The Fool! In every sense of the word, this "Demon", this D'vari, was a Fool.

The sheer audacity, even as he tossed another of their attackers towards the stone walls like the toys they were, had to admit to himself, this D'Vari had audacity.

He glanced over to the side, at his Magess, measuring her progress in turn. Admiring for a second even as he split open yet another demon her grace in dealing with three at once.

She was poetry and grace in motion, and she seemed to...almost, and a pity that, enjoy it. Almost, but not quite yet.

Magnificent in her cunning, beautiful in the pure viciousness of her attack, she showed herself everything she'd been trained to be. A living weapon for his leisure, a graceful dancer of death.

And yet, one small thing he could never train out of her, and was no longer sure he wanted to. Even as she drove her long poled blade through the last of her current challengers she whispered softly, "I forgive you."

Forgiveness, how he normally despised that, it was in so many weakness alone. A willingness, even a craving, to put aside the inevitable horrors live brought, rather than bring them to heel. Ah, but in her, her and so few others, he could count the ones he knew on the fingers of one hand and have fingers left over, it was a strength of another sort.

The Rin child had it, as did the Kchronaen, and the Rin child had taught it to Thirteen, or tried to. And for those rare few it was Strength in what it invited to follow, the swift and the clean. Wiping the floor, as it were, with an opponent, and then, upon those soft words, needing no further encouragement to move to the nest task or target.

And his Magess was focused on service and obedience, to him. But not completely, she harbored misgivings still. Misgivings on the necessities of violence, on the imposition of will. If he admitted to himself the "Uncivilized' ruthlessness he had brought to her land and life. Misgivings embedded deeply enough that it might well remain for millennium, a vestige of her once-ceaseless struggle, still unsubmissive.

He smiled, feeling the satisfaction in her performance against this weakling so-called demon, and in the thought of his continuing reshaping of her mind and soul. Be it days, weeks, centuries, it never failed to satisfy him.

Even as he savored the moment, the demonling's forces turned and fled. And that was puzzling. The tales his Magess borne him had called the land of the beings origins by a name he'd not encountered in travel. He had by now, little doubt that amongst the scant places it could therefore be. It was part of Elysia that best fit the description.

This D'Vari, one among those who hailed of darkness, but resented and despised the reality of what he was in turn. Despising what darkness itself was, and preferring to twist it instead to their own pettiness and whims, their own stupidity.

How much more satisfying, then, this crushing of the demonling's attack upon the most recent, yet longest lasting, of all his dominions. What better act of vengeance, then to show the weakling's incompetence and unworthiness to call himself one among demons, or among any Elysians at all?

Indeed, if it the title of demon being sought, more now existed in this very land to qualify, to say nothing of what had once been.

The shouts of his soldiers called his mind back to the battlefield. A route, now. The demonling's hoards beaten back, their magically laden defenses sapped by the Magess's power.

This attack, in and of itself, was clumsy, coming from seemingly no where, granted, using gateways of several forms. But meandering, no focus, no real goal. No inertia or force to speak of in the attack.

That was....troubling. From the few stories he had been able to pull out of her on matters, and the ones Diamond had been able to give him. The weakling had always been foolish in regards to grand strategy, Wasting power and influence, and on more than one occasion, to merely satisfy the never-ending, petty grievances that gave him no greater gain than to watch some opponent's demise. The foolishness of loosing presence of mind, of focus and drive, placing emotion above learned sense.

Such was unwarranted for one seeking to claim such a title as "Demon Lord". But in turn...for all the weakness of strategy, he himself had learned to much of such opponents' tactics often providing far more decisively comprehensive. Normally the demon was brilliant in terms of combat outpouring, as it were. Yet here, he was clumsy, and that was rankling. What he they...he...somehow missed?

The magess dropped to one knee, she was leaning towards exhaustion, that much was clear. Her sapping the defenses of the fodder sent and making sure she would stay at his side drained her.

He gave a single nod to numerous lieutenants, they themselves knowing full well the tast of cleansing a battlefield, and he turned with her, an arm around her waist to steady her and let her feel...if not there ever now being need for remind of...his presence, and dominance and control of her life.

Once, that had been ever so violently resisted, his presence anathema to her very sensibilities as a woman and mage. In resistance to his will and influence on both herself and her world. Sensibilities bordering almost on haughtiness, at times, when seeing to stare him down as best she could manage. And she could almost do it once or twice, almost.

