Chapter 1: Meet and Not Quite Greet
He wasn’t sure what he’d expected. A final, permanent death? Rebirth through the arch? No, those were all too good for the likes of him. He supposed he wasn’t surprised to be back in Hell, but that didn’t mean he was happy about it.
Then again, Izual hadn’t been happy about anything in a very long time. One did not walk into damnation and retain any right to such trivial things as happiness.
He didn’t suppose any of it really mattered. The only thing that really mattered here was- well. Where exactly was here? And how did he get away from it? Few people, be they angel or human, really stopped to consider that Hell was quite massive. And it was, in fact, divided into sections. Different sections held different dangers, and depending on one’s strengths, could be more easily traversed.
Izual, of course, was most familiar with the Realm of Anguish. He’d wandered there long enough that he knew how best to avoid being eaten alive. He wanted to avoid the Realm of Hatred if at all possible. Not only was it quite densely populated, majority of the demons there were more magically inclined. He was not keen on getting set on fire this day.
Although he’d been wandering for some time (hours? Days? Weeks? Time was no friend of his) Izual still had no concrete idea where he was. It was likely not the realm of Sin or Lies, as these realms tended to mess with one’s head immediately. Given that he recognized nothing, he was inclined to rule out the realms of Pain and Anguish.
Leaving only the realms of the Three.
“Outstanding.” Izual mumbled to himself. He paused his trek, and looked about. Rocky canyon up to the left. Plains to the right. Some fire in the sky. Same hot, awful atmosphere. Shiny speck in the distance behind himself. All in all, it was Hell.
“...Wait a minute.” Turning, Izual stared in the direction he had come from, disbelief filling him. No, it was still there.
Things in hell did not glimmer. It had to be an illusion. Perhaps he really was in the Realm of Lies. Whatever the source, Izual had no interest in facing it. He spun about, and doubled his pace.
His hooves were creating sizable prints in the ashy ground, and he cursed his luck. Anything that wanted to follow him would have no trouble whatsoever. Well, so be it. There wasn’t anything he could do about the body he was in.
While he continued his trek, he couldn’t help but consider himself. As much as he wished to just let himself go, something kept him from completely losing himself to his demonic body. One of the few things he was marginally thankful for these days was that there had not been a mind previously attached to said body.
Izual couldn’t say he understood what had been done to him, not entirely. The Demon Lords had bound him to this...thing that they’d summoned out of the Black Abyss. But all it really was was a shell. Almost like a suit of armor. A disgusting, repulsive, fleshy suit of armor. With hooves.
The body alone was almost enough to make him regret what he’d done.
At least it has wings. He mused to himself. Glancing at the appendages in question, Izual was privately relieved that they had regenerated their membranes. He’d very nearly gone completely mad from sky-hunger over the last twenty years. A fallen angel he may be, but he still longed to fly.
The only thing keeping him on the ground right now was his desire to not be seen. A giant blue demon flying around the Burning Hells would certainly gain the attention of everything for miles.
Speaking of attention…
Izual dared to glance over his shoulder. He started, for it looked as though whatever-it-was had gotten closer.
Snorting, Izual turned and began briskly marching to his left. He'd lose whatever-it-was in the canyon. He had no interest in being followed around, and if it came to it, he’d tear the thing apart. Of course, there was always the possibility that it was stronger than him, and he was about to die a third time. The thought spurred him on to pick up the pace. He was not interested in dying again.
Somewhat paranoid, Izual stopped paying as much attention to his surroundings, rather keeping an eye in the direction he came from. He let himself go wherever his feet took him.
The one good thing about his hooves was that they could handle any terrain. Sharp rocks, hard dirt, not-quite-solidified lava - nothing truly hindered him. They weren’t particularly nimble, however, and even at a run he was significantly slower than he’d ever been as an angel. Granted it wasn’t often that he ran, but when he did, he was obnoxiously clumsy.
After some time, he realized the mistake in not paying attention to where he was going when he walked directly into a dead-end.
“Damnit!” His wings raised up in a display of irritation-aggression, and he dearly wished he still had his sword. Turning about, Izual stared back at the way he came. No sign of whatever-it-was… but that didn’t mean it wasn’t out there somewhere.
Well, there was no other choice. Cautious but deliberate, he began walking back the way he came.
So far so good… he was coming to a fork, and no sign of the other thing. He recognized his own tracks leading out of one way. Izual paused, and took a look around. Nothing behind him, nothing in front of him, nothing to the left or right. His hearing was nothing special, but he couldn’t hear any breathing or anything.
“I’m just too damn paranoid.” He mumbled to himself. Wings still raised, he rounded a corner - and nearly collided with a short, glimmering thing.
“What the shit!” A loud, obnoxious, uncomfortably familiar thing.
“You!” Izual roared. He stared before himself, enraged and befuddled.
“Me? How about You!?” Izual couldn’t believe it. It was fuck-mothering Inarius who stood in front of him, shredded armor bristling. The treacherous, unmistakable, and above all irritating Creator of Sanctuary himself.
Izual snarled at the smaller (not)angel. Without hesitation, he swiped forward. Shrieking, Inarius dove out of the way.
“What the shit Izual!” The scrappy little bastard dove again as Izual charged at him.
“Hold still!” Izual screamed. He flung out a hand, and ice snapped after the other fallen angel. Naturally, Inarius didn’t listen, instead leaping over his attack. He skirted a nearby ravine and circled, looking for an opening to attack.
With an enraged hiss, Inarius shot forward like a bullet. Izual tried to dodge, but wasn’t half as nimble as his new enemy. Stumbling, he swiped with one claw - missed!
Izual let out a shocked, pained yell when sharp little claws pierced his hide. And - was he on fire!? Inarius was spitting hot rage, eyes flashing. Sure enough, flames licked off his arms and there was an angry red glow where his wings should’ve been.
“Stubborn little-!” Panting, Izual grabbed for his assailant, but screamed when hot sharp claws slashed across his face. He could hear Inarius snarling next him, and feel the heat billowing off of him.
So much for not wanting to get set on fire today.
Izual blindly swiped, and his claw hit metal. Spikey, definitely part of Inarius. The other former-seraph began shouting curses when he felt Izual grabbing onto him, and began clawing at his arm.
With an enraged howl, Izual gripped his foe and heaved with all his might. Inarius let out another shriek, which quickly changed from rage to shock as he found himself launched into the ravine. Izual couldn’t help but wince when he heard a loud crash-snapping noise, and all sound (save his labored breathing) abruptly ceased. He could only assume it was the sound of Inarius smashing into a rock. Likely he was not dead, but at the very least wounded.
After patting out the fire, Izual sat panting for a moment, internalizing his discovery. He’d always suspected Inarius to still be alive, but he’d never imagined that he was free. Bastard was tough, and oh so very stubborn.
As he felt his heart begin to slow, Izual cautiously edged forward. Peering over the side of the ravine, he could just make out the copper shine of metal down below. Inarius did not move.
Snorting, he shook his head. It wouldn’t do to stay here. Slowly, he began to resume his trek. Whether Inarius lived or died, he honestly didn’t care.
The two angels had never truly been friends. Comrades-in-arms, sparring partners, Angels under Justice - yes. But friends implied there at least be some sort of affection between the two. The only affection Izual ever had for Inarius was when the other was being put in his place, and blissfully silenced. He could only assume the same went for Inarius.
He might have learned to get along with the other. They might have found their way to something more than comrades. But such was not to be.
In the terms of angels, they had not known each other long or well before the other’s great downfall. The most time spent together was on the battlefield, for otherwise they actively spent time avoiding one-another. It had gotten to the point where Tyrael had confronted the two of them about it. They needed to be a ‘unified force of light’, and to ‘trust one another with their lives’.
The one solace to that particular conversation was how clearly Inarius had been uninterested in when his brother was saying. Surly and unrepentant, the Advisor to the Angiris Council had merely pointed out that they worked well enough on the battlefield. The brothers might’ve gotten into another of their legendary arguments, save for the appearance of Auriel.
