Remain. [NaNoWriMo '16]

[Sequel to NaNo '15 novel Run.] Ruling the world isn't as easy or as fun as it sounds, especially not when a group of angry angels are thrown into the mix. What's worse is that Baxel is without his right-hand man, who just so happens to be the key to everyone's plans.


18. Seventeen: Full Custody


    Damian convinced me to stick around long enough to clean up a bit, and to order a few doctors over from the nearest hospital and to help explain what was happening. I wasn’t thrilled, but, well, when was I ever. 

    “Who’s in charge now that Venti is…” I trailed off. “Well, let’s be honest, judging by what Damian said happened, he’s probably dead. So who am I talking to?” 

    The small group of magicians who weren’t tending to the injured or unconscious looked at each other. 

    “I think it should be Griffiths,” Damian spoke up from my side. His professor shot him a look of surprise, but no one protested. 

    “Okay,” I agreed blindly. “And that is…?”

    Griffiths stepped forward. “Me.”

    “Cool,” I said. “Come on, we’re going to drop a shit ton of information on you, so brace yourself.”

    His face set in determination, Griffiths nodded. “Okay.”

    As I led the way to the empty conference room, I added, “Also, can I call you Griffin? It’s a much cooler name.”

    “I’d rather you didn’t… re-name me,” Griffiths replied. 

    “What’s your first name?” 


    I thought it over. “Eh.”

    Griffiths sent a look at Damian, who just shrugged helplessly. Once in the conference room, I took the seat at the head of the table, with Griffiths and Damian across from each other. “Alright, so where were you when the Great Flood happened?”

    Blinking, Griffiths replied, “Are you talking about the biblical flood?”

    “Yes.” When Griffiths hesitated, I snapped his fingers. “Right! You weren’t even a thing. You weren’t even a concept. That’s why you’re going to take my entire word for how it went down. I know you ‘good guys’ always get so hung up on these things, like ‘Ooooh but he’s a demon, what if he’s lying to me,’” I said in a mocking voice complete with wiggling fingers in the air, “so none of that, okay? Damian will vouch for me anyway.”

    Griffiths looked between us, wondering, as so many people did, what our relationship was. I ignored him, as I tended to do. “Also,” I continued, “save your questions for the end.”

    Form there, I launched into the same story I had told Damian - the Watchers, the sex with human women, the monstrous offspring, the wrath of God, the flood - then finished by saying, “So now that they’re back after being locked up for an excruciating number of years, they’re more than a little salty, as you can probably tell.”

    It took a minute for Griffiths to comprehend all of this, but then he began, “So… they’re angry at God for locking them up, so they want to rule humanity? As revenge?”

    “Yeah, sort of,” I answered. “From what Damian told me they said before my dramatic re-entrance, it sounds like they want God to intervene. Either because they want to fight him, or because they want to use his opening of Heaven’s doors to make their own way in, I don’t know. 

    “Regardless,” I continued, “if I were you - which thank Satan I’m not - I wouldn’t be too hopeful about God lending a hand. If he were to come at all, I can guarantee you that the world and society and the humans of now are ten thousand times worse than the ones he sent the flood to kill. You’re all vain and hateful and intolerant. He’d just as soon wipe out the world again as save you.”

    Griffiths grimaced. “That’s encouraging. But what about God’s covenant with Noah? No more floods to wipe out humanity?”

    I gave him the same look I might give an idiot three year old who asked why the sky was blue. “Okay, first off? Half the Bible is bullshit. Trust me on that, I was there. And secondly, you think the only way humanity can be destroyed is with a flood? Come on, dude.”

    “Basically, what you need to know is that the angels are starting an army of super strong humans with light powers,” Damian chimed in. “And they have a vendetta against God which is easily transferred to humanity. Oh, and they hate Baxel because he’s an ass.”

    Griffiths’s eyes flashed with concern as he looked towards me as if waiting to see if I would destroy Damian where he lounged in his chair. I just shrugged. “That’s not untrue.”

    “Okay,” Griffiths said slowly. “So, how do we lock them back up? We need to know more about them. How can they teleport? How powerful are they?”

    “Very,” I answered. “They teleport through light the same way I teleport through shadows.”

    Griffiths looked at me. “I don’t know how you do that.”

    I sighed. “Fine, okay, I’ll give you a magic lesson in sixty seconds or less, but only because I think the GITS will be most useful doing your stupid scholarly research stuff instead of being on the front lines, at least until we come up with a plan. If you guys can find a way to weaken them, we might stand a chance.”

    “Tell me.”

