I apologize beforehand for any amount of overly dramatic tendancies, and for taking so long to create this chapter.

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A Devil's Appeal-Chapter 30

Aureus had only traveled about an hour when the first attack came. He wasn't surprised, not really...the council members were too smart about their greed and power to let someone carrying the knowledge he had live out a single day longer. However, they weren't near as smart as they thought...they failed to account for the years he had spent training for battle that these second-rate attackers clearly did not have. It was easy, so easy, to knock them flat on their backsides within minutes, not hurting them but not giving them another chance to ambush him either. Unsurprisingly, as soon as they realized they were no match for him, they took off running. It was the end of that particular attack, but Aureus wasn't foolish enough to think that that was the end of the council's attempts to rid themselves of him, and he was proven right a short while later.

It was much harder for the second group to be scared off, much, much harder, and Aureus had to conclude that it was due mostly to one section of their attack force. Possibly the only section that was even the slightest bit threatening, and the only person Aureus could ever remember who, if such a thing was possible, lived for the blood and gore of their profession. His father had been like that...but this young man relished every slash, every strike, whether it was against his victim or being delivered upon himself. He would bleed, but he would grin despite it. He fought the entire attack out with a smile on his face until finally only he and Aureus were left. Aureus was forced to consider his opponent somewhat apprehensively. The way he moved...it spoke of training, but hell if he knew where it had come from.

The man was taller than him by maybe half a foot, and his hair was smooth, neat, and true black, much like Marius' locks. However, it was clear that he was not an angel as Marius had been...and it was just as clear that he was not a devil. He seemed to be an odd sort of hybrid of the two, but it was stange...such a person should not have been able to exist, and Aureus could only wonder at his orgins as they circled one another. Strange, so strange this man...and so very, very dangerous. While Aureus had been fending off the attacks of many, this one had waited patiently for him to grow weary, and now stood with full energy as Aureus had to force himself to continue moving. This was very bad news...Aureus was half terrified that he would never get to see Salax again. If he died today, he would never get to see his devil again, and he would never know if he could have been happy. It might seem strange for others to risk a person's past surely on what could have been, but not to Aureus. He wanted to be loved so, so badly by his devil lord...he couldn't die.

He had braced himself for a final futile attack when suddenly the other man stopped, paused in front of him consideringly. He tilted his head, narrowed his sharp, strange eyes at him, and crossed his arms, almost like he was listening to something that only he could hear. Aureus stared back at him uncomprehendingly, not understanding why he was not attacking. Finally, the raven-haired man moved...but it was not threateningly. He bent to pick something from the ground, and held out his hand, gloved in black, and offered Aureus something. Upon closer inspection, he realized that it was the map he had dropped, and a small amount of provisions that were clearly offered to him in peace. Aureus only frowned at him, and shook his head. Aureus didn't say a word; he had the somewhat irrational thought that the man would not have understood the words that others spoke. The man continued to smile, and hold out the items.

Take them. I have no need for them. The words were not said, but they whispered across his mind nonetheless, and Aureus somehow knew that this was what the man would say if he had been able to. He shook his head again. The food, after all, might be poisoned.

Not poisoned. See? He pulled off a piece of the small loaf of bread, and ate it before him. Aureus was reminded somewhat painfully that he had not eaten for roughly two days and reluctantly took the food from his hands. It was warm, solid, and real...odd. He had expected it to disappear from his fingers the instant he touched it, but both the map and the food stayed in his hands. He heard a soft laugh from the man, and he looked up. This man...he was different, in more ways than one. Somehow, he knew the course of his thoughts, and Aureus didn't know how he could compete with that. How could he escape back to Salax if he didn't even know his own thoughts?

He didn't have to. The man understood his fears, and actually bowed respectfully, moving backwards away from the battle scene.

Do not worry; get back to your devil. I do not kill lovers. Without a single spoken word, he took off like the rest, but not in fear as they had done. He left, moving through the trees in his path like an animal, like a bird about to take flight. For some reason, Aureus had been spared this time, spared to go back to the man he loved. He didn't question it, not once: somehow, somehow he knew that he shouldn't. He had the uneasy feeling that he was the only person who had ever been spared by the creature, and he wasn't about to change that.

He sighed, and continued along his path back to the underworld. He still had a long distance to go before he was back with Salax. Back where he belonged.

II

DAY 15

"My lord," the small messenger began, shivering violently when Salax looked at him dispassionately, not even with hatred. Somehow, that look was far worse than any glare or blow could have been, and the messanger could only be relieved when he turned his cold eyes away. However, not a word was said, niether to continue or leave, so the messenger wasn't entirely sure what to do. He was new to the job, so he wasn't sure what to expect: he had heard rumors, however, terrible rumors about being burned to ashes by his anger or falling victim to the lust he carried with him. Needless to say, the messenger wasn't very thrilled to be in the position he was in: one wrong move, and he was a goner. He sighed inwardly. He had to at least get the message out.