His opinion of the other angel had only lessened with the discovery of Sanctuary. To this day he still thought the other a great fool.
Unfortunately for Izual, Inarius was the least of his concerns down in Hell.
Chapter 2: Stray Murderous Puppies
Of course he was in the Realm of Hatred. Why not? The one place he wanted to avoid, and he was smack in the middle of it.
The encounter with Inarius only proved that. The little bastard couldn’t have made it far from his prison, so he supposed it had to be right around here somewhere. Ergo he was in the Realm of Hatred - Mephisto liked to keep his toys close.
Izual had spent maybe an hour stomping in a random direction, trying to put as much distance between him and the other fallen angel as possible. He was starting to realize that seeing the other had him badly shaken. He honestly hadn’t ever expected to see Inarius ever again. That said angel was perhaps the only being in creation in the same boat as him meant nothing. He’d happily sink that boat, given the chance. Izual wanted less than nothing to do with Inarius.
So focussed on just trying to put this out of his head, Izual was paying even less attention to his surroundings than before. A low, crackling hiss was the only warning he had before the pack of finger mage’s struck.
Izual roared in rage as lighting seared through his form. He swung wildly, flinging ice in any direction. Naturally, he hit none of his targets. The attacking demons scattered around him, and he stumbled back. His vision was blurry from the lightning, and his limbs felt numb.
There was a bright red glow to his right, and Izual threw himself sideways. The mage shrieked when its attack missed. He let out a low angry growl, and readied his magic. The air immediately cooled, and ice began to coalesce on the ground around him.
How many mages were there? He couldn’t tell. Perhaps six, perhaps more. Knowing the hells, however, their battle would summon more demons.
He needed to end this quickly.
A mage shrieked, and Izual swung his fist. The thing burned where he tore into it, and electric shocks ran up his arm. But mage’s were weak, and the demons died quickly. It’s brethren hissed in wrath and warning. Izual snarled furiously at them, and rushed forward.
He got another caught in his magic, and he crushed it between his fists. One of it’s brethren launched it’s lightning at him, and it crashed into his magic. He focussed on shielding himself, even as four of the mages began concentrating directly on him.
Izual could feel his shield cracking. He had to move-
Red light flashed beside him, and he barely got out of the way in time. Heaven’s sake he was not built to dodge. He tried to give chase to the mages, but they had learned from their brethren’s deaths. The demons had scattered, and were wisely staying out of reach of his chill. They were free to light off their magic as they pleased, and their aim was much more precise.
Lightning crashed into his chest, and Izual hissed in agony. He could feel his muscles stiffen and spasm. His vision blurred even further, and he tried to re-strengthen his shield. It barely held against another barrage. He needed to stay moving .
Izual knew without a doubt that he was screwed when he heard a roar behind him. He twisted just in time for an oppressor demon to launch a jet of flame directly into his face.
With a scream, the fallen angel launched himself to the side...only to be met with lightning magic shooting up his side. Immediately he felt his right leg begin to lock up. The oppressor had effectively blinded him, and he could hear nothing but the jeering cries of over a dozen demons.
A clawed hand dug into his shoulder, and even as he threw the demon off, another tore at his spine. His own magic snapped and crackled, and began to fizzle with each blow he took. Fire and fang bit into him, and with a start Izual realised this might be the end of him. Rage burned in his belly, but his limbs wouldn’t obey him.
His world had become fire and agony, but there was a deceptively cool numbness beyond it all. Fear took a hold (or maybe that was just the serpent magus squeezing his throat. When had that thing showed up?) and Izual tried to struggle. He did not want to go back to the Abyss again. He couldn’t.
The demons jeered and laughed at his misery, and only tore into him harder.
Blood poured from his wounds, and Izual felt it bubble up in his throat. He barely managed to crack one eye open. His last thought, before everything went dark, was that he didn’t remember the sky ever being that brilliant of a red.
As he faded into unconsciousness, the world around him began to light up in fury…
“Stupid stupid stupid…”
Trust Izual to completely ruin the day (such as a day in the life of a damned angel could be). He hadn’t meant to cross paths with the behemoth again, oh no. Inarius had fully planned on heading as far away from the other fallen angel as he could.
But then… he could hear the screams.
“Shouldn’t get involved…”
He could sense the agony and fear pouring off his not-friend not-companion not-even-an-ally why was he even bothering .
Inarius had told himself it was revenge. He was still smarting over being thrown off a cliff (even if he had easily healed himself).
He had been sure Izual would be fine - he’d only wanted to maybe see him get punched in the face. There was no way Tyrael’s esteemed lieutenant would fall to a mere pack of demons…
“Well. Evidently I was wrong.” Inarius stared down at the fallen angel, arms crossed in agitation. He tapped his foot, then drummed his fingers as he tried to think of what to do next. If he’d still had wings, they would have been fluffed up and flared brightly.
Glancing around, Inarius took brief pleasure in the carnage he had wrought. Charred forms, barely recognizable as demons, littered the ground. The smell of burnt flesh and blood filled the air so sweet and disgustingly. Izual alone lay untouched by his magic.
The big oaf’s breaths were getting smaller though. Breathing was important right? He’d never encountered a living creature of flesh that did not breath in come way. Humans needed air constantly, and they certainly hadn’t gotten that trait from him .
“If you die I will be pissed.” Inarius informed his not-companion. He wasn’t even sure why it would bother him so much, but he did know he didn’t want to other fallen dead. Izual didn’t respond, and Inarius pouted.
He supposed… those wounds did look deep… and a lot of the blood was clearly Izual’s. It couldn’t hurt if Inarius decided to maybe patch some of that skin up? Yes, he’d fix the other fallen-angels gross meat flesh and then he’d be on his way.
Inarius knelt, and pressed his hands to the other’s rugged chest, before focussing his magic. He didn’t understand why his magic had suddenly returned - and so potent! - but he didn’t particularly care. He was free of his prison, free to go where he pleased, free to heal whatever unfortunate broken not-demons not-angels he came across.
“I thought of you sometimes.” He informed the now-sleeping form. “While I was down there, Mephisto came and bragged about his amazing, apocalyptic plan to get banished to Sanctuary.” The burns on Izual’s skin were beginning to fade away, and his breath was evening out.
“He told me all about how you were secretly helping them.” Inarius tilted his head, considering. “He didn’t say why though. And then he was too busy breaking off my nails to really talk about it. And I couldn’t help but wonder… well, why’d you do it?”
Izual, of course, did not reply.
The smaller fallen angel stared at his companion for a moment. He’d fixed all his wounds, even worked the tension out of the muscles that had been hit by lightning. Izual looked fine - well, as fine as he could look - but he remained unmoving.
Inarius frowned. He’d expected a little more out of the bastard. They sat for maybe fifteen minutes like that, Izual doing his best impression of a large blue boulder, Inarius acting like the world’s most patient geologist.
With a sigh, Inarius began to stand - and that when a massive crackle-crash! split the air.
He looked up in alarm, and winced when he saw the angry black and red clouds rolling in from what he thought was the Realm of Destruction.
“Of course, why wouldn’t there be a firestorm coming in? … Izual, if you’re going to wake up, you should really do it now.” Izual mumbled a little in his sleep, and for all it excited Inarius, the fallen angel did not wake. Inarius tilted his head, before glancing back at the storm.
“I’m not sticking around. And I”m not bringing you with me.” with a huff, inarius spun about on his heel, and began marching back towards the canyon. He made it about eight feet, before he stopped, and glanced back. Izual hadn’t moved.
Snorting, Inarius determinedly turned back around, but he couldn’t seem to bring himself to leave. He stood for a few minutes, before giving a frustrated snarl, and stomping back over to the bigger fallen angel.
Arms crossed, scowl on his face, Inarius once again surveyed the prone form. Finally, he made a sound like a sigh.
