was still spinning as she walked down the corridor leading to her room, along (unfortunately for her) with a yapping Torqual by her side, who would just not shut up.

"Oh, the play was marvelous! Simply fabulous, don't you think? And.." she hesitated for a moment, playing up to the act. "Do you want to hear a secret?"

"No, thank you Torqual." Said Ilia politely through gritted teeth, hoping that her pesky sister would soon leave her alone. "I don't want to, thankyou, at all."

And she opened the door to her set of rooms, meaning to close the door in her sister's face, but Torqual just smiled sweetly and said: "Oh, come on, Ilia, I know you don't mean that! Come on, I don't think I can keep it to myself much longer!"

"Oh, all right!" groaned Ilia, resigned to the fact that she wouldn't be able to sort out her tangled feelings for a while yet. "What is it?"

Torqual walked to her older sister's bed and sat on it, drawing her knees up under her chin. "You promise you won't tell anyone else? Especially Mother and Father."

"All right. I promise. Now, will you tell me?"

"Ah, so you ARE interested! I knew it! Well, here it is: I'm in love!"

"Oh, is that all?" said Ilia, bored. She had been expecting this conversation for days, ever since she had been aware of Lord Bentorias's complements to her sister. Of course, all her sister felt towards Bentorias was simply a girlish crush, and the silly air-headed princess had simply pronounced it to be what she hoped it was.

"What do you mean, is that all?" gasped the younger girl. "I'm in love!"

"Uh, yeah right. Torqual, please tell me that he's not Bentorias."

Torqual just blushed and started fidgeting with the hem on her dress. "I-I well.."

Her sister just groaned. "Look, Torqual, I just don't want to know, alright? Can we just talk about something different? You always seem to find something to talk about, somehow."

"Oh, alright." Said Torqual grumpily. "Fine! How about that Demonos that Father captured! Oh, father sounded so noble, talking to that monster like that!"

~If that's noble,~ thought Ilia, ~then may the gods help us all~. Out loud, she said "Well, what about him?"

"That demon." Said her sister. "He looked so..so savage! I'm so glad I'm an Angelos! Imagine being a human, or even worse, a demonos!"

"Hm." Said Ilia vaguely, but all the time, she was thinking ~I don't think he looked savage. Half of the tales about the demonous aren't true, anyway. And..~ but she left that 'and' unfinished. She was thinking about that awful look on her father's face, the look of a hunter, a predator.

"You know, it's so terrible, they don't even realize how unlucky they are, not being Angelous." Continued Torqual in a maddening superior tone. "If I was one of them I'd immediately go to the city of the Mages and look for a way to become an Angelos, but most of them are just happy as they are- or so they say! I mean, it must be impossible to like being a Human or a Demonos, so they're just saying that out of jealously!"

"Well, it must be alright for them. Besides, sometimes I wish I was a human or even a Demonos."

Torqual gaped at her sister as though she was mad. "What?! But- but, that's pathetic!" she managed to gasp out.

"No it's not." said Ilia defensively, winding a lock of her hair around her fingers. "I just wish..that I wasn't a princess, that I wasn't an Angelos..sometimes I think that I'd rather marry a human shepherd and live in a swamp than stay here. But, it's no use wishing for things that will never happen, so I've just got to put up with it!"

"Humph. That's mad! And, when father and mother die and you're old enough, you'll become queen! I'm so envious! Oh I wish that I had been the elder! You just don't appreciate anything!"

"Well, if you like I'll abdicate on the second day." Said Ilia, yawning. "Can you please leave me alone now? I want to get to sleep."

"Oh fine." Said her sister huffily. "Be like that!" and with that, she stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

Ilia sighed, and then lay down on her bed, trying to sort out her tangled feelings. Her father, her sister, and the demonos all swirled around impossibly in her mind. ~Father..what was he thinking? Why did he behave like that? Father isn't like that normally..so what's got into him? Why did he behave so harshly, imprisoning that demonos..~ abruptly she sat up, her mouth open in shock. "No! Wait a moment!" she said to herself. "Didn't father say..oh no!" she had just realized what her father had meant. The Demonos leader was going to be lashed until he told them all he knew. It may not sound like much, but Ilia had heard about lashings of prisoners before, although it was something that was not considered suitable for a young princess to know. She had heard the terrible whispers about people lashed so much that their spine and kidneys shown, heard tell about the scars that they bore of the rest of their lives. It was impossible to imagine the quiet, calm demonos screaming and shrieking in pain. She couldn't let him suffer that, even if he was a demonos. Abruptly, she reached a decision.