Now, now her head leaned to his shoulder, her allegiance to him firmly established, and indeed still growing. This was an act, both knew and had no need to mull over, that gave her extreme comfort and even pleasure.

He walked with her to the music of his fanatics victory cries. These men deserved it, they had survived the creatures' rampage. Their joyful boasts that nothing and no one, Army, divinity, force of nature, or now force of hell...could stand against Nivian might, against the power of it's Emperor-King who personally lead it's soldiers more often than could be counted, and every time to victory.

And to these warriors it mattered not if the victory was easy, or as it was this time, difficult. Never of any concernt to them because they knew without doubt of it's inevitability. Any price was worth paying to be one of his soldiers, to watch as yet another enemy, another land, bowed before them.

But even while it pleased him, he didn't care. What was another kingdom fallen, another land ruled by force? He had over four dozen such lands under his control with another two about to succumb.

Ah, but ruling another's desires and needs, challenge more satiating, even to him. And challenge indeed, in his magess. For centuries now, since first conquering her, this woman once avoidant of conflict as if disease, of fame as if torture, now fighting tooth and claw against forces grim as death.

her desire for peace, for gentleness, near constant in her, as always, but now....now lessons in satisfaction in power and lust, also taking equal root. Lust for him, granted, and by now "Love" in turn, mixed thoroughly throughout...but lust regardless.

And when in opposition, the need to please him easily holding sway of draw over the other. Let the soldiers savor the bloodbath for now. She never did, once the need for fighting was over.

He reached with his left hand up and behind her back, coming to grip the back of her neck firmly, turning her to face him. He savored the texture of her hair against his skin, her sweet scent, and pulled her body up against him.

So much about this woman was worthy of attention, especially from one who knew how to handle her, rather than those rank and pathetic weaklings that had once ruled. A quiet exterior hid a fire he was only begining to tap. And he dispised those fools to blind to see it.

So many things about her deserving of having one who would earn her loyalty. Treat her as more than the weapon he made of her, or a the trophy she had first been. So many fools who only saw her as a servant and ment to keep her there.

In those color-changing orbs of hers he could see them all, and more. Love, lust, compassion, ruthlessness...All that a woman needs to be...and she was becoming.

His fine heirloom blade, more dear cherished than Sicarra. With that blade he could conquore worlds, with her, he could conquor souls.

The walked the long avenue to the palace together in triumph, their honor guard around them, chanting peons of praise for the might of their Emperor-king and his Jishin, his mercy.

With deep bows, the opened the doors to the palace and he lead her in, smiling once more as he bent to kiss her sweet lips once more. She stiffened and suddenly her powers flared and he felt himself forced to the floor.

He growled then, "Ji...." and he saw it, red and running down his arm, blood with little pieces of flesh in it. He looked up and saw demons, two of them holding dead servants in their arms, the others preventing the servants from crying out.

Then he looked at his Magess. Was it one hundred years or only a single second. He mind he knew would never know the difference. The entire right side of her chest was missing except for a few ribs, her could see her now struggling heart.

By all that was dark and unholy, who had DARED, how had they. His blade was out and before the demons could react he slew them all. Yet he was surprised with himself, he felt NOTHING.

His soul was cold and numb as he returned to her side, kneeling and lifting her head so gently into his lap. So much to say, so much to ask, but all that would come out of his throat was "Why?"

He needed to know, wanted to know. He was Immortal, unkillable. He saw her struggle to touch him, comfort him, he took her hand and pressed it to his cheek, willing her to live, to save herself.

But her eyes told the truth, the light in them was fading fast, dimming. Nothing he could do would halt it, he was powerless. Then it came, so softly he almost missed it

"I lo..."

It never finished, her breath gave out and her eyes burnt out. Death took her from him so quietly he couldn't even strike it, couldn't tear it's throat out!

He held her to him, not caring about the blood that soaked him to the skin. She was, was....SHE COULD NOT BE! He wanted to rise, to strike at the Kchonean's god for this...ABOMINATION.

He found he couldn't, the pain he felt was worse than anything he had ever felt in his life. His soul burned, his vision tinged as red as the flagstones of the courtyard.

and the source of that pain was nothing, he couldn't feel rage, hate, fury. His soul had gone cold, and that had NEVER happened to him before. He leaned over and pressed his hands against the stone, trying to push himself up.

Another wave of that soul killing pain, she was GONE, his fists clenched, clenched through the very stones. He could see the servants who survived this backing away, their faces masks of pure terror.