“Fine. But only because I just put so much effort into fixing you… and spite. Lot’s of that.”
Inarius opened his hands, palms to the sky. Red magic began to swirl around him, and then around Izual’s chest, then his legs, wings, arms, until he had the whole miserable angel in his hold.
Experimentally, he raised his arms… and Izual was gently pulled off the ground. Inarius couldn’t help but grin at his success. His new magic could be finicky at times, but it seemed like he had a hold on it. It also caused a slight itch on his arms, leg, and forehead, but he wasn’t too concerned about it.
“Okay Izzy. You’re coming with me.” Inarius turned towards the canyons once more, Izual floating serenely beside him. The storm crackled ominously behind them, and they disappeared into the rocks.
He should’ve known sitting in a cave with no one but a sleeping Izual would be boring as hell . It was lucky that he’d found the cave in the first place, but still.
Fire licked at the caverns entrance, and fireballs continued to rain from the sky. They’d had to trek deeper in to avoid the heat and showers of embers. They were several fathoms in. The cave was dark, but Inarius thought it was cozy. He liked being able to at least rest his eyes.
After setting the other fallen angel down, Inarius had climbed on top of a nearby flat boulder. As fascinating as listening to the crackles, sizzles, and booms of the storm had been, it had gotten old pretty quick. He’d used quite a bit of magic for the sake of Izual, and wasn’t keen on over-taxing himself just yet. Therefor, using his abilities to entertain himself was a bust. There was little to do save watch the other occupant rest, which was even less interesting than the storm.
“Shoulda left you out there. At least then there’d be something to watch.” Inarius grumbled at Izual. He hated sitting still. It left too much space to think .
Things such as why was Hell so damn empty and why couldn’t he remember anything save torture and names . There should have been countless demons for him to carve his way through, but he’d found none. None, that is, till he’d encountered Izual. His memory of the big lieutenant had conveniently returned upon seeing him up close. But before that, he’d had no clue who or what the name Izual even was.
There were vague shapes and ideas floating around inside his mind. He might’ve been able to sort through it all, if he’d had time… Maybe he could figure some things out, remember a little...
“It’s probably not worth it.” He mumbled to himself.
Odds were, he’d only get it all jumbled up worse than before.
Inarius was aware that it shouldn’t have been that way, that his memory had been slowly declining. There was little but pain and horror that filled his head, and he’d been keeping it locked away best he could. Certainly, it wasn’t the healthy solution, but it was the simplest.
The emptiness gnawed at him…
He supposed if he stuck around his not-friend not-companion not-an-ally what-was-he-even- then his memories might return. Inarius wasn’t sure he even wanted them back though. What else could be lurking inside his mind? What other horrors could be unearthed?
The name Tyrael kept bouncing around his thoughts. The name was warm and cold and harsh and comforting all at once. He knew that Whoever-Tyrael-Was had been a leader of some sort. He’d been...he hadn’t been alone . There were multiple leaders but...He thought that maybe… this Tyrael had been his leader. He knew (or thought he knew) Izual had known this Tyrael. Their names held a similar feeling, but Tyrael’s was stronger. Perhaps… He and Izual had fought together. Yes, that sounded right.
The more he thought of it, the more he was sure he had it. Inarius had fought beside Izual, and they had both fought for Tyrael. This Tyrael must have been important to them both. Inarius was a little excited about this, but it quickly dulled.
It was just that for the life of him, he could not picture the being called Tyrael.
“If you could just wake up, I could ask you and be done with it.” Inarius informed Izual.
“Assk...me wha’ ?” Came a quiet, mumbled reply. It took approximately five seconds for Inarius to hear, process, and react to this question.
The fallen angel leapt from his perch to directly beside Izual. “You’re not dead!”
Izual just squinted suspiciously at him. “Mm not… not dead. Gotta...Gotta get outta ‘ere…who’s it?”
“You see, I thought you weren’t dead - I healed you after all - but then you weren’t really moving or anything so I thought well, maybe you are a little bit dead but now look at you you’re clearly very not-dead and I guess that makes you alive so now you can answer all my questions and I-mmph!” Izual clapped a hand over Inarius’s mouth, eyes shut, brows knit, looking like he was counting to ten.
“Why,” came the gravelly voice, “Out’f every livin’ thing on the face of Creation… Why am I stuck with you!? ” He was shouting into Inarius’s face by the end of it.
The smaller fallen-angel was still for a moment, and seemed to actually be considering his question. Izual knew the moment Inarius had his answer, because the menace licked his hand .
“Mother of- !” Izual shook his hand wildly, still glaring at the other.
“I think it’s got something to do with the theory of probability. That, and Itherael having a bad day. ” Inarius offered, staring. He then tilted his head, looking vaguely annoyed and confused. “Who is Itherael again?”
“...Excuse you?” Izual wondered if he was still knocked out.
“Well you know how probability works. In the end, probably is more probable than possible. Therefor, there was a possibility that we’d meet, which meant it was probable.” ...Izual was beginning to wish he were still knocked out. “But seriously , I know that name, who or uh, what is Itherael?”
“You...are a freak.” Izual grumbled, while rolling over onto his side, and then front.
“Well shit. Everyone knows that. I coulda told you that.” Inarius watched, a little fascinated, as Izual lurched to his feet - er, hooves. Izual seemed to still be in pain of some sort, and he was definitely moving slower than usual. When he’d finally risen, the former lieutenant glared at Inarius for a moment, before turning to stumble towards the entrance.
“I don’t have time for you.” He muttered. His head was already starting to throb.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Inarius offered, not moving.
“Thank whatever powers you please that I am not you.” Izual shot back. He was a little surprised to find that, aside from his head, he seemed to be entirely healed. Truth be told, he wasn’t certain he was alive and not having a very vivid hallucination.
Izual had been walking for a moment, following the scent of brimstone.
“No seriously, you can’t leave.” Inarius’s voice was right next to him -
“The Hell I can’t.” Izual snarled into the face of the now-hovering fallen angel.
“Uhm, yes, exactly. Hell. You can’t go out there.”
Izual swiped for him, claws just grazing the chestplate. Inarius hissed in alarm. He finally backed off when the bigger warrior took a menacing stomp towards him. There was frost clinging to his armor.
“...alright, I warned you. Don’t come to me begging for healing when you get set on fire.” and with that, Inarius haughtily zoomed back into the cave.
“Whatever.” Izual began stomping back towards the entrance… and very quickly discovered just why Inarius thought he couldn’t leave.
A fireball nearly took his leg off even before he’d fully left the damn cave.
“ Sonofa-! ” Izual threw himself back. Fire licked at the mouth of the cave, and from what he could see, the whole sky was raining flames. Inarius had probably been vague on purpose. Izual could picture him now, snickering over the thought of him loosing an arm or a leg to the fire. He hadn’t taken note of the angry glow, since it wasn’t exactly uncommon down in Hell. And in all honesty, he’d allowed himself to be distracted by Inarius...again. The other angel was disturbingly good at getting under his skin. He desperately wanted to ignore Inarius, to get away from the little bastard. It just seemed that he couldn’t.
Irritated with his lot in life, Izual turned around and stomped back deeper into the cave.
Inarius wasn’t where he’d first woken up. Izual assumed he must’ve gone deeper in. That was perfectly fine with him. Perhaps Inarius wasn’t interested in being around him either.
Huffing a sigh, the big fallen angel sat down against a wall. He was still pretty tired, even after apparently sleeping for some time. Maybe he’d just rest for a bit.
At least until the storm cleared.
Inarius is confused, in general. He also talks to himself a lot. Poor dude has one messed up head.
Izzy just can't catch a break.
Chapter 4: I Hate You, You Hate Me
We're a Monster Angel Family~
Izzy keeps hoping.
Inarius has a little problem of potentially catastrophic proportions.
Izual woke with a start, and only thousands of years of discipline kept him from leaping to his feet. The cave was silent.