She swung her legs over the side of the bed, groped around for some shoes, and quietly walked over to the door and pulled it open. Now she would have to deal with the soldier who was always stationed outside her door.

"Princess?" came the inquiring voice. "May I please ask where you intend on going?"

"Oh, just to see my sister, Belkala." She lied, trying not to go bright red.

"At this time?" asked the soldier, Belkala, using the tome that all the high-ranking soldiers seemed to have got the hang of, not quite impolite, but enough to know that you were making a mistake. "I'm sorry, Princess Ilia, but it is nearing the second hour of the new day."

"T-that does not matter. I know she will still be awake. I intend on going."

"Very well then, princess, but I shall come with you."

"N-no, that will not be necessary, thank you, Belkala.. I will go by myself."

"But princess-!" he began to protest, but then stopped when he saw a strange look on her face. Something told him that she was big trouble when she was in this mood, and he didn't want to lose his hard-won place as a Captain. Sulkily, he saluted her and muttered "Aye, as you wish, Princess."

"Exactly." Said Ilia sweetly. "As I wish!" and she walked off the corridor.

She hardly saw the corridors around her wiz past as she careered around the corridors in a walk that amounted almost to a run. Her feet trod the way surely, even though her mind was racing. The demonos..she was going to save him..she wouldn't let him get hurt..she was actually doing something dangerous..she couldn't get his face out of her mind..there was something..just something..that she recognized in him..what? A..rage..against the people.. who had harmed him..them..the Angelous..the people like her..she had never felt one with the Angelous..but there was something else..she felt as though they had met once..before..all this..before she..was a Princess..before..he was a Demonos..

With a start she realized she was outside the small, sharply sloaping tunnel leading to the worst rooms of the Castle. Namely, the prisons. Lifting her head high and taking a deep breath, she took a step down the corridor, grimacing in disgust at the foul smell that assailed her. Now was the hard part.

Seconds later, there was a scraping to the left of her, and she found herself face-to-face with the turnkey of the dungeons, one beaker of ale clutched in his unsteady hand.

"'Ey! Who by the great Tribal's tail is rampagin' roun' at 'is time 'o night? If it's that Demaka 'e can jus go 'un stick-oh."

Fortunately for everyone in hearing he had at that moment seen Ilia, and in his surprise had forgotten everything he was about to say.

"Princess!" he burbled in surprise. "Whut..whut..whut in the name of Leifon 're YOU doin' here?!"

"Hello, Selmaka." Said the princess crisply, ignoring the drunken turnkey's open mouth. "I've come to see a prisoner."

"A..a prisoner, m'lady? B-but uh, your father...he said, you-."

But he was cut off by the girl sharply. "I don't care what my father said. I am here and I wish to speak to the Demonos."

"The demonos, m'lady?" astonishment was governing him again. "W-wull, uh your father, he said uh that he wanted not no-one to get into the prison tonigh' and he ah-!"

But his protests ended in a gasp of pain and surprise. He was crushed against the wall, a long white-bladed thin dagger at his throught.

"Now." Said Ilia, breathing heavily. "Let's try again. When my father dies, I will be Queen here. Think, fool! I will remember both those who obey and disobey my orders, and give them just what they deserve. Now, let me past. No, better, give me the keys, then you have not got the responsibility. Now, what is your choice?"

The astonished turnkey dropped his wooden beaker on the floor as he fumbled at his waist with his free hand, and waved the heavy bunch of keys in Ilia's face.

"H-here!" he gasped. "Uh- here!"

"Thank you." said Ilia smoothly, moving away from the petrified Angelos so that he landed in a heap on the floor. "'Twas well for you to say so. Now, go, and do not worry about guarding the cells tonight. Go!"

The man stumbled to his feet, swaying unsteadily from a mixture of fright, astonishment and the effects of alcohol. He gave the princess a frightened look, then stumbled back into the Guards' room, slamming the door behind him and bolting it.

