“My word this place is cold!” Tansear’s voice cut through Malachi’s day dreams sharply. He turned to his friend, smiling.
“Is poor little Tan cold?” He teased, almost playfully. Tansear sighed and turned a stern eye on the younger Daemon.
“Watch it Malachi!”
“All right, all right! I’ll behave… of course your word isn’t worth the blood it’s signed in.” He glanced towards his friend quickly just to make sure he didn’t get hit.
“Mal?” Tansear’s voice was deadly. The younger Daemon froze for a second, then started walking again.
“Yeah Tan?” Malachi squeaked as Tansear yanked him to a halt, the grip on Malachi’s shirt tightened as he hissed:
“Say that again and I’ll have your guts for garters darling.” His friend paused then pinched his cheek. “You’re just lucky you’re cute Malachi.”
The young Daemon glared at Tansear’s back as he trudged on through the calf deep snow. He hated it when Tansear did that! He growled and ran to catch up with him.
Malachi shivered in the cold and pulled his cloak tighter against the flying snow. He shivered again and quickened his pace. Before them loomed the tower of choices. The brilliant black and white marbled stone gleaming in the moonlight. The two stopped short at the sight.
“Well, here we are.”
“I still don’t believe he’s making us do this…” Tansear sighed and started moving towards the tower. “So much for Dulra being a halfway.”
“It is a halfway. Just a more… holy one.”
“I know that! Its one of the reasons I don’t want to damn well be here!” Tansear growled, then sighed impatiently. “Oh come on! I want to get this over and done with!” Malachi could tell he wasn’t really mad, his friend never sighed when he was mad. The younger Daemon had a feeling that Tansear was just as excited, just as wary as he was. He’d never admit it though. He smiled at his friends back and the two Daemons walked on in silence.
“Damn it! Where are the bloody doors! They ought to be-”
“-Right in front of us.” Malachi finished for him as the older Daemon slammed head first into the doors. He yelped and sat down sharply into the snow.
“You could have warned me you little…”
“Tan!” Malachi offered his hand, then smiled as Tansear pointedly ignored it and hauled himself to his feet. The younger Daemon stifled a laugh and patted Tansear on his back.
“Don’t push your luck.”
He shrugged and turned to the door. It was magnificent… that was only word that seemed to fit it. Carved from fire oak and panelled with willow. Malachi placed his hand against the fire oak, smiling as the heat entered his flesh. Grown in the warm soil of the underworld, fire oak never lost the heat it gained as it grew, even after it was harvested.
“Push the ravens eye Mal.” Tansear muttered from somewhere in the vicinity of trying to brush the snow of his pants.
“Which one?” The older Daemon glanced up.
“The one right in front of you, you idiot.” Malachi sighed, kicked out at Tansear and pressed the eye of the raven carved in a panel of willow. The door creaked open and the being from within poked her head out. The Angel blinked in the darkness and taking note of the two Daemons on the doorstep pushed the door open.
“You’re here for the bonding, I take it.” She murmured, her voice sweet and silky. Malachi nodded gently; he didn‘t want to scare the poor thing. The Angel started down the hall and Malachi stepped into the tower. Carvings and murals covered every scrap of wall space, they even covered the ceiling. The hall was lit with warmly glowing sun globes. Tansear shoved past him, glanced around and started after the Angel.
“Come on Mal.” The younger Daemon started and rushed after his friend. Catching up with him he flashed Tansear a shy grin.
“Tan?” The older Daemon didn’t reply but instead placed his arm around Malachi’s shoulder. “Do you think this’ll change everything?” Tansear turned to face him. He smiled and pulled the younger Daemon into a hug. Malachi pulled away surprised at his friends gentleness.
“I keep forgetting just how young you are Mal.” He muttered, reaching out to stroke Malachi’s head. The younger Daemon shivered at the strange show of kindness. Tansear quickened his pace in order to catch up with the Angel and Malachi was happy to follow in silence.
The Angel led them up a flight of stairs and then paused by a door of fire oak.
“You’re a tad early. So you’re gonna have to wait a while. Your master has not yet arrived.” Her voice had the strange effect of making Malachi think of the sea.