Groggily, he scrubbed over his eyes. How long had he been asleep? He only remembered resting for a moment. Evidently, the storm had calmed, although he wasn’t sure it had subsided entirely. Either way, it was highly likely that everything was still on fire.
Glancing around, Izual puzzled over the scuffs and scrapes in the dirt around him. It looked like someone had been scuttling around. It also looked like there were words scrawled all over the walls. Most of it was illegible, and what could be read was honestly not worth the time. The scrapes lead deeper into the cave...but who…?
Forgoing discipline, Izual leapt to his hooves with a shout of alarm. How could he have forgotten Inarius already?
He stood poised, as if he expected the other fallen angel to jump right out at him. The cave was dark, but Inarius would stand out. The bastard always did. Several seconds went by. Izual’s arms began to get tired from the defensive position they were in. The cave was still quiet, save for his (now slightly labored) breathing. Izual was starting to feel a little sheepish. Slowly he lowered his arms-
“What’re we looking at?” Spinning around, Izual found Inarius in a battle-ready stance behind him. He was staring into the cave, but glanced up quizzically.
“What the-! What’re you doing !?” Izual roared. Unconciously, he had tucked his arms up to his chest and spread his wings out. Inarius just stared at him, taking in the display, and generally looking confused.
The shorter angel licked his lips, before replying. “I was looking around outside. Everything is still on fire. Then I came back to the cave and found you- and you’re awake again!” Inarius threw his arms up, and had the nerve to grin at him. Like he was genuinely happy to see him. It was ridiculous, but then again, so was Inarius.
Izual just scowled, and crossed his arms.
“Well. Yes, I am awake. And I am leaving.”
“Uhh, Didn’t you hear me? Everything is still on fire.”
“Not the cave. You. I am leaving you.” And Izual did just that. He turned himself around, and marched deeper into the cave. Inarius continued to stare, as per usual. He watched until Izual had vanished into the darkness, before shrugging to himself. Absently, he scratched one arm for a moment. He wasn’t all that surprised at the other angel’s abrupt departure. He’d always had one heck of a temper.
Deciding he’d leave Izual to it, Inarius turned about and left the cave once more. Sure, everything was on fire, but that sort of thing never really bothered him. He found the landscape to be peaceful, for once. No one would ever bother him in a fire.
This in mind, Inarius picked a random direction, and walked.
Fire was light too, wasn’t it? This was something that had always given him pause: Hell was perpetually on fire, or generating fire. Demons were practically furnaces in their own right. Was fire not a source of light? It had been an integral piece of human society. They wouldn’t have survived without fire. Even angels were known to use it at times (Mostly in battle, but still).
Still wandering, the fallen angel turned a corner, not really paying attention to where his feet took him. His arm had gotten awfully itchy, and he absent-mindedly scratched at it. That his gauntlets had dangerously curved clawed tips, and therefor tore the skin a bit, did not phase him. When he felt his essence begin to dribble down his arm, he simply healed the wound.
Ahead, there was fire. Behind, there was more fire. He was completely surrounded, with even the canyon walls smoldering hotly.
Fire was destruction, fire was creation. He supposed it sort of made sense, given that everyone had technically come from the same being. It still boggled his mind at times, thinking about The Pearl, Anu, and Tathemet.
In hindsight he should’ve known the Nephalem would be so very powerful. He had reunited the halves of The Pearl, in a small way. Everything had come full circle.
Speaking of circles, Inarius finally looked up. The canyons they were situated would be easy to get lost in, given that everything looked the same. As such, he had more or less made a loose circle around the cave. It yawned open, deep and dark and still. Like an empty void.
For the briefest of moments, a flicker of a memory reared its head. Descent into shadow, tendrils pulling, crushing in their grip… a scratchy, deceptively warm voice crooning all it’s vile plans for him…
Unconsciously, he grabbed his arms, squeezing at his biceps.
Or he would have, if his right hand hadn’t been met with something hard and sharp jutting out of his skin.
Slowly, calmly, Inarius looked down. He observed the angry red thing poking out of his skin, glowing faintly. He simply stood for a minute, utterly fascinated, and slowly becoming more and more horrified. As he watched, his skin began glowing around the...shard… and it was bubbling up… and seven Hells had it ever started to itch.
With a miniscule *pop*, a second, blood red shard burst from his arm. His glittering blood dribbled onto the ashen ground.
Inarius stared a moment longer, and then did the only thing he could think of: He screamed.
Izual had trekked into the cave till he couldn’t see anything in front of him. He then located the nearest wall.
With a dull *thud*, the fallen angel slumped face-first into the dirt wall. A low noise started in his throat, and then began to build. It progressed until he stood yelling his wordless rage and frustration to the blackness around him. He didn’t particularly care if Inarius heard him, or what the little bastard might think. Maybe (hopefully) he’d hear this and leave forever, never to be seen again.
After a few minutes of screaming, Izual rand out of breath. Huffing, he twisted around so his back was to the wall.
Okay. He needed to calm down.
Izual sucked in a deep breath, and ran a clawed hand over his hood. The fabric was patchy, and a little singed, but it did its job. Idly pinching the fabric between two fingers, Izual simply sat for a moment and tried not to think.
He was not handling this well. It should have been a simple matter to either leave, or ignore Inarius. That he was so bothered by the other fallen angel galled him. Perhaps it was because, deep down, he thought the other seraph was dead. Maybe it was because he hadn’t seen another being that didn’t immediately stab him in several hundred years. Most likely though, it was because, in a way, Inarius was the reason he had turned on the High Heavens. On Tyrael.
That train of thought might have gone further, had someone decided not to start screaming.
As it was though, Izual was thoroughly distracted by the high-pitched shrieking echoing down the cave. With a huff, the bestial angel pushed himself off the wall. He might as well go and see what had Inarius all worked up. Maybe if he was lucky the other seraph was being eaten by some fire-monster, and Izual wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore.
Chapter 5: It's Just a Stab Wound?
They finally get their asses out of that cave.
“Could you just- Fucking- Hold still! ….And stop! Bloody! Screaming!”
Completely ignoring him, Inarius continued screeching into the sky. Izual was half-heartedly trying to grab him, and becoming more and more irritated by the minute. He honestly couldn’t tell what the problem was, because the other seraph was fluttering madly about the canyons.
“You’re being an even bigger pain than usual right now.” Izual informed Inarius. What sounded like a mix of cursing and wailing was his reply. Sneering, Izual lunged towards his dubious companion, and was nearly kicked in the face for his efforts.
It didn't help that everything was still smoldering. The air was noticeably ashier and hotter than usual, and, being someone who preferred ice-magic, this was about as deplorable as it got. Izual could feel the heat seeping up through his hooves, and irritably stamped the ground. He debated simply leaving the hapless angel to his misery, but somehow he knew it would be futile.
If anything, the last few hours had proved that Inarius was impossible to avoid.
“You are trying my patience.” Izual grumbled. Inarius had backed himself against a wall. It looked like he might’ve been clawing at his arm, but he was also flaring his (previously invisible) wings, and kicking like a toddler.
Seizing an opportunity, Izual tackled the smaller angel in a bear-hug of sorts. He immediately regretted it.
Inarius, upon being grabbed, let out the most ungodly sound Izual had ever heard. He then proceeded to continue flailing, and Izual remembered very quickly why sparring against Inarius had always been a pain. Jagged bracers dug into his arms, and the spikes adorning Inarius’s calves jabbed at his stomach. Letting out a roar of rage and pain, Izual nearly crushed the other fallen angel. He dared not let Inarius get an arm free - he could easily impale him with one of his stupid pointy elbows.
“Stop! Stop fighting me you- you ingrate!” Predictably, Inarius did not listen. He continued squirming, and Izual thought he had to be hurting himself at this point. He wasn’t exactly holding him gently - more like trying to crush the smaller seraph into holding still. While his thighs were well armored against kicks, his stomach was (foolishly) unguarded. Inarius’s wings were digging hard into the flesh, and the angry red tendrils wriggled and flailed madly.
