The beauty of Eden took Arren's breath away. Turquoise waters dropped from dark boulders steeped in green. From the air, he could see the pattern of thick forests bordering stunning lakes in all shades of blue and green, and the wild grasslands invading the edges.
Everything was in perfect harmony—water gurgling, birds chirping, and the scents of spring floating in the air—until it was ruptured in a thousand burning shards by a dozen demons.
Lucifer motioned the demonic horde to follow him towards a clearing in the forest. They landed in deadly silence, only the rustle of leaves audible in the mild breeze.
"Be careful. The angels have guards all over the place," Lucifer whispered to Arren and the other demonic warriors he'd brought along. "We need to find their base, probably underground. Track any angel you find; they might lead you to where the archangels meet."
Lucifer turned to Arren. "You're with me."
The dozen other demons turned to their human form before scattering amongst the trees. Their scales and spikes would stand out in the one place on earth teeming with angels, while their human forms might go unnoticed. There wasn't any obvious difference between angels and demons when not in their true forms.
Arren was still staring at the colour of the water gurgling nearby when Lucifer grabbed his wrist and dragged him along. "Close your mouth before you catch flies."
Pulling his arm free, Arren murmured, "Asshole."
"Oh, kitten, will you ever learn?" Lucifer forcefully dragged Arren against his body and locked his chin in the steel grip of his fingers. "Now I'll have to come up with yet another punishment, because you keep insulting your fucking leader. You should kneel before me instead of offending me at every turn."
Lucifer's damn nickname for him was going to be the death of Arren. He stared in the cold green eyes of the fallen angel. "In your dreams, asshole."
Lucifer let go of him. "You're lucky I have other priorities right now."
Too bad. Heat was curling its way up Arren's spine before spreading through his chest at the thought of the punishment his leader had in mind. He liked the battle of wills they engaged in, despite the pain it brought. Being the sole focus of Lucifer's attention made his head spin, when those poisonous green eyes locked on his face and strong hands wrapped around Arren's throat.
Fuck, he needed to focus before an archangel burned him to ash. Or before his own leader beat the archangel to it because he was fed up with Arren's dallying.
He followed Lucifer's broad form through the forest, eyes peeled for enemies.
When they got to the rocky edge of a large lake, a shadow fell over them.
"Arren, get back," Lucifer shouted at him when a massive angel landed in front of them.
Arren turned demon, ochre spikes running from the back of his hands to his shoulders. His pale skin faded into ice-blue scales matching the colour of his eyes, and black wings ripped from his back.
Katana tight in his hand, he stepped next to Lucifer to face the enemy. His leader had turned into the jaw-dropping fallen angel he was - golden skin showing his angelic roots covered with the black spikes he'd earned as leader of the demons. His crimson feathers were smudged black on the edges of his wings, a stark contrast to the blinding white of the archangel's wings in front of them.
"Your warriors don't know how to follow orders. That doesn't bode well for you." The archangel smirked.
"I'm still breaking this one in," Lucifer told him with a shrug.