The Jungle

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The night was quiet, which was odd, though it was oddly peaceful as a human woman stood making a latte for a large fire demon who was the only other occupant of the place. The smell of cinnamon and espresso filled they air that already wafted with the scent of sticky buns, cookies, donuts and tarts. He had been talking about some of the things that she should expect, but the more he talked about the world, or Kin, the more confused she got. Finally catching onto her confusion, he had fallen silent and watched her for a long while, his expression surprisingly gentle for a demon.

For anyone in her life, really.

The demon sat in the empty coffee shop, flame filled eyes dancing in amusement as smoke curled from his nose and around his head. "Tell me you know how the world works. You've lived in it long enough."

The woman sighed and shook her head. "No. They don't really explain things to us. I know there was a time before the world ended, when I was a child. But my memories only involve what it is now."

"Human rule of Earth ended twenty years ago. The world didn't end. Though there were those who wished that human life was completely snuffed from existence." The demon offered, before his expression got thoughtful.

Unsure if he was going to continue, the woman pushed a coffee across the counter she was behind, tempting the demon enough that he stood. "Will you explain it to me?"

Even though this wasn't the first time she had seen him, his height, well over six and a half feet, was as overwhelming as his broadly muscled frame. His dark red skin seemed to shine on its own, as if he were lit by a fire from within, though his horns were even darker, despite pulsing with his power when he chose to use it. "Alright. I need a selection of nine of your treats."

The woman paused for a moment, narrowing her eyes in suspicion, though she finally caved to his fake-innocent grin and retrieved him nine different items, watching him arrange eight of them in a circle around a chocolate chip cookie. "I'm not going to start at the beginning of everything, because it really isn't important and the knowledge of all that was supposedly lost. We'll start with just saying that the Angels existed and Demons existed and the realms that we call home are connected with seven other realms, and Earth. Lucifer became the fallen one and discovered that he could harness the darkness and in doing so, he established the gates that moved between all these realms. That was here on Earth, which is the chocolate chip cookie."

"It's in the middle." She looked down at it, raising a brow. "Why did the humans have it?"

The demon smirked in amusement and shrugged. "Earth balances things out and humans, according to Lucifer, are integral to that balance. Fast forward a couple thousand years and humans started to fuck things up royally. So much so, that the insanity and chaos on Earth was throwing everything else out of whack, though we didn't notice it at first because Lucifer, leading the four dark realms and all the Night Kin, was in a pretty long war with the Council of Twelve, their realms and the Day kin. Day and Night hated one another, we still do..."

The woman frowned and shook her head. "The council of Twelve? Are those the same as now?"

"Yes." He glanced at the scone and made a face. "Now, here on Earth, you will see or hear about a handful, namely Uriel, Gabriel, Sarathiel, sometimes Mikael. Though the first three most commonly. But the others are Raphael, she's a bit crazy and one of the most powerful of them. Her and Gabriel were the strongest warriors. But there's also Haniel, Ananiel, Gzrel, Eae, Camael, Chayyeil, and Eylon. There are other angels, but those twelve are their leaders."

When the woman just nodded, looking down at the collection of food, the demon continued talking. "Now. There was a lot of fighting and for a long time it looked like we were going to all amass on Earth and battle it out here, probably kill all the humans. But then there was a peace agreement, and it was decided that in order to prevent the destruction of all these realms, we needed to work together. So we invaded Earth, stopped humans from being assholes and erected our own cities."

"And enslaved humans." The woman frowned at him, crossing her arms over her chest.

"We didn't enslave ALL the humans." The demon rolled his eyes, smirking. Though when her expression didn't change, his amusement faded and he shrugged. "Humans were relegated to the bottom of the food chain. And they are a food source for several species of kin."

"I'd rather not talk about all that." Her voice got quiet, eyes haunted as she continued to look down at the counter. "So that cookie is Earth. And the rest?"

"Ah. Yes." His enthusiasm returned and he began at the top, pointing to the scone. "That's Zerura, home of the Angels. Then the butter tart is Neiva, home of the Nymphs and other water-like day kin. Then comes Baile, the vanilla sprinkle donut, it is the home of the Tuath Dé, faeries, pixies, unicorns. As you can see, it is on the cusp of light and dark, the Tuath Dé, or the elves, consist of a bunch of tribes with various affinity for day or night. The blood elves being the black skinned, white haired and teal eyed warriors that were the most feared of their race. Then down into the dark realms, we have Vada the brownie, then the chocolate donut is the home of the demons."

He said a word that was incomprehensible to her.

When she shook her head and frowned at him, the demon chuckled. "Alright. We'll call the chocolate donut, Bellows. Or Hell. Then comes Dis, the sticky bun, then Cocytus, a tart, another semi-neutral plane that's home to orcs, giants and centaurs. Then finally Jannato, which is the gross lemon square thing, back on the light side. Those are the eight outer realms, which balance and are balanced, by Earth."

"And each of the realms, other than the angels, with their council of twelve, they have Leaders, right? Royalty?" The human was hopeful, having put together some of that knowledge from hearing people talk, though she was disappointed when the demon shook his head.

Gently, he offered. "The Angels recognized particularly powerful beings that also had abilities of influence, braver, leadership and integrity, giving them a regal title of Cacique. They aren't hereditary and there are usually one or two in a generation. The Tuath Dé have one, though he's been missing for a while. The Nymphs have two, an older Healer, who is here on earth and a younger male. In mockery of it all, us demons we gave Lucifer the title of Prince of Darkness, though the angels will generally use the name he had before falling, Sataniel, or the diminutive, Iblis."

"And Lucifer... the night kin, the darkness... demons, you are all... " The woman stopped, then frowned and shook her head. "But the angels are benevolent and they saved us. Those that wanted to destroy earth, kill us all, those who feed on us..."

"Well. There are vampires, who prefer human blood." The demon watched her for a long moment, before answering thoughtfully. "But before you assume good and evil, right and wrong, you must realize... that those are individual traits. Not traits of an entire species. Light and Dark, they're on two ends of a spectrum, which is why our universe is a balancing act."

"The universe has nine realms?" She frowned at him, though she knew better than to blindly trust anyone's word. There were self-serving reasons for anyone to convince her that they weren't to be feared.

"Oh no." The demon chuckled and shook his head. "There are thousands, hundreds of thousands. There are hundreds of versions of Earth with hundreds of different histories and outcomes. Some beings have access to all of them, some have access to only a few. Demons are travellers, seekers of knowledge. We... allow ourselves to be called places, or we seek out those opening up pathways, so we can find new places and learn. We build the bridges between our realms and all the others. This is my map."

He snapped his fingers, and his power appeared in the air over her head, lighting up with little bright points of light, all connected in a spiderweb of sparkling pathways. Her eyes widened, mouth dropping open for a moment, she nodded. "This is a lot to take in."

The demon shrugged and picked up the chocolate donut, taking a bite out of it and grinning to her. "It's only going to get crazier from here." 

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