Prince Seere sat on his throne. His back was straight, his eyes were glazed, and he was unmovable. He was fully engrossed in the inner works of his realm. He had to be. Hell was being more difficult than usual today.
<There you go. Easy does it.> He crooned to the land as he fed it newly arrived souls.
There was no telling how long he pumped æther into the land, but it eventually began to calm. That was only one of the many tasks he was working on simultaneously. The legions at the newly conquered pass had finished erecting a keep. He waited patiently for them to vacate the structure before summoning more power and funneling it into the masonry. Exquisitely carved symbols around the base shone brightly as power filled them. They grew brighter and brighter until they began to wink out of existence. As the disappeared, the energy channeled into them climbed to the top of the keep. Once the last one winked out of existence a shockwave of energy was unleashed. It knocked over a thousand men off their feet, but when the dust cleared a golden flamed burned at the summit. The golden fire reinforced the land around it and sped up its natural defenses.
Seere turned his gaze outward and felt the pressure of Beelzebub’s forces gathering to reconquer the pass. This would make it that much more difficult. That and the extra legion he’d deployed. With the pass secure his borders would be that much more protected in the endless game of war the lords of Hell played with each other.
Satisfied that Beelzebub would have his work cut out for him, he shifted his gaze to his other boarder. Caine’s necrotic scent persistently coated everything in the other lord’s realm, and hid any troop build ups. Seere wasn’t too worried. The weaker lord’s forces were limited, had limited training, and were half mad from the same curse that afflicted their lord. Seere’s own forces were set to redeploy in the next few months, but he had no qualms about the commanders charged with the Styx’s defense.
Seere was about to turn his attention to the interior of his kingdom when he felt something red and hot tear through his mind.
<Danger!> His body and mind responded to the threat.
Power flooded into Seere beyond anything any other creature aside from ætherial beings could comprehend. His body – already twenty-feet tall and armored – began to swell. The silver armor began to glow as power filled it. Seere rose from his throne standing nearly forty feet tall now. Anything more and he’d have trouble engaging in combat within his hall. His guards noticed the change and immediately began to circle around their lord. Their own power was nothing more than a drop in a pond compared to Seere, but every bit counted when it came to these types of fights.
Without warning the doors to his throne room were thrown open and brilliant light flooded the space. His guards screamed in pain as the light seared the eyes from their skulls, and they collapsed around him like dominos. Seere was not impressed. The light did not affect him like it did his soldiers. He sighed and lowered the massive sword he’d been holding in an attack position. He was reasonably sure he was safe, but he didn’t reduce his size and relinquish the power back into his land and throne.
“Brother.” Seere smiled down at the much smaller angel in the room. “All of this unpleasantness could have been avoided with a simple message.”
With a sweep of his hand the groaning bodies of his guards were tossed to the opposite side of the room. Part of it was to clear the battlefield, but he also just didn’t want to seem the writhing on the ground until their eyes grew back.
“We never drop in on each other anymore.” Lucifer shrugged as the light dimmed around him. “How can we truly be happy without a little spontaneity in our lives.” The smile the former seraphim gave Seere was bright enough to incinerate a human’s brain.
There was a reason Lucifer was called the Lightbringer and Morningstar.
“Very true.” Seere kept his guard up, but gestured for his brother to take a seat in a chair that sprung up from the floor. “I assume your spontaneity has a purpose.”
“Don’t be put off, brother.” Lucifer adjusted the flawless-white tunic he was wearing. “There eyes will grow back.”
“It’s inconvenient.” Seere’s retort was measured.
“And you have my apologies.” Lucifer inclined his head in a small bow.
Seere could sense it was the truth, so he let it slide. “I assume there is a reason you’re here?” Seere took a seat on his own throne but continued to hold onto his power.
Lucifer noticed. “I mean you no harm, brother.” Another truth. “I just wish to talk.”
After a moment to contemplate things, Seere shrunk back down to his normal twenty-foot size. If it came to a fight, he would be able to draw more power quicker than his brother. Lucifer’s lands were on the opposite side of hell from Seere’s kingdom.
“What do you wish to speak of?”
“A recent development that will work in both of our favors.” The smile was back, but no light radiated from it this time. “We have the chance to break a seal.”
Seals were a big deal. When their Father conquered Eden he built a barrier between it and Hell. The barrier – which an Infernal only had to look up to see – was held together by six hundred and sixty-six seals of their Father’s own power. Destroying a seal released that power into the æther and weakened the barrier between the realms.