Outside, Ilia stood very still, the dagger still clutched in her now trembling hand. She didn't know what on Geara and beyond had come over her. She had ended up doing and saying things that she would never have imagined herself saying...ever. Slowly, she turned her head down to look at the silver dagger in her hand. It had a rosewood handle, inlayed with silver, the hilt was silver and the blade white. It was the type that the smiths called 'Silver Ice'. She didn't even remember picking it up. Without a word, she uncurled her fingers from the hilt, so that it dropped on the floor with a dull thud.

Mentally shaking herself, she picked up her remaining courage, and made a start down the damp corridor, her feet slipping on the green slime, and feeling faint from the terrible smell. To her right and left were the metal doors of the cells. She hurried past them, knowing instinctively where the demonos would be held. She skated through the passageway that resembled a tunnel, as there were no windows, past moans and cries of prisoners who shrieked in their sleep, until the passage ended abruptly in front of her. To the casual eye it would simply seem like that was the end of the dungeons, but she knew better. Looking down she spread the heavy bunch of keys that the turnkey had...given her. The girl picked the key that she had always heard stories of, a silver key with a bronze dragon wound around the haft, showing it's teeth in a fierce snarl. Many were the stories about that key, for it was given to the Angelous lord many thousands of years ago by a mysterious visitor, who had never revealed his identity, or who he was, only that he was from..another world.

Ilia lifted the key, and spread her fingers onto the damp grey rock, seeking by touch that which could not be found by sight. There! She felt it! The keyhole. With trembling fingers she lifted the key in the rock. Then, using both of her hands, twisted to the left three times. The lock was heavy, but turned smoothly. With a push, she let herself inside.

At first she recoiled from the foul stench of the room and the smoke that stung at her eyes, but then, as she coughed and waved her hand in front of her face to clear her vision, she caught a glimpse through the brown smoke, of a man, chained up on the far side of the cell. He was crouching down at first, the chains on his hands and torso not allowing him to lie down comfortably, but when he saw her, the demonos started up in surprise.

"Princess!" he gasped in surprise. So, he knew who she was. Not wasting a moment, she dashed over to him and started unlocking the chains that bound him.

"Quickly," she gasped. "I am going to set you free. Do not ask why or how. Speed is everything. Are you hu- have they hurt you?"

"No." said the demonos, standing still so that she could unlock the chains faster. "But princess, why-?"

"I said don't ask why or how." said Ilia, more harshly than she intended. The main reason that she didn't want him to ask why was for the simple reason that she didn't know. Why was she saving him? There was just something..

The demonos stood still and silent as Ilia proceeded to unlock all the chains. When the demonos felt the last one drop to the floor, he took a step forward, rubbing his wrists where the cuffs had made sore. For a few seconds they just looked at each other, summing each other up. He saw a blond, almost white haired girl, with deep blue eyes and a very pale skinned complexion, with freckles on her cheeks. She was almost a woman, but still a girl.

She saw him for the first time not just as a demonos, but as a person, with a character, someone who..abruptly, she looked away, breaking his gaze.

"Qu-quickly." She stuttered, not looking at his face. "There is not much time. Follow me. One sound and we are both dead."

Without a word he nodded, and Ilia felt a surge of relief. He was going to do what she said.

"Come." She said, and lead the way out of the dungeon.

When they got to the corridor next to the room where the drunken turnkey (as they could clearly hear through the locked and bolted door) was giving an account on how the 'Mad princess' had threatened him with his life.

"She says, says that -hic!- I 'ave ta give 'er tha keys, wit this bloody great big sword ut me throught. She says tha' unles' I gave 'er tha keys sharpish then she would cut off me arms un' legs un' leave me 'ere ta bleed ta death! I wus brave tho, I wunna let 'er take 'em from me, so she cut me over the hands wi' 'er Gunblade, and I-."

"'Old on! I thought ya said it were a sword a moment back."

The demonos paused, looking down at the ground. He had seen the dagger that was still lying on the floor from where she had left it. Quickly, he stooped and picked it up.

"Yours?" he asked, with a small smile on his face.

"N-no." stuttered Ilia. "It's not mine- I mean, I brought it here, but I- don't know who's it is." She ended in confusion.

"Princess, let me give you some advice. All the people who can be armed must look to their weapons now, for war is coming.. I suggest that you take it, and keep it safe to hand." He held out the dagger in his hand. Ilia, after looking at it for a few moments, nodded and reluctantly stretched out her hand to take it. "Come." She said again. "There is not much time left!"