“I know.” The Angel turned to him at this statement. She smiled gently.
“Yes, I don’t doubt that you do.” She turned away from him and leaned against the door, her body spoke of ease yet her eyes told a different tale. The Angel was wary and Malachi was pretty sure he knew why. Well why shouldn’t she be scared, hell if he hadn’t known the truth he’d be scared shitless of his master. Belief had a hell of a lot to pay for.
He dragged his thoughts from that path and took the opportunity to study the Angel. Her eyes were serpent green, her hair dark brown with flashes of tawny gold that hung down in waves to her hips. Her skin was as pale and as smooth as milk, with full blood red lips. Her hips were flared in a pleasant fashion and her face friendly. Her wings were withdrawn giving her the appearance of a mortal. The two Daemons weren’t fooled though, the tell tale scent of Angel clung to her. Much as the scent of Daemon clung to him and Tansear. There wasn’t anything that could change that smell.
The younger Daemon jumped as a knock sounded from below. The Angel moved to stand up but Malachi was quicker.
“I’ll get it my lady Angel.” He gave in answer to the questioning look shot at him, from more then one pair of eyes. Tansear smiled at him in understanding and then caught up the Angels arm.
“Now don’t you worry miss. Mal here knows what he’s doing.”
Malachi didn’t wait for her reply. He took the steps two at a time in his haste. He leapt the last few stairs, landing on his hands and knees. Springing up he raced down the hall way before skidding to a halt in front of the main doors. The young Daemon took the time to straighten his shirt and hair. He couldn’t wait to see his master but he wasn’t about to let him know that.
He placed his hand against the door and it creaked open. The figure standing in the doorway was magnificent. His skin was a shade of brown Malachi had no name for; it was as his master was. Too dark to be called tanned, yet too light to be called black. His white hair that hung down to his shoulder blades was tied back. His eyes were silver like the moon. Malachi sighed in amazement at his beauty and dropped to his knees in submission. His master knelt down and lifted his face to his own. The kiss was always the start and Malachi knew by heart what was coming next. He smiled to himself and then jumped in, going with the flow. His masters hands were gentle, his mouth hot and his body hard…
Malachi listened to his master’s heart as he lay against his chest. The beat was slow and sure and strangely reassuring. The young Daemon stretched out, his sweat slicked skin rubbing nicely against his masters. His master’s hand strayed to his back and slid down to rest against his thigh. Malachi sighed and drew away from the embrace reluctantly.
He grabbed his pants and pulled them on under the watchful eyes of his master. He slipped into his shirt, the black silk stroking his skin nicely. Malachi wasn’t stupid, he knew why all Daemons where expected to ware the black silk. His master liked the feel of it, if he had liked pink tutu’s they would be walking around in those. He winced at that image. Malachi turned his back on his master as he went on a search for his shoes.
When he turned back, his master was already dressed in his own cloths. He sighed gently; he’d been hoping to watch him dress. His master beckoned him forward and then wrapped his arms around the young Daemon.
“Are you alright Malachi? Not scared?” As always his voice caught at something deep within Malachi’s body.
“I’m fine my lord.” His master moved his face closer to his own. Silver eyes bored into the Daemons soul.
“I’ve told you my name, little one. I did so because I want you to call me by it.” He leaned forward and demanded the kiss that would have been freely offered. Malachi pulled away.
“I’m fine Delaren.” Malachi felt a thrill pass through him as his master’s true name rolled off his tongue. His master was known by many names, Satan, Lucifer, and Hades to name a few. Yet only a few knew his real name and even less were allowed to call him by it. His master hugged him close in thanks and brought his lips to the young Daemons neck. Malachi drew away reluctantly. “Please, Tansear will be worried.” Delaren nodded.
The two walked up the stairs side by side. Malachi was calm now; all the fear and uneasiness had been washed away the moment his master had stepped into the tower of choices. He turned to look at Delaren a smile playing across his face. Malachi jumped ahead of his master and pushed on the door at the top of the stairs. Soft sighs met his ears.