LET THEM FEAR. Jishin was DEAD. HIS MERCY KILLED. But with it also seemed to go his hate, his rage, it was all there draining out with her blood on the floor.

For the first time in his entire existence he was actually tempted to pray to the Kchronaen's idiot god, if he could just BRING HER BACK. But he didn't, he couldn't. He didn't want to hear him say "No" he knew it would destroy him.

Laughter reached his ears, cold and mocking. He turned his head towards it, so cold now, he had never felt so cold. The figure was lovely, in a totally inhuman way, beautiful, graceful, but NOT Nivian, not Arrahn. And it looked down at the shattered body and smiled.

He forced himself to his feet then, ignoring the green blood that flowed from his hands as his fists clenched tighter, driving his nails through the flesh. He could feel SOMETHING growing in his chest.

"So the Nephilim bitch is dead."

Those words triggered it, whatever lay buried in his heart and suddenly he could feel all his rage, hatred, anger, fury pour through him. but it was a colder version, he didn't feel the fire, didn't see the green glow that usually came.

At his back he could sense the servants dropping to the floor like they hadn't since the first days of his reign. Why were they suddenly so terrified of him, he hadn't needed to discipline a servant in...over one hundred and fifty years! They obeyed perfectly.

The creature before him DARED to smile into his face! "You have lost her, and will NEVER find her again." He felt his fists clench tighter, the pure hate in his soul grow stronger. he had never felt a hate like this, it was "Cleaner' more "pure' than any other hate he had felt before.

"Hope...."
"less...."
"ness...."
Each syllable was torn from him like throwing up shards of broken glass. Each syllable tore his heart and soul a little more, "Hopelessness." He could hear his voice cracking in a way it never had, not even when the Kchronaen had driven that damned blade into his body. "You bring hopelessness to me, little demon? You think to TAKE from me what you Know i VALUE?" He turned his head and saw his reflection in one of the mirrors, no sign of power in his eyes, only the burning of the words in his mouth and the blood on his flesh. "This is well...Little D'Vari...."

The demon inclined his head and then said, "You Value HER? Not even Elohim values HER, she's NEPHILIM, an ABOMINATION and WORTHLESS." And then he laughed.

"Bold words, calling her, of all creatures, an abomination. I remember long long ago, Abominations, Abominations and desolation. Darkness that comes in Wrath. I have heard it ALL, Little D'vari!" he tries to breath, "ALL! I have....."
"...Lost..." he closes his eyes against the pain, shaking with it.
"...h...her...and...w...w..will..."
"...NE..NEV...NEVER...G..G..GET...H...H..HER..B..B..BA..." he can't finish, it hurts him to much, he's NEVER know this level of pain. How could she be GONE. She wasn't SUPPOSED to be GONE. That DAMNED pretender was supposed to take him away from her. NOT ALLOW HER INNOCENCE TO BE KILLED!

The voice that speaks to him is sickeningly sweet with false sympathy, "Indeed, she is FINISHED here. Finished so many worlds."

And he felt something in his soul break, absolutely and completely and his eyes come to life, the glow reflecting off the marble walls, "THEN YOU WILL DIE, D'VARI!"
"EVEN...."
"If I..."
And the next words he expects the pretender to strike him down with lightning for as he challenges EVEN him to keep his beloved from him, "HAVE TO TEAR DOWN HELL AND HEAVEN!"

He can feel things changing, the green glow on the walls is now mixed with silver, gold, gred, purple, more colors, the windows glow. But his foe, his foe only laughs, "And Condemn yourself back to hell? Maybe even my part of it?"

"HELL???? WHAT IS HELL TO HER!" and he points to the still and silent form on the floor, "LET ME TELL YOU, MINOR DEMONLING....SHE...IS...WORTH...IT!!! AND A THOUSAND TIMES OVER!"

The look of SURPRISE on that face....."That little Nephilim bitch WORTH it? THAT MISTAKE!"

He DARES to call her a MISTAKE, she wasn't, she was the finest clay, the purest marble, the rares of metals. He had shaped her with an artists hand, spoke to her with a poet's voice. He CARED about her more than anything else he had known. And in his hands he felt something.

At first he didn't know what it was, then the threads made themselves known to him. The Forest that the Magess had cared for was giving him power. The wolf pack she talked him into sparing, the mountains, the plains, and then, the MAGES. ALL of them, feeding him power and spreading the word.