For some time they passed through the corridors in silence, halting every time they fancied they heard a sound. They sneaked through the castle, past rooms of splendor where the royal family lived, and the less decorterative rooms where the Councils took place, but encountered no problems at all. Aenao was the first one to break the silence.

"Princess, please forgive my asking, but where are we headed?" he asked, as they passed through yet another set of identical corridors.

"To the port." Answered Ilia, not looking around.

"The sea port or the air port, Princess?" inquired the demonos.

The girl gave a gasp of surprise. "How do you know about-!" the words were out of her mouth before she could stop them.

The Demonos just smiled. "I know a lot about the castle, Princess. All that is commonly known, and all that is secret."

"O-oh........" was all that the flustered princess could manage to say. The Castle of the Angelous was commonly known to have a Sea Port that looked out onto the Sea of Retakia from which a F.R.O.S.T or I.C.E powered boat could travel to the other Angelous lands, Andsowhy and Kilemall.. What was kept secret though, from all but the most trusted high-ranking Lords, was the secret Air Port. It was kept secret so that if the Castle was besieged, then the Royal family could escape.

"Well..to the Air Port. Th-there is a I.C.E powered Airboat leaving to go to the Demonous lands in forty minuets from now. I-I thought you could go with it. There are many places you can hide in, I do not think that you would be discovered."

"Oh!" gasped the demonos in surprised. Ilia got the feeling that he had been expecting her to say something very different. "I- thankyou, Princess."

Nothing more was said until they had reached the passages nearing the port.

"Here we have to be careful." Said Ilia. " For many are the guards of the Port."

The Demonos just nodded. He knew all about guards.

"Now, I'm going to take out the dagger and put it at your back to look as though I was forcing you to go somewhere. Try and look like the shattered, near-death leader of a small group of rebels, and leave the talking to me."

"Yes ma'am." Said the Demonos with a faint smile on his face.

Together they walked up the corridor, to where Ilia (and probably Aenao, too) knew the main Guards where stationed, with strict orders to let no-one but the highest ranking Lords through without a special permit.

"Hey! Who's there!?" demanded a voice in front of them, coming from the top of a high wall-like gate that separated the Port from the rest of the castle.

"It is I, Ilia Fefaltica, and I suggest you open this gate immediately and let me through!" Shouted the Princess.

There was much surprised whispering and some shuffling up above, before the gates opened and an Angelos came hurrying through. He stopped dead when he saw her companion.

"P-Princess!" he gasped out in surprise. "What brings you here at such an hour, and with the Demonos-!"

"I am here on the orders of my father." Lied Ilia. "He has given orders concerning this Demonos that are so important that he can trust no-one else with them. I trust you are the operating Port Master?"

"Y-yes, Princess, I am, but-."

"Thank you. Now, will you tell these Angelous to open this gate and let us through, or must I go and tell my father that you refused to obey orders?"

The Angelos hesitated for a moment longer, and so Ilia made as though to turn round and walk away, but the Angelos called out hurriedly. "N-no, it's alright. I'm sure you can pass, and if you've got special orders-!"

Smiling sweetly with just a touch of smugness Ilia turned around and led Aenao through the fast opening gates.

"Well done." Said the demonos as soon as they were out of earshot from the startled guards. "But I'm afraid your plan has some flaws."

"Oh yes?" asked Ilia, startled.

"Yes. For yourself. When it is discovered that I have escaped, they will question the guards. The drunken turnkey will find it hard to remember anything from this night tomorrow, but we heard him boasting about it to some of his probably more sober friends, who will remember it. Next, the matter of the Port guards. They will defiantly remember you saying you had 'special orders' from your father."

"Oh!" exclaimed Ilia. "I-I hadn't thought about myself. The main thing seemed just getting you out of here, so- I don't know. I think I can just deny it. I am a Princess, after all, and my father's favorite daughter, and I'm known to be quite sensible. I don't think I'll have too much trouble in squirming out of trouble."

"Y-es." He answered. "If it was only one group of people who had seen us then I would agree. Plus, your father is going to be furious when he finds out, as I am a very valuable person to have as a prisoner."

"I-I don't know." Said Ilia. "Oh! Here it is! The Airboat, I mean. Oh, we're lucky, no-one is about at this minuet and the gangplank is put across!"