He had Inarius’s arms pinned to his sides, and had squashed the little bastard against his breastplate. The larger seraph could hear the awful screech of metal-on-metal, as Inarius’s bracers scraped hard against him. Izual yelped when he felt something burning his arm. Reacting on instinct, he jerked the limb away, nearly dropping the source of his predicament.
“Son of a-!” He just barely missed having his face torn off by the other fallen angel… and that was when he noticed something odd.
There was blood covering Inarius’s right arm. It glittered, dribbling sluggishly out of deep gouges. It had to be his own - Izual’s own blood had taken on a deep red-violet color after his ‘transformation’. The thick substance had been smeared everywhere.
Seizing the offending limb, Izual pulled Inarius’s arm straight to better take a look. Surprisingly, the fallen angel went completely still. Even his wings stopped their frantic wriggling.
Had he been attacked? Izual thought he had seen him pawing at the arm earlier… but he hadn’t thought much of it.
“What did you do this time?” He snarled, thoroughly irritated, and (although he would never admit it) slightly worried.
“Didn’t...I didn’t.” Inarius mumbled, sounded dazed. He was staring at the limb as though it would bite him. Belatedly, he looked up and stared at Izual. Had his not-companion been paying attention, he might have noticed the way Inarius fixated on him. He might have seen the very slight relaxation as the other angel grounded himself. As it was, he was too focussed on whatever-the-hell Inarius did to his arm.
Snorting, Izual continued his inspection. The bicep had been nearly chewed to shreds, and it looked like the skin had been torn. The cuts were deep, and looked like they’d been left by sharp claws... Narrowing his eyes, Izual glanced down at his captive. Inarius’s other hand was likewise coated in his own blood.
“Why, in the name of Anu, are you clawing yourself like this?” Inarius didn’t seem to hear him. He was still staring at his arm, a look of dull horror and fear coloring his features. Glancing back, Izual finally noticed something new: red, pointed… somethings, all protruding from what was left of the skin. They had been previously covered up by all the blood and flailing, but were finally revealed when it began to run off. They glowed a bright, angry red light.
“What.” Izual was seriously considering dropping his not-companion, turning around, and going back to sleep for the next year and a half or so. Or at least until Inarius got bored and left him alone.
“Don’t know.” Inarius wiggled slightly, and kicked out with his legs. Izual realised he’d slowly been slipping out of his hold, and heaved him back up. Now that his tantrum was over, holding onto the broken angel was much less of a chore.
“This- I- ...did you get stabbed? What are these?” Izual thumbed over one of the protrusions, and discovered them to be very hot to the touch.
“No, no stabbing. Not here. Not this.” Inaris halfheartedly tried to retrieve his arm, and Izual wholeheartedly didn’t let him.
“Well, where did these come from? They can’t have just appeared out of nothing.” Izual was already irritable, and therefor, very impatient.
Inarius glared at him. “If I knew...what, where, why? I’d’ve told you.” He huffed, turning his glare toward the little red protrusions. “They can just appear out of nothing, because that’s exactly what they did.”
“Oh bull. You probably stuck them there yourself.”
“I did no such thing!”
“Oh yeah? Well then how’d they get there?!” He honestly didn’t believe these things just materialised. There was something else going on here.
“I don’t know! They just started growing! It was all itchy and irritating and then they were just there.” Inarius resumed squirming, though much less violently. “Let me down you bloody git!”
Huffing in irritation, Izual tossed the other away. Inarius landed, spun around, and started to cross his arms. Recalling his predicament, the fallen angel considered for a moment, before putting his hands on his hips instead. In retaliation, Izual crossed his own arms.
The two stared each other down for a moment.
Finally, Izual asked “What even are they?”
Inarius hesitated, before slowly looking down.
“I guess… they look like...crystals.” He mumbled.
“Crystals.” Izual put a hand to his chin. There were some crystal based spells in existence, but he’d never seen them do this. They also generally required a lot of focus and intent. And rarely were they this...small scale.
“Let me see it again.” Izual reached for his dubious companion.
Inarius shook his head, and took a step back. He and Izual glared at each other a moment, sizing each other up. Finally, Izual let out an aggravated sigh.
“Fine. But you’re pulling them out yourself…” Inarius instantly relaxed, and let his arms drop. Izual snuffled, and let out a sneeze. Glancing up, he noted the sky was still full of ash. How droll.
Shuffling his hooves, Izual settled his glare on the damned cave. Inarius took one more look at his arm, before forcibly deciding that he wouldn't worry about it. It wasn't like there was anything he could do about it anyway.
Like so much else in his life.
Thoroughly ignoring the unsettling feeling of having things lodged in his skin, Inarius instead focussed on his somewhat-companion. Izual wasn't a being known for his sunny disposition, but he seemed more… grumpy, than usual. Given that the larger fallen angel could smash him into a pulp, it was in Inarius's best interest that he remained in a more pleasant mood.
Perhaps… with the way the other was glaring into the cave…
Maybe a change in scenery was in order?
“Y‘know…” Inarius began, glancing around thoughtfully. “With how hot everything still is, and how much ash there is… most demons are either holed up, or on fire, or dead.” Izual raised a brow at him, even as he scrubbed at his nose.
“We could probably take off...get some distance between here and… well. Wherever.”
“Take off? You mean fly?” Izual couldn’t help himself. Traitor and demonic entity he may have been, but at his core, the fallen angel was, well, an angel. He craved the sky like a human craved water.
But still, suspicion made him hesitate. “What makes you so sure no one’s around?”
Inarius shrugged, and rubbed at his arm a little. “In general, there’s not too many around. Haven’t been for the last, hnnn, thirty? Twenty? However many years. But it’s even less lately.” Inarius tilted his head, seemingly considering. Izual deliberately kept his mouth shut. Just how much did the smaller seraphim know? He had forgotten just what Inarius’s role in the High Heaven’s was. Being the sole advisor to the Angiris Council, it was his job to relay what was going on with the people. Certainly, angels could approach him with concerns and ideas, but Inarius had gained much of his insight simply by paying attention. He watched, he recognized and remembered patterns. He knew the signs, he knew the machinations of Heaven.
It made sense that those same tendencies could carry over into Hell.
“It's why I got out, I guess. That and magic, but there’s just been no one around. No one to keep an eye on...things. People. Me…” The fallen angel trailed off again, staring up at the sky. But then he shrugged again. “Besides. I’m loud. Someone would’ve come, if anyone were around. So...we’re in the clear for now.”
“For now. And how long do you think it will last?” Izual was highly intrigued with the notion of flight. And he had no reason not to disbelieve Inarius.
“Oh, a couple hours at least.” Enough time to cover a good chunk of Hell.
Izual hummed. But he had one more question. “Just where do we go?” Much as every part of him desired flight, he did not want to leave that decision to Inarius alone.
“Weeelll…” Inarius looked up at him sizing him up ever-so-slightly. “Where do you suppose a pair of jackasses with wings would go?”
Izual snuffled. “Anywhere but here?” A cave in Hell was perhaps the last place anyone might look for an angel of any kind.
Inarius just snickered. “Pick a random direction. Channel your inner Auriel and hope for the best.”
“That’s your plan. Hope for the best? Is that how Sanctuary happened?” Izual had meant for it to be a joke. He did not mean for Inarius to go completely rigid, wispy not-quite-wings shredding at the air jaggedly.
Then the other fallen angel shook himself, looked confused for a moment, and stared at Izual.
A beat of silence. Two. Three, and Izual sucked in a breath (and probably a lungful of ash). He looked away from the burning, blood red stare that Inarius sent his way.
“...Are we still leaving? Or did you change your mind.” It was like nothing had happened.
