The Letter of the Law
Lucifer’s patience drained away more rapidly as the hour drew nearer. Everyone he had gathered together could sense his building tension, and the danger that came with it. When his fingers started to drum impatiently on the armrest of his throne, even those in his inner circle who usually kept close, edged casually away, hoping to put some distance between themselves and his inevitable wrath, without drawing the Archangel’s notice.
The rich sounds of the choir he had assembled to mimic his true home echoed throughout the gleaming hall. But underneath those soothing layers of sound, stood an unmistakable silence of some sort. Everyone could hear it, after a fashion, but not one would have dared draw attention to it.
Hell’s most powerful Fallen, dressed in their finest, milled about, growing more and more uncomfortable as their host’s mood darkened. But, like any self-respecting underbeings with some sense of self-preservation, they all plastered on the appropriate expressions, mimed the appropriate behavior, and did their best to show the public face their Master expected.
“Well, I do appreciate a good show as much as the next multi-dimensional being, Old Son.”
Lucifer jumped at the voice on his elbow, turning to face the guest of honor with a subdued fire already in his deep shining eyes.
“But if it’s meant to influence me, you must know by now that it’s a wasted effort.”
The fire became somewhat less subdued. “You’re late, Asher, and rude. Why not use the door like decent beings?” Lucifer asked with a feigned smile, wishing he’d left off assembling his coterie since he was now overly conscious of his audience and the almost bored expression on the Keeper’s face.
“Doors,” Asher scoffed. “I’ve little use for doors, and even less use for your judgement on whether or not a being is decent.” He paused and gave Lucifer a look that made the Arch shift slightly in his seat. “And while we’re on the subject of things I have no use for, we might come around to how I feel about being summoned.”
“Your presence is required …”
“Required?” his voice rose. “I am here as a courtesy. Do not forget that. You hold no dominion over me or my work, in this realm or any other.” Asher’s voice was commanding. And loud. Almost stern.
True silence rippled through the assembled Host. Even the choir wavered.
Lucifer stood. “Everyone out,” he ordered, his voice ringing with his authority in this place. Though his voice was level, pleasant even, white hot rage burned in his eyes. He was at his most dangerous when his superiority was challenged, and the Keeper was a being for whom it wasn’t even a question.
The Fallen knew which side their bread was buttered on. And they also knew the sort of expression that usually saw heads rolling. Literally. An almost panicked air settled over them as they practically fought for the exit. The doormen nearly closed the doors on the slowest in their own hurry to not be the mortal beings left in the room when Lucifer was done speaking with Asher.
Lucifer resumed his seat, taking a moment to arrange himself comfortably on his throne. With a measured breath and a supreme effort to smooth the anger from his features, he began, “Lord Asher, I do thank you for coming. I appreciate your willingness to hear my claim. As a courtesy.”
He paused, expecting some sort of response, but Asher just looked at him. Lucifer was put in the mind of the way an owl might look at an interesting bug it spies crawling up a tree trunk on Earth. He breathed deeply again and went on.
“I have a grievance, and ask for your judgement as the Keeper of the Scales and Arbiter of Treaties between the realms.”
Read the rest in The Twelve Days of Fic-mas – Holiday Tales With a Twist Vol. I