    Taking a breath, I launched into my explanation. “Info-dump, starting now: You know there’s Heaven and Hell, Light and Dark, Angels and Demons, with Earth in the middle. Angels control light, mortals only have energy magic that draw from their own strength - which is really inefficient - and demons control shadows. Got that, right?” 

    Griffiths nodded. 

    “Okay, so Hell is a plane, Earth is a plane. In between those two planes is another called the Nether. It’s a shadow realm that was created when God sealed off Hell. Since the shadows still needed to exist on earth, but they couldn’t dwell in Hell anymore, the Nether became their home. The same thing happened with light, and that in-between realm is what you all know as Purgatory, but souls don’t go there for ‘purification’ or whatever. They don’t go there at all. Only angels and light-beings can go there, like the Nephilim once they get strong enough and figure out their powers.” I paused to take a breath. 

    “So, when the angels teleport, they really go from earth to purgatory, then travel through there to above where they want to be on earth, then drop back to earth. But while on earth, they can only control the light around them, just like I can only control the shadows around me, in this plane,” I explained. “But, like me, they can spy through light. If you come across anything vital that you need to keep secret from them, only talk of it in complete darkness. Utter darkness. Otherwise, if they’re watching, they’ll know.”

    Griffiths nodded. “Okay. That’s a lot of information, but I think it’ll help.”

    “Just remember, they’re The Watchers,” I pointed out. “Always watching.”

    Before Griffiths could reply, Damian spoke up, “Something I’ve been wondering - how did you escape when God shut the doors to Hell? Why are you the only demon and Sirio the only angel allowed out?” 

    I looked at him. “You know, that’s one thing I never quite figured out. I always assumed that it was because we were such weird mixtures of light and dark, you know? We’re half and half, technically, but I can’t control light any more than he can control dark. But he still has demon blood and I still have angel blood. Maybe we’re just so confusing that they couldn’t figure out where we belonged.”

    Damian tightened his lips. “Huh.”

    “Whatever, I’m not complaining,” I said. Turning back to Griffiths, I said, “Either way, you can choose how much of this you want to share with the GITS. At this point, it doesn’t really matter to me. Just remember that your task is to find some kind of weakness that can help us, and if that doesn’t work, prepare for the fight of your lives.”

    “I’ll do what I can,” Griffiths promised. “But our numbers are a lot fewer than they used to be.”

    “Enlist everyone,” I told him. “All your branches across the world. If you need flights or anything to get them here, let me know and I’ll dish out a few commands.”

    Griffiths nodded. “Thank you. I’ll get to organizing that right away, but first,” he said, turning to Damian, “could I talk to you for a minute? Alone?”

    I scoffed, “Alone is quite a concept when I can hear everything through the shadows.” 

    Damian shot me a glare. “Don’t listen,” he asked of me. “Actually, shouldn’t you go check on Sirio?”

    He had a point. “Oh, yeah, I actually should. Fine, you guys talk or whatever, but when I come back, I need to talk to Damian.”

    Rolling his eyes, Damian muttered, “I feel like a kid in a custody battle.”

    “Let’s be honest, you’d choose to live with me,” I said with confidence. Damian gave me a look. “Alright, alright, I’m going.” 

    I stood from my chair and I went but not without a dramatic burst of shadows. After all, I had a reputation to uphold as the cool parent. 




    When Baxel left, he did so by drowning the room in swirling shadows. With a sigh, Damian waved his hand and forced them to disperse back to their usual corners. “Sorry about him,” he told Griffiths. “I don’t always know what he’s thinking.”

    “It seems like most of the time, you do,” Griffiths observed, settling back into his old mentor role now that Baxel was gone. 

    Damian scowled. “What did you want to talk about?”

    Leaning forward, Griffiths put both his elbows on the table and asked, “Damian, what’s going on?”

    His brows lowering further, Damian replied, “Baxel just told you. The angels-“

    “Not about that,” Griffiths interrupted. “What’s going on with you?” When Damian didn’t immediately reply, Griffiths continued, “Look, the last time I saw you, you were about to go into your final level of training. Then Baxel attacked, you and Taryn disappeared, and we thought you were dead. When she turned up again with that story about some ill relative, we didn’t really believe her,” he said, shaking his head a little. “But we took her back. We would’ve taken you back too. We still would.”

    Damian didn’t comment. He kept his eyes down. 

    “And now after the world’s been half destroyed, you come walking back in here knowing all this stuff about angels and demons,” Griffiths continued, something akin to awe in his voice. “And I saw you in that fight. You used light and dark. We didn’t teach you that.” He paused. “And then there’s Baxel. Baxel - the ruthless demon who’s killed how many people, who rules the whole of humanity - and listens to you. You not only ordered him to do something and came out of it in one piece, but he actually listened.”