"Oh." Said the Demonos. "I- well."

They stood there, just looking at each other. It was Ilia who spoke first.

"Well then, good luck." She said.

"I- thankyou, Princess." He said, then started to take a few steps towards the Airboat. Then, suddenly he turned. "Princess- Why- I mean, Princess, I advise you, for your own safety of course, to-to come with me."

"C-come with you?" she gasped, stunned. She had never imagined leaving the castle in her life. Dreamt of, yes, imagined, no. "I- I well, you see, I don't think, but I don't know, you see-." She realized she was burbling without meaning anything and shook her head, trying to clear the fogginess of indecision in her mind. Go on. Whispered a voice in her head. You've always wanted to get away from the castle, to live a normal life. Go on. Do it. If you stay here you'll defiantly be found out. Your father and mother will never miss you. An exciting life is waiting in front of you. Why stay here, unhappy, simply waiting for the moment that your father will force you into a marriage that you know you can never be happy in?

"I-I don't know!" she finished, still confused and frightened, torn by indecision. "I-I want to, but I don't think-!"

She was interrupted by the sounds of the Human drivers of the Airboat returning to set out.

"Quick!" hissed Aenao. "We have not got much time.. Will you come?"

".." Ilia looked up into his face. Then, almost without realizing that she had said it, her mouth formed the word "Yes."

~*~

"Princess!" Whispered Aenao. "Wake up. We're landing!"

"Huh?" muttered Ilia, rolling over and slowly opening her eyes. She found herself lying on top of various sacks, the floor vibrating under her. For a moment she couldn't imagine where on Geara she was, but then she remembered, and for a moment she just felt an unexplainable rush of joy and contentment. She was away from the Castle, they had got away, she wasn't just a princess anymore. Still smiling, she sat up slowly and looked around at her surroundings.

Scattered around her were many boxes, filled with stuff to be sold in the Demonos and Human lands. She was in the cargo hold of the Airboat, right at the bottom. She looked behind her and found Aenao crouched at the only window that the cargo hold offered, looking out. She noticed, with a jolt of surprise (and a moment later she chided herself for being surprised) that he was still in his natural form, his Demonos form. See, Demonous had two forms that they could turn into, their real, demonos form and a human form. That fact was another reason why the Angelous considered the Humans inferior, that the Demonous could transform into them.

"We're almost there." He said. "We just need to go down a bit further, then we'll be there. I think they are planning to disembark on the big City of Kazeriacka."

"Oh?" asked Ilia. "Um, is that good or bad?"

The demonos turned round. "It's good if we want to go straight to the Demonos palace, but bad otherwise, for the town of Kazeriacka is always swarming with Humans, all of who will betray us for a single gold coin, although I have a feeling that the people who will be on our heals will offer much more than that for us-and especially you-alive."

"Well, I suppose that can't be helped." Said Ilia, unwilling to break her feeling of well-being and contentment with worries about what might happen if they were captured. Just then, a thought struck her. "Oh, Aenao, I can't believe I didn't think of this earlier, but where exactly are you or we going to go?"

"I do not know." He said, considering. "I know where I ought to go-but I am afraid to."

"Afraid to?" repeated Ilia, puzzled.

Abruptly, the demonos turned around and stared around out of the window. When he did speak, his voice was choked with emotion.

"The demonous who I was with." He managed to say. "They were all my trusted friends and companions. Fefaltica will have had all the survivors of the battle put to death. Every single one. The families of those Demonous trusted me to keep them safe. They all trusted me, and I let them down.. I can't face those people, knowing that I failed." He stared out of the window, his black wings twitching in his agitation. "That is not the only reason, though. In our culture, it is often better to be a dead hero than a defeated, but alive, demonos. In the latter case that demonos is often treated with contempt, and if all of his companions have died, then he is often banished. I do not fear this- I deserve it- and I would not care if it were not for my own sense of shame, and the knowledge that I am probably too important to be banished makes it all the worse."

Ilia sat there with her hands over her mouth. She had a very kind, forgiving nature, and always tried to cheer people up when they were feeling down, but what could she do for this?

"I feel all the worse for the fact that last night I did not even try to look for my companions bodies" he went on. "But I was startled, and if I dare admit it, afraid for myself. Also, the fact that I thought- forgive me, Princess- that this was a trap to get information from me about my peoples' positions. I see now that I was wrong..."

