Chapter 25

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Lucifer's words no longer seemed important. We pushed our way towards the front of the crowd as he continued to explain his plan, his method for capturing a still living human soul, but I wasn't listening any longer. Alone I had wanted to remain inconspicuous, together as a group I got a little thrill knowing he would soon see us coming.

I wasn't so deluded with false confidence to assume that we were about to embark on some epic battle with a Lord of Hell and win. Lucifer would always be stronger, more powerful than any other demon – save for the other three Faces. We couldn't win a knock down, drag out fight, not ever.But we could get in the first blow, take him by surprise, catch him with his trousers down so to speak. He was a tyrant who wanted to appear to be working 'for the people', but we knew the truth, he wasn't working for the greater good of all of us, and we weren't going to listen to his lies any longer.

We could make him expose himself for what he really was, force him to stand up on that pedestal before he was ready to take it and see just how he really enjoyed that limelight.

He continued to drone on, his cold dark tone lecturing a crowd who were no longer listening as their own voices rose in a babble of malcontent that Lucifer could not possibly mistake for excitement.

"Preparations for this moment have been long, and extensive. There have been many failures along the way, but I never thought about giving up. No corner of Hell should be greater than our own. No corner of Hell serves as much purpose as we do. We deserve to have more. More power,greatness, recognition for the purpose we serve. All corners of Hell should bend their knees and ask how they can better aid our own cause.

"And now finally,here in our hands we have the solution to remake the balance. We take the greatest weight of the work, and yet all four corners of Hell reap the same rewards, this is not right. Now with one simple step we can throw off the shackles of this biased equality and bring ourselves the greatness we are truly deserving of."

With renewed vigour Lucifer's words resonated deeply throughout the vast chamber, ringing off of the walls and drawing back some of the attention that had lapsed. Perhaps he would enjoy the stark limelight we hoped to cast upon him after all.

The speech was surprising. He'd revealed far more about his plans than I ever thought he would dare to, making his intentions almost entirely clear to us all. All the talk of 'we' rather than the 'I' I knew he really intended still gave me enough pause to realise that our mission was indeed justified. But I had to admit, his words were impressive, and not so long ago I would have found myself cheering and clamouring fora taste of this so-called greatness that we all deserved.

As he finished, the cheers that he must have been expecting did not rise up and fill the cavern with gleeful enthusiasm . Instead a renewed murmuring rippled through the crowd once again and I hesitated for a moment. Was my power still enough to hold them all in sway? Or was the inherent greed and lust for power present in all demons going to overrule all we had tried to do?

They had to be tempted,it was in their natures and usually they'd have no reason to doubt a word spilled from Lucifer's mouth. Only my meddling inside their heads gave them a cause to think twice. Was my power strong enough to quell their desires? I wasn't so sure, even I'd felt somewhat swayed by his words, even after all that he'd done to try and be rid of me.

That's what I needed to focus on, the bigger reasons. The whole 'greater good' of our cause might have been the overt reason for everything we had done, but it certainly wasn't what kept me going. Deep down in my very heart I was still the naive, selfish creature I had been when I'd first been sent on that sham of a corruption case, and it was for me that I kept going. For all of the hurt and all the betrayal I'd suffered, for the ruin and death of my old life, and for revenge upon the demon lord who's blood I'd unknowingly shared for all these years.

I felt his gaze upon me. The heavy weight of those black orbs burning into my skin. We were almost there, almost at the foot of the platform and I wanted to look up and meet his eyes. I wanted to watch the expressions change on his face as we came at him, challenging and defiant simply by not standing and listening with rapt attention. But a very small, petty part of myself couldn't raise my head. Keeping my gaze fixed firmly in front of me, seeing little more than the well polished toes of his boots I kept walking. As ridiculous as it may sound, I didn't want to find myself looking up to him, I didn't want to crane my neck to match his stare.

Call it foolish pride or whatever but I wanted to meet him on a level field, literally,match him stare for stare. All my life he had made a big, imposing and intimidating presence. I'd cowered before him too many times,avoided his scrutiny whenever I could manage, and always craved to please him – though knowing it likely I never would. I'd held him in my mind with both fear and awe, now though I felt nothing but disdain. I'd learned the truth, and felt so much more than any other the weight of the consequences Lucifer's ambition had already created, and what more would come. We would meet again and I would face him as an equal, or at least I would fool myself into believing that to be true, and I didn't want to be looking up at him when I did so.

So I pressed on, not lifting my gaze from the gleaming toes of Lucifer's boots despite the temptation I felt to look at him. Lucas and Jesse flanked me on either side whilst Frank brought up the rear, towering above our heads and drawing all gazes towards our progress.

Lucifer had stopped talking, his grand and impressive speech never reaching the great conclusion I imagined he'd had planned. It was nice to know our appearance could cause him some measure of surprise. We veered right through the crowd at the foot of the platform and ascended the short stack of stone stairs. Finally on level ground, I looked up and met my father's eyes, matching his stony gaze with one just as cold.

"What meaning do you have for this interruption?" Lucifer said in a dark but measured tone, his anger written clear on his face, but in front of such a crowd I could see him strive to keep an air of civility. He wanted their support and respect, he already had their fear, and that fear did not need to grow further.

I forced a smile to my lips. "You make a very fine speech, unfortunately we know more truth than you have cared to indulge in us," I replied, inwardly cringing at my lofty tone and grand words. I wasn't so much for speech making it seemed.

"Talk sense and make your point, and quickly before I have you returned to the Shadow Cells," he replied, a sneer curling his lips.

So he did recognise me then. I shouldn't really have wondered, Malick had been keeping him abreast of everything – as much as I'd wanted to believe his double dealing went deeper, clearly his loyalty still held strong to a certain extent.

"My point? Okay, my point is that this, your big plan, none of it is really for the greater good now, is it, not for all of us. You're not trying to benefit our quarter of Hell as you claim. All of this is for the greater good of you. You're furthering your own ambitions and couldn't give a damn about the consequences for the rest of us. We're expendable, all of us."

I paused and turned towards the crowd of demons, addressing them directly. Perhaps I wasn't so much for the grand speeches, but I'd give it my best shot.

"You know the truth,what he's really planning, and you know that he'll use every single one of you to his own ends. You get in his way and he'll dispose of you, your usefulness runs out? Then forget seeing his scheme come to fruition. We all already know too much to survive to the end of this,so you know we can't let it happen." My eyes travelled back to Lucifer, fierce determination set on my face.

"We won't let it happen."

"Oh really, and just how do you intend to stop me?"



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