    Having his past few months summarized like that threw Damian. He had no defense, no rebuttal. It was all true. 

    “I don’t think I know you anymore, Damian.” Griffiths sighed a little, his eyebrows pulled up into a sad point. “After your dad died, I started to think of you like the son I never had, but… I lost you. You’ve changed.” 

    “I haven’t,” Damian tried to protest, his voice flat on the surface, but with an almost desperate edge underneath. “I may have discovered some new powers, but I’m still the same person.”

    “You’re working with a demon,” Griffiths pointed out. “A demon who we’ve all hated for all of our lives.”

    Damian didn’t know what to say to that other than, “He’s not as bad as he seems. I think you saw that just now. He’s not as vicious and cruel as everyone thinks, he’s just…” Damian shrugged. He didn’t know what Baxel was, but he knew that he was far from the demon Damian had grown up believing him to be.

    Griffiths didn’t look entirely convinced. His voice was quieter than before when he asked, “Could you have stopped him?”


    “Could you have stopped him from destroying the world like he has? Have you been at his side this whole time?”

    There was pain in the professor’s eyes, and Damian could see it now. How many people had Damian let down, betrayed? By not stopping Baxel, was he becoming the same as him? 

    “No,” Damian insisted. “Well, maybe, but I didn’t know what he had done until just a few days ago.”

    “How?” Griffiths asked, incredulous. “It’s been everywhere.”

    Damian swallowed, feeling almost embarrassed to admit, “I was off the grid in Africa. I didn’t know anything until just recently, and I’m going to make him fix it.”

    Griffiths gestured with a hand. “See? This is my point. How are you going to make him fix it? How do you have that power over the demon that controls the whole human race?”

    “It’s complicated,” Damian replied. He didn’t know how much to tell Griffiths, not because he was worried about the information getting out, but more because he didn’t know how much he wanted Griffiths to know. 

    “You can trust me.”

    Damian glanced up at him. “You already said I’d changed. If I tell you, I’ll never seem the same to you.”

    Griffiths titled his head. “If you don’t, the same thing is going to happen.”

    Sighing, Damian gave in. He didn’t want to admit how desperately he needed someone to talk to about everything that wasn’t the demon who was responsible for it all. Damian couldn’t help but seek advice from the one person he still trusted. “Baxel can’t control me.”

    “What do you mean?” Griffiths asked. 

    “The ring. It doesn’t work on me.”

    Frowning, Griffiths replied, “How? It has to - it works on everyone with mortal blood.”

    Damian shook his head. “It works on everyone with a majority of mortal blood.”

    Griffiths surveyed him for a long moment. “But your parents- their blood was diluted by generations and generations, there’s no way-“ He caught a glimpse of Damian’s expression and stopped. “Oh. Oh.” 

    “Yeah,” Damian muttered. He pushed his chair back from the table and stood. “Well, now you know. I should go.” 

    “Why?” Griffiths asked, standing too. 

    Damian wouldn’t look at him. “I’m half demon.” He could hear the disgust in his own voice.

    “You’re half human too,” Griffiths replied, then amended, “Well, part human. Part angel. Part demon. Wow, you just have it all, don’t you?”

    “Yeah,” Damian spat. “I have it all. My parents are dead, my sister hates me, and my best and only friend is a slightly unhinged demon.”

    “Damian, sit down,” Griffiths offered, and Damian sighed, but obeyed. Griffiths, too, returned to his seat and looked at Damian from across the table. “Your blood doesn’t decide who you are. Look, I just found out all our ancestors are angels that God himself locked away. But that doesn’t make me inherently bad, just like Baxel being your father doesn’t make you inherently bad. All it does is give you a unique advantage - you have powers that no one else has. And more importantly, you have a connection with Baxel that no one else has.”

    Damian took a breath, then nodded his reluctant agreement. 

    “I think you’ve already started to use that to your benefit, and the benefit of the world. That’s what makes you good,” Griffiths assured him. “You’re never going to be the same as you were before,” he told Damian. “But you can be better.”

    “I’ll try,” Damian promised. 

    Griffiths smiled at him. “There’s work that needs to be done now,” he said. “But I’m always here for you. And whatever you think, Taryn doesn’t hate you. She just misses you.” Damian didn’t reply to that, and he didn’t respond when Griffiths stood, rounding the table and clapping Damian on the shoulder on his way out. 

    He didn’t respond, but he also didn’t feel quite so despondent as he did before.

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