Glancing around the door he spotted the source. The Angel was on her back, Tansear above her. The two were naked their flesh gleaming. Tansear’s hand was caressing her flesh, his mouth at her nipple. Malachi drew back, he’d seen enough. He closed the door and then leaned back against the stone wall, carefully avoiding Delaren’s eye.
“Let’s give them a while, no?” He suggested. His master moved towards him.
“Malachi?” His voice was low, warning of rocks ahead. The young Daemon glanced up at him; his master’s expression was expectant.
“What are you doing? First you couldn’t wait to get up here, now you won’t go in.” Delaren did not sound happy. Malachi grinned at him, uneasily.
“Playing you for a fool?” He answered trying to lighten the mood. His master’s eyes flashed and Malachi yelped as he was lifted off the ground.
“You better hope not.” Delaren hissed the nails of his spare hand raking into the young Daemons arm. Blood welled to the surface as his master moved his hand lower. The first Daemons grip was unbearable as he caught up Malachi’s wrist and slammed it hard against the wall. Something cracked followed by an explosion of pain in his wrist. Malachi cried out more from surprise then pain. Delaren froze and his face softened. He leaned forward and rested his forehead against the younger Daemons.
“I’m sorry pet.” His voice was heavy with grief and Malachi had the distinct feeling that his master was ashamed of his reaction.
“No master, I should not have spoken as I did.” He spoke to reassure his master, to calm him. Delaren was having none of it.
“Shut up.” His master reached out for his wrist, the skin was pushed up but not broken. The young Daemon wasn’t sure whether that was a good sign or bad. Delaren’s breath left his lungs in a rush as he surveyed the damage. “Oh my poor baby, Look what I’ve done to you…” He pulled Malachi towards him and the young Daemon could only step into the embrace. His head was pushed against his master’s shoulder and Delaren refused to let him raise it, placing one hand on his head when he tried. A sensation was building in his wrist, a burning that wasn’t hot. Soon his whole arm was tingling.
Malachi shivered and tried to pull his arm away but Delaren’s grip was unbreakable. The Daemon gave in and let his master work his magic, pretty soon he was actually enjoying the sensation. Then it stopped and suddenly as it had started. Malachi was left with a strange sense of loss. He leaned against Delaren suddenly sapped of all strength.
“There you go my pet, all better now.” His master smiled at him, his hand moving Malachi’s wrist towards the young Daemons chest. Pulling away, he turned to the oak door and opened it.
“Thank you.” It took a lot for the Daemon to whisper those words and he was rewarded by the look of shock that passed over Delaren’s face so quickly most would not have recognised it. Malachi knew his master too well for his own comfort.
Inside the chamber Tansear had retreated back to the wall he had clamed and the only evidence of what had just passed was the slightly dazed expression on the Angels face. Malachi had to smile. His friend just loved to create havoc, his smile was fleeting as fear at what was to pass began to build within his gut again. He felt a hand on the small of his back and Delaren pushed him not too gently into the room. The Angel glanced up as they entered then started when her gaze fell on the first Daemon.
“Is every thing ready?” His master’s voice was devoid of warmth.
“Yes sir. Every things ready sir.” The Angel replied completely cowed. “If sir will just excuse me I’ll inform my lord that you have arrived.” Malachi winced, she was good. The Angel padded away hips swaying without realising it and slipped out through the second doorway.
Malachi counted to five slowly before turning to Tansear. He walked towards him, grinning. Tansear just stared at him warily, his friend was no fool. Malachi shrugged and dropped the charade, hitting the Daemon powerfully around the back of his head.
“You sod Tansear!” Malachi wasn’t sure what he was mad about. Yet as soon as it came it was gone leaving a feeling of unease in its wake. His hand dropped to his side and then rose to hover against his mouth. “I’m sorry Tan. I don’t know what came over me.” The older Daemon smiled gently and shrugged.
“Don’t matter Mals. I guess I kind of deserved it anyway.” Malachi blinked, that was the closest thing Tansear had ever said towards an apology. The older Daemon smiled at his surprise and pulled him into a hug. Malachi sighed what was with people and hugging him today? He tried to pull away but that only caused Tansear to crush him to his chest even harder and then he was shoved away as the Angel stepped into the chamber again.