Their Father was many things, but he wasn’t stupid. Breaking seals wasn’t a question of physical might, or Lucifer and Satan would have bashed them to pieces over the millennia. The seals were very specific and difficult to find much less break. If Lucifer had a line on a seal, then sharing it with Seere was a big show of faith. That or he needed the Prince’s help to break it.
“You have my attention.” It was Seere’s turn to smile, although he was still looking for the double-cross.
“Excellent.” With a flourish and a flicker of light a piece of parchment appeared before the other angel. “I’ve taken the liberty of drafting a binding agreement between the two of us for the duration of this partnership.” With a flick of the wrist the parchment floated on the air over the Seere.
Seere deftly caught it and studied it carefully. Internals were sticklers for details. One of their main streams of soul revenue was making deals. A rookie Infernal made some of the best human lawyers look like amateurs. An Infernal lord like Seere had deal making in his blood.
As such, the negotiations took a while. They went word by word, section by section, arguing the intent of certain clauses and defining them clearly so there could be no other reading of the contract than what was intended. The basics were all there: no waging war, operating in good faith, and open borders on Eden for the flow of information and resources. The nitty-gritty was in the details of power-sharing and who would supply those resources.
By the time they hammered out all of the details, the eyes of Seere’s guard had regrown and they’d taken up their old positions around the throne room. All that was left was the two lords to sign the pact in blood and it would be binding. The clauses for breaking a contract were always written into it and steep.
In this instance, it required one more revelation before signing.
“What is the seal, Lucifer?” Seere couldn’t help it if he was on the edge of his seat.
The last one had been broken by Satan over three centuries ago, and the power allowed him to take a large chunk out of Belial’s nearby kingdom and hold it. That kind of power would allow Seere to be rid of Caine once and for all. The elimination of a rival lord was an ambitious but reasonable goal in this instance.
“We must perform a ritual sacrifice of the sixth born of a fair Dominion.” Lucifer stated smugly.
“Kill the sixth born of a fair Dominion?” Seere frowned and nearly ripped up the contract. “That could mean anything! You know how our Father twists words to his whim. What does the ‘sixth born’ mean? Sixth born son? Or sixth born daughter? How do we define ‘fair’? It could mean anything, Lucifer!” Disappointment flooded through Seere.
“I understand your hesitation, but I have it all worked out, brother.” He gestured for Seere to be calm. “Since ‘sixth born’ is not explicitly defined if could be either a male or female. The ‘Dominion’ section if fairly straightforward. I’ve got the specific ritual sacrifice, which by the way alters depending on the region the Dominion rules.” Lucifer looked pleased with himself for figuring out that tidbit. “That only leaves the ‘fair’ portion, and as you’ve guessed it was difficult. Does ‘fair’ mean just, and if so what level of justice rates as fair? The good news is that we don’t need to worry about that.” Lucifer was smiling that brilliant smile again.
“In our case, ‘fair’ doesn’t’ have anything to deal with a mental condition. It is physical. ‘Fair’ refers to the fairer sex. We need to kill the sixth born Nephilim of a female Dominion using a ritual sacrifice specific to that geographic location.” Lucifer smacked his hands together in excitement, which was enough to ring the ears of everyone in the room but Seere.
“And the geographic location of a Dominion with a sixth born child is in a city under my control.” Seere pieced it all together.
“Yes.” Lucifer nodded. “And once you sign the contract I’ll tell you where and who we need to sacrifice.”
After rereading the contract once more to assure there were no secret clauses or ambiguous interpretations, Seere signed the document. Lucifer quickly scribbled hi own signature in ætherial blood and rolled up the contract. An influx of power duplicated the document, and he gave the copy to Seere. Seere double checked the copy and the original to ensure they were the same.
“The Nephilim we are looking for is Maria Delgado, daughter of Ava, Dominion of Charlotte.”
<Gerald.> Seere remembered his newest Dux, and wasn’t pleased to have such a rookie be entrusted with such a great responsibility.
“We need to move fast. Satan is always on the lookout for seals, and he’ll find this one sooner rather than later.”
<So much for replacing Gerald with someone more experienced.>
“I’ll send orders to my Dux immediately,” Seere assured his brother.
“I would also like to send some of my forces to join your dux. My own Dux, an imp or two, and some Soulless, nothing more; just enough to bolster your forces and deal with any problems they run into.” Lucifer placated when he saw the look on Seere’s face.
“Fine.” Seere stated after a moment of thought. “I will tell my Dux to expect them.”
“Excellent.” Lucifer got to his feet. “I’ll send out my own orders. Maybe I’ll see you upstairs.” He pointed up toward Eden and then vanished in a dazzling flash of light that left the guards screaming in pain.
“SILENCE!” The screams turned to whimpers, and Seere’s thoughts turned toward what needed to be done.