He can see the power forming around his hands as he prepares to call his full old self to him, call Sicarra, call the Darkfire, the Darkheart, Darklust, all his old powers to himself, the demon's words confirm his intentions, the price he will pay to punish this FOOL for destroying HER. "Do it, Do it and DAMN yourself."

The power around him hits a crescendo, he can feel the storms, the beasts of land, sea and sky, the mages of fifty worlds give him nod and agree with him as he readies the strike that will send him back to hell, but even THAT will be less painful then trying to live on without...HER.

And he HOWLS, "SHE IS WORTH IT!"

The ONLY thing marring the perfection of this moment, when his new life and his old marry in perfect harmony is the fact there is no FEAR in the demonling's eyes, only that Mocking grin, "Oh, I will ENJOY telling her now her beloved master damned himself and so failed her in her next life...If I let her live long enough to remember."

".........NEXT LIFE..........."
"Telling her.........."

He laughs, "Of course, When i find where she will be next, DAMNED little Nephilim cockroach. There are still a few worlds I haven't found all her bloodline and killed it off yet. And it will be FUN to have her morn you like she's morns so many others. To know she'll only see you again in her dreams."

"...Be Next...."
".....So...Certain....So Certain are you?" She was...Not alive, but NOT ended. D'Vari hadn't eliminated all her bloodline like he told her? "I am NOT as others are...Little demonling....You speak of it yourself.
"I made it HERE, after all, D'vari. I can make it WHEREVER...Will be needed. I WILL find the woman, again. I will...Discipline her, as needed. Something that will bring further laughs to you, no doubt...And then...Then...I will deal, in turn...with assorted......Difficulties in her training. Things you likely wouldn't care to understand."

Hope sang in his chest, HE WOULD FIND HER, HE WOULD FIND HER. Part of him wanted to dance for JOY, even as part of him still wished to weep.

"You need not worry...I'll continue your current training of her. Teach her own low she really is, how WORTHLESS. Enjoy her body, I will be gracious and leave it to you."

He hid everything he was feeling, nodding back and smiling. A thinking machine had once said of him, "He was among the greatest deceivers the worlds ever knew." And with pride he lives up to it now, "As Ideal a notion as that may be...Few things surpass the notion of breaking with one's own hand. Of havng the...sat...is...fac...tion... You may teach her numerous things, yourself, young demonling...but time will come when I WILL find her, through all the worlds. And then...Teach her..as...Exquisitely...as can be done."

Mocking laughter was the demonling's only reply as he started to fade, and the Demon-Lord of Nivia unleashed the power gifted to him. It didn't touch the demon...instead it...opened a gateway, a doorway.

He called out into the void, "Laughter indeed, speck of my darkness. Laugh at your conqueror well. I conquered empires beyond your ken long before you were ever conceived, and I will live on after your....neutrality.....by MY own hand. Laugh well for now, little demon. The chimes now turn to your own fate."

He stared for a moment at the gateway, and realized it was stable, at least for now. There was something more important he had to do. He sat down beside her, and brought her head against him, cradled her body in his lap and rocked her.

He stroked her face, he dark red-black hair. "It's OK, Insei...It's OK..." He never called her that name in public, her old name, her REAL name on this world. It had been for intensely personal and private moments between them. Now it was the only gift he had left to give her. Giving her back the self that Gold and the other took away from her.

He swallowed then, fighting the tears he could feel, he would NOT shame her by crying, he was the Emperor-King of Nivia, he was the NIGHTMARE of worlds, such a man didn't cry.

"I Will..."
"I Will......"
"I will UNMAKE THIS!"
"I...will...UNMAKE! I...Will...Change...This...."
"Some day."
"This will NEVER occure AGAIN!"
"THIS...WILL...NEVER...OCCUR...AGAIN!!!"
"Even...even if...."
"Even if uncounted...beyong knowing ages, must pass in time, EVEN IF FOREVER!"
"...I Will....I Will UNMAKE THIS!"
"Be....Bel...Belo....Beloved!"

His head comes to rest against the remnants of her right shoulder. He never called her that before, never admitted it to himself, he was...He was an evil man, he never wanted or needed to love before, and somehow this woman got into his heart. She had done what so many others had tried to do.

He lost the ONLY person who had ever defeated him. And she never knew she had done so. She had BEATEN him, and even HE hadn't noticed, unseen by the servants, by anyone else, he let a single tear fall, it touched her cheek and almost seemed to melt into it, then he brought his hand to his face and removed all sign of what he had done.