“We’re going. Actually, we’re already gone.” And Izual spread his wings, which were much bigger than he previously realized. With a mighty flap, he launched himself into the ashen sky. From on high, he could see that Inarius had the right of it. Everything smoldered, there was not a demon in sight.
Silently, the other fallen angel floated up beside him. His wings were little more than a pink outline, hardly visible against Hell’s sky. The gems in his arm glittered, redder than blood. With another power-flap, Izual heaved himself forward, and shot away from the cave. Damn, but it was good to fly.
For a few blessed hours, they flew. Izual would be lying if he said he wasn't enjoying it. Inarius was even being quiet, seemingly lost in thought.
Izual had found that for once, he didn't mind the other fallen angel’s company. Fallen or not, angels were social creatures. They were happiest in large groups. Flying together allowed them to decompress and relax - it was almost therapeutic. Even just two angels together would naturally be happier than a single angel. They thrived on each other’s company.
Younger angels were known to race through the Silver City in droves, shrieking their joy throughout the heavens. Even the oldest and most battle-hardened seraphim could be seen flocking together merrily. No matter the rank or aspect, angels could always find pleasure in flying with one another. Izual had personally found that he was most at ease just before battle. There simply was no better place to be than flying confidently with hundreds of his warriors beside him.
Not that he’d found anyway.
He couldn't be sure that Inarius felt the same, but Izual had become greatly relaxed. Something in him had started to thaw, ever so slightly. He lazily flew, wings opened wide so that he could simply soar. The landscape below wasn't interesting in the least. All he cared about was the sky.
A warm (well, warmer) updraft blew him upwards, and Inarius languidly drifted after him. At a glance, he seemed entirely disinterested in where they were. But a more trained eye would find that he was intensely studying the terrain beneath them. The firestorm had been a big one, and while Izual certainly hadn’t noticed, Inarius was intentionally steering them away from it. The ground was only now showing signs that it hadn’t recently been pelted with fireballs, which meant they had finally made it out of the danger zone.
Inarius had been stuck flying in a firestorm before, and had every intention of not repeating that. If there was one sure way to burn to death, it was to get sucked up into roaring inferno that created the fireballs in the first place. Before, Inarius had had the luxury of thick armor and well-controlled magic. Without those, he knew he would be burnt to a crisp in moments.
It wasn’t something he had much interest in. Burning that is.
The state of his armor had been a constant bother for years now. It had taken Mephisto a decent chunk of time to grind through it, but eventually he'd found the soft skin inside. The demon lord had then made very sure to tear as much of it as he could. While Inarius had grown good at blocking, well, most things out, his vulnerability often irritated him. Firestorms were just one more item on the long list of things that could now do him harm.
This particular storm was behind them though. It was irrelevant. What Inarius needed to do now was figure out where to go next. He didn’t know (and wasn’t sure how much he cared) how long Izual could fly for. There was strength in numbers right now. Izual provided a sort of protection for him - he hadn’t attacked him since they’d first met. It was also… nice, having someone actually talk to him for once.
Izual’s motivations were concerning to him though, given that he didn’t know what they were. Inarius had no problem flying with demons, let alone a fellow fallen angel, but he would’ve liked to know why Izual was fine with it. Maybe they were both a pair of lonely bastards desperate for company. Maybe Izual also saw the strength in numbers.
Or, perhaps the other angel was planning to attack him and drag him back to one of the Three. Inarius vaguely hoped that wasn’t it.
The fallen angel looked over the terrain again, and tried to figure out where they were. They had come from the Realm of Hatred, he was very aware of that. He was reasonably sure they weren’t within that realm any more. Hell didn’t really have any sort of cardinal directions though. And, well. Everything looked the same.
With a shake of his head, Inarius glanced at his dubious companion. Izual had been loose in the Hells for much longer than he had. Perhaps the bigger seraph might have a better clue as to where they were.
“Hey, any idea where we might be?” Inarius called out. He watched, a little amused, as the other once-angel jerked in flight, as though he’d been pulled out of his thoughts.
Icy blue eyes glared dully at him, before looking around. Inarius patiently waited while Izual studied their surroundings. A low hum left the behemoth, before he turned to face his dubious companion.
“It might be the Realm of Destruction.” Inarius tilted his head, briefly disrupting his flight course. How his not-friend figured that out, he had no idea.
But if they were in the Realm of Destruction…
Inarius had an idea.
“That means the forge is around here yes?” The fallen angel’s tone grew slightly excited.
Izual, by contrast, immediately became stealy, and he put some distance between them. Inarius wished he had a face to emote with. He would've raised an eyebrow.
“...yes. Yes it would be.” Izual muttered frostily. The air around him had begun to chill slightly, a sure sign that something had upset him. Inarius had no idea what that might be though. Perhaps he just didn't like the realm they were in?
...Whatever. If the forge was nearby, then that was where Inarius would go.
This in mind, the fallen angel gathered his will, and shot high into the sky. Izual let out a squawk of protest, before slowly following. His massive wings pumped hard, but he had essentially hampered his own progress by cooling the air around him. Inarius proceeded to ignore him for the time being.
Floating high in Hell’s ashen sky, Inarius carefully took in the surroundings. What did the Hellforge even look like? Mephisto had bitched and boasted about it to him many times, but he hadn't really said anything useful about finding it.
Loud flapping and irritated huffing met his ears, and the fallen seraph turned.
“Which way to the Hellforge?” Izual stared at him as though he were mad. Inarius stared back, not caring.
“Why in the seven hells do you want to go there?” Izual finally demanded.
It was Inarius’s turn to huf. “Well, I've been pretty tattered for a while now. I think it's time for a new outfit, don't you?” The smaller seraph gestured at his unprotected stomach, then at Izual’s own bare torso.
“And well...” Inarius looked down at his arm, contemplating the stones still poking out of it. “Maybe I’ll be able to get rid of these. Or at least cover them up.”
Honestly, that was the big reason he wanted to go. But finally fixing his armor would be a swell bonus.
“...I can't believe you.” The bestial angel crossed his arms. His wings pumped hard in aggravation. “The Hellforge isn’t some place you can just go whenever you feel like it.”
“Why not?” Inarius floated away slightly, his arms akimbo. Izual fluttered after him.
“ Why not ? Because it’s constantly swarming with demons that’s why not!” The seraph threw his arms up in frustration.
“Well, sure, but so is the rest of hell. Although wait! Hell has been particularly empty lately. There was barely anyone trying to stop me!” Inarius’s wings flickered in a happy, if slightly manic way. “Surely the forge would be the same? It would, wouldn’t it Izual?”
Izual blanched as his personal space was suddenly invaded by a very excited fallen angel.
Giving Inarius a shove (which he seemed unbothered by), Izual crossed his arms. “No. At the very least we’ll find the bloody armorer there, and I’m certain the place will be crawling with overlords.”
Inarius looked a little crestfallen for a moment, barely-visible wings losing the rest of their color. They flared back up again however, and Izual braced himself for whatever the little bastard was thinking now.
“ You look like an overlord.”
“... No. ” The large seraph knew exactly what his partner was thinking.
“Your skin is so blue...but there is plenty of ash around!” Inarius put a hand to where his chin would be, and looked Izual up and down. “If you rubbed a little on yourself, and suppressed your aura, they wouldn’t be able to to tell it’s you - not from a distance anyway.”
“Oh for- we are not doing this, but even if we were , what about you? You stick out like a sore thumb around here.”
“Oh that is true…” the smaller angel went quiet, internally debating with himself. Izual huffed a sigh, and observed the land again. He had no intention of ever returning to the blasted forge. Too many painful memories surrounded the place. Not to mention that the armorer there seemed to hate him in particular.
Indeed, it had been Hephasto that originally struck him down…
“I’ve got it!” Inarius hollered. Reluctantly, Izual turned back to him… only to be met with near-blinding light.
“Damn it Inarius! What the Hell are you doing!?” The behemoth roared. He covered his eyes with an arm, and allowed himself to drop a little ways down.