"My lord, the an-angels have ch-changed their constitution. You have to be born an angel citizen to rule now, not just mated with one." The messenger half-stuttered, half tumbled the words out as he had been told to do. He really wasn't sure why this particular message mattered over much...Lord Salax didn't have a mate, much less an angel mate. Did he?

Salax nodded, closing his eyes as a deep pain coursed through him. Of course...he had expected something like this, but he hadn't wanted his expectances to become reality. No...he had wanted anything other than that. It was odd, however, that he felt this way, especially now. Over the past few days, he had lost complete and total interest in anything having to do with taking over the Kingdom of Angels. Revenge, justice, whatever it would be called, it no longer appealed to him, and why? Because he, of all the creatures in the underworld, had fallen in love with another traitorous angel.

He scoffed lightly at himself, a clear tool meant to erase the sharp pain he was feeling, one that did little good. Well, actually, now that he thought of it, Aureus wasn't a traitor at all...he was just as dreadfully loyal as he had always been. The only problem was that this time it was different, because, as a true testament to his weakness, Salax wanted him to be loyal to him, his forced mate, instead of his people. It was damned foolish, even for him...what the hell was he thinking? Fourteen days, not even that, and Aureus was suddenly supposed to renounce his life-long loyalty to his race for someone he hated...when would he learn? He was thinking with his heart (useless organ) instead of his mind, and, as usual, he had been fooled. Pure, beautiful Aureus had been toying with him all along, ruling his emotions with a masterful skill and stealing his weak heart. Even the things he had once seen in his eyes now seemed like the performance of an actor, and he couldn't take it any more, because, no matter how his mind spoke, his heart refused to believe that Aureus' every action had been anything less than true. Had it all been a lie? His heart said no, but the facts said yes. He couldn't go on like this, couldn't keep remembering him like this...it was the same reason he no longer visited his own room, or the dining hall any longer. The same reason he no longer ate or slept, becuase he couldn't take the memories that were connected to the acts. Sweet heavens, he couldn't even look any of his subjects, because the very sight of them whether they were happy, unhappy, angry, or anything else mad him sick inside. He just wanted Aureus back. He just wanted the pain, pain unlike anything he had ever felt, to stop. Just for a minute...he just wanted one more minute with his angel, just one. God he was pathetic.

"Leave. Get out," Salax said softly, and he heard the fearful quaking of the messenger in his boots. Stupid, stupid boy...he shouldn't dare to come here when his lord was heartbroken. Whoever sent him would pay for that as soon as Salax was capable of punishing them. The man, however, did not appear to be finished. Salax lost his temper.

"Are you deaf? I said leave! Go!" But still the man only shivered in fear, not budging. Salax sighed, and collapsed weakly back on his throne. Fine, he would let him finish.

"Never mind. Finish your message."

"There is a visitor for you, my lord. I don't...he didn't give me his name. He is an angel, if that helps any."

Salax's back straightened at the words. No, it couldn't be Aureus. Surely he knew that the instant he set foot on the lands of the underworld Salax would never let him go again. No, Aureus was too smart for that. A fatal flaw, perhaps.

Nonetheless, Salax sighed, and tried his best to look like he wasn't broading over the angel's leaving. Just what he needed, to let him know that he controlled his heart as well as his wrath. No amount of clothes straightening or finger combing his hair, however, could fully erase the sleepless look in his eyes, or the lean, hungry shape of his body. He really should eat and sleep, but he hadn't wanted to see Aureus' image every time he looked up or closed his eyes. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. If nothing else, he owed Aureus a few choice words for making him fall.

The little messenger showed Aureus into the room, and the instant he turned from the doors all the shouting and cruel words Salax wanted to say seemed to die as they passed his lips. His white, angel clothes were dirty, their angel magic failing them, his pretty face was slashed with dark bruises and he carried two circles under his eyes. He, apparently, had not slept much either. And, surprisingly enough, there was even blood on his skin...clearly his journey had not been easy. Salax wanted to hold him, dessipate his pain, even as he wanted to hurt him for leaving, for ruining his plans. For betraying him. Instead, he laughed softly, the simple sound filling the room with bitterness.

"Well, well, what a pair we make. Tell me lovely, did you have fun in the Kingdom of Angels?" He didn't give him a chance to do anything else than look at him helplessly. "You made a mistake coming back. I am not very happy with you at the moment." An understatement to rival all understatements. He was furious with him for leaving, and slightly annoyed that he had foiled his several hundred year long plot. Yet, at the same time, he just was happy to see him. He was so glad he came back, no matter what reason he had for doing so.

Aureus sighed, even that little sound seeming sweet to Salax. "I did not come back to fight, Salax."

His voice came out angry again. "No? Why did you come back then, I wonder?" He all but snarled the words. "No, let me guess...you came back to boast of your accomplishments."

Aureus looked shocked that he would even suggest such a thing, and maybe he was. He probably didn't know that Markus had torn at him with the truth, since he had been so busy for the last few days.