He uncrossed his legs and moved her firmly into his arms, then, through pure power of his body alone, he rose to his feet, careful not to jar her. Moving her head to his shoulder, the lack of breath against his neck reminding him that she would never again nibble his neck, bite his ear.

He carried her up the stairs and to the rooms they shared, he thought, for a moment, about taking her into the small chamber that was her private room. but no, he wanted her HERE, where he so often made her happy, he thought she would like that.

He carefully laid her out on his bed. arranged her hair the right way across the pillow, to hide that hidious hole in her chest he pulled the covers up over her and carefully crossed her arms over her stomach. It was MUCH better, she looked almost like she was sleeping.

For a moment he felt he was in one of the Rin Child's stupid fairy-tales, where the kiss from one who loved would awaken the sleeper. He leaned over and pressed his lips to hers. As always fairy-tales are a fucking JOKE. She was GONE.

He turned away and walked over to his private liquor cabinet. They were still there, exactly as he had set them out this morning, before they had gone to war. The bottle of rare Lychee fruit wine that his magess loved so much, and the two beautiful crystal glasses he had made just for them. he takes the glasses and sets them out on the table, pouring a precise measure of wine into them.

Her glass, Red, gold and green, the colors of nature and life. His, Red, silver and black, the colors of death. He lifts not his glass to his lips, but hers. Taking small delicate sips, savoring the flavor, she was right, it is a very delicate and delicious wine. And he would have rewarded her well for her recomendation.

Each time he lifts her glass to his lips he salutes her. She had taught him so much, had helped him stay here longer than he had ANYPLACE before. He remembered her defying him, telling him to back off and leave her alone. He remembered her crying and begging him to not kill those rebel's children, and her finally revealing the secret of her "immortality."

He remembered her telling him that it was over or nearly so, the last of her bloodlines were either wiped out or about to be. And the only man she wanted to renew them with, couldn't sire a child. And since she couldn't have that man, she wanted him to choose for her. It had taken him a few seconds to realize she ment HIM. But he hadn't been able to make himself do it, hadn't been able to make himself choose, he was HERS and he couldn't make himself share her. If she had picked for herself, he would have allowed it, but he couldn't bring himself to pick for her.

He remembered her trying to lie to him about what Gold had done to her once. Telling him only that it was nothing she couldn't handle. He let her believe she had tricked him, then had a LONG talk with Gold. He remembered the times she had moved to deal with those his parole required him not to touch.

So many years, so many memories, he knew how much she loved this wine, because she would beg for it often. Yesterday, he had finally aquired some, it was very expensive, because it was so seldom made and in such small quantities. But he had gotten it, in the end what was money but a tool, he could always get more.

To quickly her delicate glass is empty, he takes up his, that he'll never drink from again, and presses it to her lips, saying softly, "For you, Insei, Mica, Jishin...Foolish to take wine without freedom for you to partake as well, No?"

He can hear her voice, even now, so soft, so gentle, "Not if you do not wish me to?" Always so pleasing, always so loyal once he had convinced her he wasn't going to use her. Self sacrificing to a fault. Giving him everything she was and more.

She cannot drink it. and it goes back to the table untasted by her. No one else will drink it, he knows. he takes his finger and gently dips it into the wine and rubs it on her lips then kisses her one last time. Even in that she was right, the wine tastes even sweeter on her lips than it did in her glass.

from the table he take the one weapon he didn't take with him to the battle field. the tripple bladed knife that was his personal weapon. The knife he used to open his arm to force her to drink his tainted blood, the knife he had used once to cut off about a foot of her hair to discipline her.

He let himself drop to his knees and plunge the blade into the floor, it went in to the hilt, and he dragged it across the floor in the flowing script of Nivia. It carved deep, as indestructible as it's owner. If only she had remembered that.

He carved his last orders to his people into the floor. He knew he would be obeyed. The Nivian were the most loyal of people he had ever tamed to his hand. No, that THEY had ever tamed to his hand, the magess had helped him win them over completely.

Honor her body
I will return in time
With her soul
Again as MINE.

And with that, he cut a single lock of her hair with the dagger and tucked it into his shirt before heading out the door and down to the courtyard. His destiny awaited him, in the person of Insei. He WOULD find her again. He never once doubted it.

He was, after all, Tegatane.