The Old King and the New Bride Ch. 04byKindasortacrazy©
Hey, guys! Sorry this one took so long, but there were a lot of ideas that I had to cram in here. Also, 43 pages is a LOT of work. I'll do my best to crank out 5 a lot faster. For now, enjoy.
Chapter 4: Traitors and Thieves
That bitch. I'm going to fucking kill her.
I make my way down the main hall as quietly as I can, ducking into the shadows at the slightest noise. I may be raging out of my mind, but I'm still in Leyna's disgusting body. No demon will know I'm really their queen and may question why a simple succubus is wandering the main hall unaided. That bitch knew exactly what she was doing: switching bodies with me gave her all the power she wanted and left me to navigate a demonic world alone.
I hate that woman.
I continue to skittishly walk down the hall, determined to stop her from taking over my life. Knowing Leyna, once she solidifies her new bond with Lucifer, she'll make up some stupid excuse to have me killed. I'll never bother her again and she'll have my husband all to herself without him ever finding out. She's an evil bitch, but a crafty one.
There's a sudden burst of noises behind me, signaling a new flood of demons entering the hall. I panic and dart to the side, squeezing into an enormous crack in the wall so I can hide. I stay completely still, hoping that no one will notice. Seconds later the hall fills with demons, all of them caught up in their own lives and oblivious to the world around them. Thankfully, I've squeezed myself far enough into the crack that I'm completely hidden by the shadows and out of sight. I'm safe for now. I just have to wait until the crowd dissipates and I can move on.
I watch the crowd silently, waiting impatiently for them to leave. After three minutes the hall's still jammed and I'm getting antsy. The longer I wait here, the closer Leyna gets to stealing my husband away. I shift on my feet, anxious to get out of thus crack and rip that woman's head off.
A soft tap on my shoulder nearly breaks my vow of silence. I spin around and stare into the darkness, barely able to slap my hand over my mouth in time to stifle my scream. The sconces out in the hall cast a few flickering strands on light into my hiding place, illuminating an enormous bisected abdomen and eight long, slender legs dangling above me in the shadows.
I nearly faint. I hate, absolutely loathe spiders. They're disgusting, evil creatures that bite and crawl uninvited around my house. And now, there's one the size of a Volkswagen Bug hanging a few feet above me. This is Hell.
"Easy now." A deep, rumbling voice cascades down from the creature. "Believe me, my dear, the last thing I want is to harm you."
Slowly, the eight legs start to move, crawling down the wall and carrying the spider's massive bulk with them. As it descends, I can see startling patterns of red, blue, green and gold hair swirling around the abdomen. They're quite beautiful, but I shake my head and remind myself that this thing is still a spider. Pretty as it is, it's still horrifying.
Finally, it crawls down the last few feet of the wall and turns to stare at me. Eight black eyes pierce through the darkness and watch me. A monstrous mouth with dozens of toothed parts move silently, and thin lines of saliva drip from two main fangs. My stomach twists itself so tight it almost bursts, and I let out a soft whimper.
First Leyna steals my body, and now a spider is going to eat me. I'm fucked.
The spider raises one thing leg towards me. "Easy. I've told you I mean now harm, Michelle."
The mention of my names stops my cycle of fear. How does it know I'm Michelle and not Leyna?
"How...how do you-" my voice is shaky, but slightly relieved. Not everyone is fooled.
There's a glimmer of a smile inside its eyes. "I saw the cause of your current misfortune. Luckily for you, I was crawling across the ceiling at the time of your argument with Lenya. I watched her switch forms with you and run off, while you remained unconscious on the floor. Had I been able to move faster, I would have taken you back to my children until we could decide what to do."
Relief washes over my entire body. This spider, disgusting as it may be, is a witness to my predicament. I force down most of my fear, determined to have it help me. It may be the only hope I have of getting my body back and saving my husband.
I swallow loudly and clear my throat. "And you would be..."
The spider laughs. "Oh, of course. Forgive me. That was very rude of me not to introduce myself to the queen. I am Kerion."
Another bubble of relief rushes through me. Claire's friend, thank God! He's a spider, but a good one that's helped out another human before me. I'm definitely safe with this arachnid.
I let out a soft sigh. "Thank God."
"You're quite smart to have hid in here. If anyone had seen you, they'd have sent you back to the harems."