"No!" The cry was honest and sharp, but Salax refused to fall for it. "I came back because-"

"You wanted to learn more ways to betray me-" Damn that word! "-to your precious angels?"

"No! Salax, please just listen to me." He sounded so distressed that Salax was forced to pause, and close his mouth. He didn't want Aureus unhappy, regardless of how Salax himself was feeling. However, for all the sense his next statement made, he may has well have gone on speaking. Or ranting, he supposed.

"I missed you, Salax."

He laughed loudly to hide the thump of his heart against his chest.

"Oh, like that is anywhere near the truth. Nobody ever comes back for that. Once they get over their sex addiction, nobody ever comes back for me." It was true...Salax could never believe that anybody would ever actually come for him.

Aureus winced, and looked away. The action was so purely sorrowful and hesitant that Salax had to hold tightly to the anger he felt. Even so, it began to rapidly deplete.

"Salax, would you believe me if I told you I loved you, or would you laugh at me again?" he asked softly, looking at him with his head bowed. His words were mumbled, so it was difficult for Salax to be certain what he was hearing. He couldn't help but hope, however, that his ears were not mistaken. Love...there was no way that he could believe that Aureus had formed such a lofty emotion for someone like him.

"I would..." Yet, for some reason, he could not say the words. "I would believe you."

Aureus looked up at him hopefully, eyes shining. For some reason, he had tears in his eyes.

"Then I love you, Salax. I came back because I hoped...I hoped that you might have missed me, just a little. Without the benifit of land or power."

They stared at each other for a moment, each one silent for a different reason. Finally, Salax stood, finding enough strength to leave his position on the throne and stand in front of Aureus. He wondered if he was telling the truth. It looked like at least he thought he was, but he had been fooled before...or had he? Markus was hardly a person worth trusting, and surely nobody could be as good of an actor as Aureus would have had to be to be as vicious and self-serving as Markus claimed. Of course, Salax wasn't quite sure he wanted to trust his heart based only on that. Perhaps he would ask some questions.

"Is that why you came back?" he asked softly and because he had missed him despite the pain, he cupped the side of his face lovingly. He was so glad he was back...and he was even happier when Aureus didn't show any signs of hating him or his touch. He pulled back with a sigh, looking at his fingers where they rested on Aureus' throat. For the first time in his life, he supposed he was going to have to be a bit blunt.

"Markus was a friend of yours, wasn't he? He is dead now."

That surprised him, obviously, and he covered Salax's hand with his own, forcing him to look at him.

"What? How? What happened?"

Salax shrugged like it was nothing. "I killed kim. He made me angry." Surely not even you can love me after this. No amount of acting would hide such pure, natural revulsion as he was sure to see on his face.

He didn't looked disgusted however...merely disappointed in him. Aureus sighed, looking at him sadly.

"Oh Salax, what did he ever do to you to deserve death?"

More than you could ever guess. "Nothing to me personally. It was more an assualt on a friend of mine." And please don't ask anymore. He didn't want to go into details, expose more of himself than he had to. He was so relieved that Aureus wasn't the deceptive person Markus had claimed him to be.

"What? But Salax...he was my friend." He sounded absolutely crushed, and so so broken in his opinion of him. It somehow hurt more than disgust.

Salax made a sound of frustration, and grabbed him by his shoulders, shaking him lightly.

"He was hurting you, Aureus!"

"No, he wasn't."

Salax sighed, and released his grip on his shoulders, smoothing out the crumbled fabric of his shirt. It was amazing, really, that he was even alive...what right did he have to ask him to love him or believe him? He had done enough damage.

"Yes he was, Aureus. When you fell ill, it was because he had poisoned you. When the column of the Chamber of Memories fell, it was because he made it do so. He...he was trying to hurt you." There was nothing else he could say. "I had to get rid of him...he might have killed you."

He pulled his hands away. Now Aureus knew...the admission was as good as saying 'I love you.' Even though Salax wasn't the sort of person to hesitate to kill someone for any number of reasons, killing for another was hardly one of them. Yes, he had exposed his feelings enough that anybody who knew him at all could find the declaration of love, and as Aureus' eyes widened, he could tell that he hadn't missed it.

"Salax? You...you love me? Really? Oh, please tell me this isn't another one of your games."

"It isn't."

Aureus smiled at him and, amazingly enough, kissed him fiercly, pressing himself close and sighing happily.

"I'm glad. I love you, Salax."

He sighed, relieved, and closed his eyes with a sharp jolt of pure happiness.

"I love you also, Aureus. Please don't leave me again."

"Never."

Salax sighed, kissing him lightly, and just stood there in the center of his throne room holding his mate. Things were finally starting to look just a little bit better.

The End

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(bows) This is the end of Salax's and Aureus' story, so please, tell me what you think. Even if you have never reviewed before, I would like you to review this chapter, sort of to sum up the story in general. I hope to hear your opinion on other stories I will be writing later on, including the one that will eventually pop up about other characters who have appeared in this story. :)