Ilia opened her mouth to say something, but whatever she was about to say was lost, as the airvessel jerked suddenly beneath them, and they touched down onto land.

"We're here." Said Aenao. "I suggest we wait for a few moments before dashing out of here."

"Y-yes." Stuttered Ilia, excitement taking over her again.

"My true form will be too recognizable, and we don't want to draw attention to ourselves, not for the moment, anyway. I will transform to human form."

He concentrated for a moment, then suddenly, a black dust cloud seemed to appear around him, hiding him from view. When it drew away, a human, the same human that Ilia had first seen deifying the Angelos Lord, was standing in his place.

"Now, we have to be careful." Said Aenao. "One slip and we are both dead. Follow me!"

They dashed through the airvessel, past crates and boxes, to the exit. Mercifully, no-one was there.

"Thank Amarat, we've got the luck of the damned." Gasped Aenao, at which Ilia looked at him queerly.

"Explain later- come!"

No-one seemed to see two figures appear out of the side of the airvessel and walk into the marketplace.

Ilia looked around her with her mouth open.

"Welcome, Princess," said Aenao, "To the city of Kazeriacka."

Ilia could just look around and gasp in awe. Thousands of people milled around, mostly Demonous, with the odd Human thrown in. Cross-looking housewives looking for good-quality supplies, young girls collecting water from the well surrounded by a crowd of admiring young men, soldiers buying swords and arrow polish..thiefs mingled with pie-sellers, and wise men with snake-charmers.

"Quick- round into the backstreet." Hissed Aenao from behind her. "Try not to look anyone in the eye."

"Huh?" asked Ilia, still looking around, fascinated by the crowds. Abruptly, Aenao grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her behind a tall stack of straw.

"Hey! What do you think-!"

"Sh! For Ezekiel's sake, hold your tongue!"

Ilia opened her mouth once more to protest again, but then she caught sight of what had alarmed the demonos beside her, and fell silent. Coming towards them was a large phalanx of demonos soldiers, all of them heavily armed, and so it seemed, riding to war.

Aenao wouldn't let her make a sound until the last foot soldier had passed.

"What was the matter, Aenao?" asked Ilia. "I mean, I know they were soldiers, but I don't see what-."

"Think. They are looking for Angelous. You are not only an Angelos, but also the eldest daughter of King Pramajia. They would not have waited to ask questions, but either would have seized you and carried you to the palace, or would have killed you outright."

Ilia sank back down onto the straw, her mouth open in shock. "I- I didn't realize..I didn't think..."

"Well, Princess, you had better start to think and act like someone on the run." Said Aenao, not unkindly. "I know that it will be hard for you, having no experience, but you must try, otherwise we will be captured."

Ilia swallowed. "I-I didn't realize." She said again, but then seemed to make a decision. "But next time I will. I will try to learn, Aenao."

"Good." Was all he said. "Now- the main question: what now?"

"I don't know," said Ilia, standing up and shakily brushing her dress down. "It's your decision."

"I-I don't know either. I mean, I know my duty, both as a Demonos, and as the High General of the Demonos Lord. The thing is- I am afraid to do it." His voice had sunk to a whisper, and when he next spoke it was as though he was unaware of her being there. "I am also tired; tired of war and fighting. But..how can I just turn away from what I know is my duty? And this prophecy; the Demonos who will come and unite the Angelous with the Demonous, and will become the greatest Lord the cosmos has ever worshiped- if he succeeds. The Lord would wish that his son is destined to bear that burden- but I think otherwise. But what can I do? And what about her? I can't just leave her.."

Ilia stood there, not knowing what to say. Deep down she was hoping that he wouldn't leave her, although, she told herself that it all depended on him and what his plans were.

"Very well." Said Aenao, coming to a decision. "To go to the King would be to give the princess up- I cannot let that happen."

Turning round, he smiled at her. "It looks like we have the fortune to travel together, Princess."





So? Whadda you think? I know, I know, it's too long..sorry! ;_;! Wanted to make it shorter, but I just couldn't........sorry! So, what did you think of it, aside from it being much to long? I think it's a good start, but it needs to be shortened down a little bit! Next chapter, you find out what exactly King Pramjia's gonna do to stop the prophecy coming true...