Malachi stumbled back and then landed in a heap at his master’s feet. Delaren gripped his elbow and pulled him to his feet. The Angel ignored the sight and beckoned them into the main room of the tower of choices.
Malachi and Tansear followed their master into the room all playfulness gone. No expense had been saved in the decorating of the chamber. Gold leaf covered what wall space that wasn’t covered in murals. Precious stones glittered in the eyes of the carving the slithered their ways across the ceiling. Jewel incrusted Sun globes gave off their rich light in the corners of the room. Malachi didn’t have the heart to be astounded as it was currently occupied with forcing its way out through his throat.
Leaning against walls or any other handy spaces were the Angels and Daemons that would bond this night. Delaren placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Go find somewhere to stand Malachi. We’ll start soon.” His voice held a longing that told Malachi all he needed to know but he turned his eyes to his master’s gaze. Sure enough Kamerl was walking towards them.
Unlike his master Kamerl let his name be known to all, Daemons and Angels. It was something everybody agreed upon, the name God really didn’t become him. Nor when one thought about it did the image they created for him. Kamerl was beautiful with soft grey eyes and jet black hair cropped close. He was long limbed and thinly set with a smile that could charm the birds from the trees. Malachi couldn’t fault his master’s love.
Walking over to a cut out in the wall he settled down and regarded his master and Kamerl. A warm feeling rushed through him at the sight of his master’s happiness, obviously creating a world with a person created a strong bond.
Of course the humans had to get it wrong. Kamerl had been acutely embarrassed when he realised that Delaren was thought of as evil, even more embarrassed when the humans decided he’d been thrown out of heaven. His master hadn’t cared though; in fact he found it quite amusing.
Belief had a lot to answer for. In the beginning there had been no difference between the servants of Delaren and the children of Kamerl. Then the humans started to think differently and everything went down hill from there. In the company of other Daemons or even Angels a Daemon could be as gentle as a deer, put them in a room with a human and they’d instantly start thinking ways of killing them painfully. It was the belief that did it, humans believed that a Daemon would try to kill them no questions asked and the belief would force the Daemon to do exactly as the human thought. It was the same force that made all Angels sweet as puppies around mortals.
That of course was the reason for tonight. When an Angel and Daemon bounded it stilled the process. When humans were met it was the Angel that made sure the Daemon wasn’t forced to kill. Of course it didn’t work with the Angels ‘cause they were as sweet as puppies, belief or no belief. The Daemons job was to protect their bond partners. In the beginning Kamerl had decided he wanted no Angel to fight. So they didn’t fight, they couldn’t. Unfortunately it also meant they couldn’t defend themselves when attacked. So that was the Daemons job, a hard one too, Angels seemed to have a knack for getting their selves into trouble they couldn’t get out of.
Beginning to feel the first snatches of boredom Malachi glanced around the room, his gaze coming to rest on an Angel. He’d borrowed his way into the space between one of the four pillars and the wall. Something within the Daemons chest tightened. He couldn’t tear his gaze from him. Malachi stared at him, drinking in his features like a dying man.
The light played across the Angel’s skin, making it appear to glow. His eyes were light green shadowed with olive. Golden hair that shimmered its way down to the small of his back was tied back with a piece of white cloth. The same colour as the long sleeved tunic and pants he wore. A rope belt rested around his hips and like all in the room he had withdrawn his wings.
Malachi shifted, he wanted to go to him but he wasn’t allowed to move until Delaren and Kamerl gave the okay. Hands touched his shoulders and he started, spinning around. Delaren smiled at him gently.
“Come Malachi, we’re going to start now.” His master steered him towards the centre of the room and as the others came to stand near him, Malachi glanced towards the Angel. His heart sank; he wasn’t there, his eyes danced around him. The Angel was no where in sight. The Daemon sighed and turned his attention back to his master and Kamerl. He couldn’t concentrate on their voices though; they washed over him like waves from the sea.
It didn’t matter anyway; he knew what he had to do. Delaren had insisted he know. The two masters finished speaking, glanced at each other then pulled open the second pair of doors. The ones that lead to the hunted passages. Malachi smiled and followed Tansear into the passages. It had begun.