“Okay, you can look now.” Inarius’s voice sounded...deeper, more guttural. When Izual finally dared look again, he couldn't help but do a double take.
Where there had floated the ungainly, awkward form of the fallen angel, a massive beast now hovered. It vaguely resembled Inarius from his days in Heaven in shape, though without any of his thick armor. Instead, the beast was covered in red-brown-orange scales. Tusks poked out of the grinning maw, which was filled with sharp, angular teeth. A thick mane surrounded the head, and draped over where the eyes would be - if they existed at all. The angry red gem cut through the forehead, and was framed by a pair of spikes.
Where there had once been armored gauntlets there were now thick claws built for tearing. Where Inarius’s greaves had been, he now had cloven hooves with a ridge of heinously sharp spines on the calves. Great, batlike wings flapped at the air, although the careful observer would notice they weren’t actually keeping the body aloft. Inarius had even given himself a spiked tail, which greatly resembled Izual’s own.
All in all: he looked like a demon.
“Okay, that’s not too bad.” Izual had to (begrudgingly) admit. Inarius always had been creative when it came to stuff like this. “But we’re still not going.”
Inarius tossed his head up, likely rolling his invisible eyes. “Oh fine. You can stay here. I’m sure I’ll find the forge eventually.” And with that, Inarius spun around and shot away.
“Huz-hey wait!” Izual dove after him.
The false-demon paid him no mind, and flew almost merrily ahead. He weaved and dove, and Izual resisted the urge to join him. Damn angel instincts. He didn’t have time to go dancing around with his lunatic of a companion.
“Inarius! Get your ass back here!” Izual hollered. If anything, Inarius flew faster. Cursing, Izual flapped hard, gaining some height. When he was far above the other, he dove, wings tucking up to his sides.
Inarius let out an alarmed squawk as he was barrelled into from above. Izual clamped his arms around the other angel arms (again) and dragged them both down.
“We,” Izual snarled as they fell, “are not going to bloody Hellforge !”
“Why are you you so against this!?” Inarius demanded, thoroughly annoyed. He kicked out, struggling to escape.
“It’s damn suicidal!”
“You’re the one making us plummet to the ground!”
Izual didn’t get a chance to reply when they both smashed into said ground. He had an abrupt vision of stars and static, the air having been driven from his lungs. Inarius landed on top of him, adding further insult to the injury. Bastard was much heavier than he had any right to be.
“You’re a complete, and utter dumbass Izual.” Inarius groused, extracting himself from the other fallen angel. He pulled himself into a sitting position, and patiently waited for his companion to regain himself. While he now had every intention of abandoning the other seraph, he wanted to make sure the bastard hadn’t broken something.
He cared too much for his own good sometimes.
“At least... I’m not... you .” finally came the rumbled reply. Izual scrubbed at his face, and cracked one eye open to glare at Inarius. Inarius merely grinned at him.
Finally, the blue behemoth pulled himself up. He squinted at the demonic angel before him, looking a little confused. He opened his mouth, but then closed it again with a shake of his head. It wouldn’t help either of them for Inarius to know that his arm was glowing slightly. Izual was fairly certain it was those damned gems again. He was totally uninterested in dealing with another tantrum though.
“Honestly though.” Inarius piped up after a minute. “Why don’t you want to go to the Hellforge?”
“I already told you.” Izual grunted.
“Yes yes, demons and the Armorer. But there’s more to it than that, isn’t there?” Inarius cocked his head, and Izual turned away. The other angel always had been too perceptive for his own good.
At Izual’s sullen silence, Inarius snuffled, and stood up.
“...You don’t have to come with me. I’m going.” Inarius stretched his fake wings, but tilted his head. “Y’know, whatever’s got you so scared of the forge...well, it’ll either kill you or it wont.” And then he bent his knees, and launched himself skyward. Izual stared dully after him, vaguely irritated and confused. He watched the other fallen angel shot up, and pause for a moment, before darting to his left. Presumably to look for the hellforge.
The forge was a symbol of Hell’s power. Why had he attacked it all those ages ago?
Well, if he was being honest with himself… Izual had grown arrogant. He had lead so many successful attacks, in so many hopeless situations. Tyrael had trusted him. Hell, even Imperius would look at him with pride. He thought they would have continued to trust him to lead this attack.
But they had told him it was a fool’s errand. Tyrael had forbade him from leaving.
That made him want to attack all the more - If only so that he could prove them wrong. Looking back… Izual could start to pick out the Prime Evil’s subtle influence even back then. They had to have known that he, being one of Tyrael’s most-trusted, would be privy to things they could use. Things like the Soulstones, or Heaven’s infrastructure. The Assault on Heaven would have likely gone very different had the Prime Evil not had the knowledge picked from Izual’s mind. It knew exactly where to strike to cause maximum chaos. It knew exactly where the angels would be, and what they’d be doing.
How long had Diablo been planning his assault? Who could say. As far as Izual was concerned, he’d only been used to mastermind the Great Exile. He’d been present for the attack on Heaven...but it was really more of a blur than anything.
Well, there was nothing he could do about it now. His options now were either going after Inarius, or figuring something else out.
Izual hesitated. The Armorer would eat Inarius alive, he was certain of that. And when the demons found him free…
Later, Izual would say self preservation made him do it. Inarius knew what he looked like, and knew where he’d been. He would completely deny the tight, upset feeling in his chest. The knowledge that someone was going to undeserved torture and death, whether they brought it upon himself or not, made him unable to sit idly by.
The fallen angel threw himself into the sky. Inarius could have only gotten so far.
Hahahaaaa. A Chapter!
Izual it's okay. You're aloud to have friends. Even if your new friend is a former-megalomaniac, current-lunatic.
Inarius can disguise himself. How handy.
Chapter 7: A Trinity of Freaks and Madmen
In which Inarius messes everything up, Izual is caught in the frey, and Hephasto is...there.
Hell was really much larger than he gave it credit for.
Inarius’s sense of time wasn’t great to begin with, but he knew he’d been flying for kind of a while now. In addition to being big, Hell was also very dull, and everything looked more or less the same.
Funny, that where the Heaven’s preached order and uniformity, its Silver City couldn't have been more diverse. By contrast, the chaotic Hells had savaged itself into consistency. Sanctuary, as expected, managed to be a bizarre fusion of both. Humans liked consistency. Yet they were constantly thirsting for more knowledge, more power, more everything .
...It was something he had not allowed himself to even think but… Inarius missed the dirt ball. He missed his humans, and the clear blue skies that never [but once] saw armies of angels or scours of demons. He longed for it’s deep blue oceans, it’s bright days and quiet nights.
Certainly, anything was preferable to Hell, but Inarius had found paradise.
No. He’d created his paradise. He, and...and…
The angel in disguise physically shook himself. That was enough remembering, he had somewhere to be, and something to do. It would not do to be lost in thought while muddling about the Hellforge.
It would’ve been really quite nice if Izual would’ve gotten over himself and accompanied, but oh well. Inarius may have wanted Izual’s company, but he certainly did not need it. It would’ve made staying out of his head easier though. While he’d been internally-focussed, Inarius had seemingly crossed into another plain of Hell. The sky, already hot and generally awful, had somehow gotten worse . It was thicker, and filled with particles. Hmm, particles? Inarius decided it was probably time to put down.
Landing on his hooves, the hidden angel considered his surroundings. More particles in the air likely meant there was either a large fire, or nearby lava . Perfect.
“Anyone with any sense would put their forge next to lava.” Inarius mumbled, casually assessing his surroundings. “It’s got the best heat.”
With a nod, he set off. He couldn’t see any lava or big fires, so that meant it was probably in a lower level. Inarius was in no hurry though. He could stand to wander for a bit.
Three hours and a lot of circles later, and Inarius found a staircase. It was conveniently leading downward.
The steps took him to what appeared to be a river of lava. A perfect place to set up a forge!
“Hmm hm hm, hmm hm hm, down, down to the river to pray~” Cheerfully, Inarius made his way down. He couldn’t remember exactly where he’d heard the ditty, but it had been stuck in his head for some time now.
“Say what you will about it.” Inarius decided he wasn’t done talking to himself. “Hell is the ideal place for metal-working. There’s already fire everywhere .”
Finally, he reached the bottom.
“Now if I were a Hellforge...which way would I beee…”
A group of corpulent demons might have been staring at him, but they kept it to themselves. He rather enjoyed the fact that the demons simply ignored him. His disguise was doing its job. It was fascinating, both demons and humans would readily accept someone as long as they looked like one of them. Certainly, there were always skeptics, but the masses were happy to accept what their eyes showed them.
This did not exactly tell him which way the forge was though. And he wasn’t stupid enough to ask, thank you very much.
Inarius shrugged. Wandering around had gotten him this far. He felt safe to assume that eventually, he’d find what he was looking for.
A war-cry was the only warning Inarius had. Instinctively, he threw himself forward...and just barely avoided a massive hammer coming down on him. His last thought was ‘so that’s a smith’ before he was leaping about, dodging the angry hellspawn best he could.
Wandering around had gotten him exactly where he’d wanted to be. For about ten seconds.
Whom he could only assume was The Armorer was much quicker than he had any right to be. For such a big bloody demon, he was weirdly graceful. The smith had clear control over his weight. Three-toed claws proved better for traction than Inarius’s temporary hooves, and the fallen seraph found himself faltering. He skidded around the anvil, nearly crashed into a rack of bent and cracked blades. The thing roared again, sounding as pissed as a demon could be.
The forge was surrounded by Overlords and corpulent demons, but they were keeping their distance. Likely, they were placed there to guard to forge and it’s smith, but, well, demons were demons, and demons weren’t really...loyal. Thus, they simply allowed whatever wanted in, and would deal with whatever remained.
He only had a few seconds to absorb all this as The Armored gave chase to him.
“I will use your soul to fuel the forge!” the demon screamed. Inarius very nearly stopped, hit with a wave of familiarity…
Thankfully he did not stop, and did not get crushed into a particularly shiny pancake. But he was distracted. He was curious. That voice was so familiar. It was making him...remember...
“Your bones will be my weapons!” Inarius twisted mid-leap, landed facing the demon. Stopped, stared. It couldn’t be…
The last time he’d seen him had been - he didn’t want to think about it but- it had been with her. With the others. Inarius had thought he’d been killed, and his light safely returned to the Heavens. He’d never imagined anything like this. The others...the angels and- and the demons - they’d gotten away, but at the cost of-
Roaring angrily, the maybe-not-quite-a-demon tried to wrench his hammer free from where it’d gotten stuck in the ground. Inarius stumbled forward on shaky limbs to stare into demon’s face. The angry scowl. The glittering, amber-gold eyes. The horns, one of which was cracked...cracked in the same place Hephasto’s had been.
The Armorer pulled his weapon free.
For a moment, he looked just as confused as Inarius felt, momentarily thrown by his prey’s new behavior. He glanced to his left and right, as though expecting an attack, but of course none came. With an obvious mental shrug, the demon began his attack once more.
It was funny, but that moment only reaffirmed what Inarius now knew. He distantly realized this was probably a reason why Izual didn’t want him going to the Hellforge. Being killed by one’s own best friend was possibly one of the worst ways to go.
A noise somewhere between a giggle and a sob bubbled out of his throat. Well. This was it then. His best friend was alive. Inarius was going to be dead.
The Armorer brought his hammer down - and was abruptly slammed sideways. His shout of rage was drowned out by Izual’s roar, and the onslaught of ice-magic that accompanied it.
“Stupid stupid son-of-a-!” Izual was snarling obscenities even as he began to cast another spell. Hephasto would flatten him if he got close enough, he had to keep him away. And, if he could, grab his idiot companion, who was oh-so-helpfully standing there doing nothing .
“You!” Hephasto roared as he struggled against Izual’s magic. He swung his great hammer and obliterated the shards of ice trying to cage him.
“I beat your face in once Izual! I’ll do it again!” The smith threw himself forward, and with a curse, Izual leapt into the sky.
“Again…?” Inarius mumbled, numbly watching the two. Hephasto was here...Izual was here too. This really should have been a much happier situation, and it would have been, if everyone wasn’t trying to kill each other.
Izual was really focused on trying to stay alive, but couldn’t help but worry about his oddly quiet nuisance/friend. Hephasto swung- missed! - and Izual spared a glance at Inarius. To his irritation, the demons surrounding the forge were creeping closer.
“What’s wrong, angel !?” Hephasto jeered. “Lost your metal? Can’t face me without your sword !?” He stalked back and forth, having completely forgotten Inarius.
“Seven Hells, shut your damn mouth Hephasto!” Izual pumped his wings, rising higher. He summoned his magic once more. Freezing Hephasto in place hadn’t worked, but perhaps a different target would do the trick. Izual let himself drop.
With a laugh, Hephasto surged forward - and let out a strangled yelp when his hammer was blown from his hand. While The Armorer scrambled after his weapon, Izual leapt towards Inarius.
“Of all the times to drop out on me,” He muttered as he shoved an overlord aside. “You picked the worst one, Inarius!”
Disguise still in place, his companion belatedly looked up at him. The loss and confusion was clear on his face, and Izual had the abrupt feel that he had missed something. Inarius was fucked up, but not this fucked up.
There were demons closing in on them now. Hephasto had swept his hammer from the ground - but he was simply staring at the duo.
“...What’djou say?” The smith snarled lowly.
“C’mon Inarius, we need to go .” Izual reached out, grabbed Inarius’s arm. The other angel didn’t move. And overlord snarled, and raised his blade.
At that moment, a few things happened. Izual knew he would either have to carry his companion or fight his way out. And so, he raised a claw, frost clinging to his fingers. Hephasto, seemingly enraged, charged towards the pair - and as Izual cast his spell, the Armorer smashed into a line of demons, and Inarius…
Well, Inarius exploded .
“You stupid, wretched bastards… you’ve both got some explaining to do.”
Izual snuffled, let let out a sneeze.
“Oh good, you’re not dead.” Someone nearby was making a racket. Izual hoped they would stop. His whole left side ached, and he just wanted to sleep.
“Well, come on. Wake up.” A beat, in which Izual tried very very hard not to move. “I said,” Smack! “Wake up!”
Jerking up, Izual let out a very soul-felt roar. He stared angrily into the equally-pissed off face of Hephasto. For a solid ten seconds, neither of them moved. Then:
“Oh hey, at least I didn’t blow you up, uhh, too much.” Jerking around, Izual found Inarius - his disguise gone - curled around himself. An uncomfortable sense of deja vu niggled at him. His left arm was shredded. The arm he’d had wrapped around Inarius when he blew.
“You.” Izual gasped, coughed, continued, “You are such a pain in my ass.” Inarius just fidgeted a bit. Hephasto growled. The red gems that had started this whole field trip from hell (had they gotten bigger?) glittered unsettlingly.
A jolt ran through his arm, and he nearly yelled aloud. But then… the pain faded. Looking down, the fallen angel found his arm perfectly intact. What’s more… As the trio watched, Izual’s arm started glowing.
“Uuhhm.” Hephasto was shooting questioning glances between the two of them. Inarius just shrugged. Izual tried very hard not to panic.
“I- Inarius what in the Seven Hells are you doing .”
“I’m... not .” The other fallen angel had curled up into a tighter ball. His gaze was rooted on Izual. The gems flared bright.
Arms weren’t supposed to do this. Arms didn’t glow.
Arms didn’t grow new armor where flesh should’ve been.
Fallen Angel count: 3
Hephasto will be explained more in the next chapter, but a few quick notes: In his original lore, Hephasto was a close follower of Inarius, and fell either before or with him.
Nothing actively contradicts this, so I'm running with it.