I nod. "I didn't want anyone seeing me. I need to find Leyna and kill her."
Kerion nods. "I understand. Truth be told, you're not the first person in hell to want her gone. That woman has been a thorn in nearly everyone's side."
I cock my head, staring at him. "So why haven't they gotten rid of her."
He sighs. "She's a wily one. Once she wants something, there's almost no stopping her. You're also not the first person she's switched bodes with to get out of a tight spot."
I give a disgusted sigh. "So she's been a super-bitch from the get-go."
"Yes. She's always had a difficult time understanding where her station is. She's too ambitious for her own good."
I steal a glance towards the hall. It's still packed, and I start to worry she's sleeping with my Lucifer as we speak.
"What if she's already got him?" I wonder quietly.
"She won't. Lucifer will be in meetings all day. We have a few hours to recruit help and get you back to normal."
I look back at Kerion. "But what if she gets to him before we can?"
"The good thing about Leyna is that she's a terrible actress. Lucifer may fall for her act of playing you for a few days, but she can't hold it for long. After three or four days, he'll notice the woman he's married to is acting strangely and investigate why."
I stare at him. "She can't hold a character?"
Kerion shakes his massive head. "Leyna's too self-centered and lazy to keep up an act for long. Besides, playing you will mean she'll have to change her entire attitude and pretend she cares about someone other than herself. A few days of that and she'll be barking orders like she always does. At that point, Lucifer will know something is wrong."
That makes me feel a little better, but not enough to erase every fear I have. "What if, in the few days she can play him over, she orders my execution? She's walking around in my skin. There's nothing stopping her from trying to get rid of me once and for all."
Kerion laughs again. "Smart girl, but you have nothing to worry about. While we are a ruthless bunch who live in a ruthless world, we do have a few bureaucratic roadblocks to jump over for anything drastic to be done."
"Meaning?" My anxiety -- a happier, less frightened type -- sparks up again.
"If Leyna were to order your execution to keep you out of the way, the decision would have to go through the Counsil first. Leyna's track record would have to include some very grievous charges to allow her execution. Although most find her annoying and snake-like, Leyna hasn't done nearly enough to warrant her death. That, and the process takes a minimum of a week to be cleared. By that time, Lucifer will have noticed his queen isn't completely normal and we will have had plenty of time to recruit help."
I nearly collapse from relief. Even if she wanted to, Leyna couldn't just order me dead and move on. She'd have jump through a few flaming hoops first, and that would give Lucifer enough time to notice the flaws in her plan and allow me to seek him out and explain what happened.
Hell? Yes? Completely unfair? Not really.
I look at Kerion again. "Once he did notice there's something wrong with me, do you think Lucifer would know where to look first?"
He nods. "Lucifer's had a few demon women chase after him, but Leyna's been the most aggressive. If he ever though someone's messed with his queen, he'd chase her down first."
My twisted gut has relaxed itself a bit. I've got a few safeguards on my side until I can get my body back, and Lucifer is far too intelligent to be fooled by Leyna's charade for very long. Once I catch her and get my old self back, I'll beat the shit out of her and toss her to Lucifer. But I have to hurry. Leyna must know I've awakened and figured out what happened. She knows I'm gunning for her, so she'll be trying to make the first move before I have a chance to kill her.
Silently, I shudder to think what will happen to her once she's been found out.
Behind me, Kerion sighs. "This isn't working. They should have left by now."
He's right. The hall is still swarming with demons. It should be barren by now, but they're staying for some reason and it's making me nervous. I shift on my feet, my gut twisting in anticipation of being discovered.
Kerion sighs again and inches forward, gently brushing against my arm as he crawls forward. "Come. We don't have time to wait for them to leave. There's obviously something keeping them here, and we'll never get your body back in time if we try to wait them out."
I freeze and stare at him. "I have to go out there?"
He nods. "I'm afraid so, your highness."
On cue, my stomach completes another back flip. "But what if someone notices that I'm not..."
He turns to look at me. There's a smile in his eyes that clams me a bit. "Leyna might be overly-ambitious, but she's smart enough to know her place when the time comes. She's still in training to become a full-fledged temptress, and all training succubae hold their gazes down when walking through the halls. Until they graduate to the likes of Babylon's whore, they're not allowed to make eye contact with higher ranking demons."
"Oh." I give a relieved sigh. If keeping my head down and my mouth shut will keep my alive, then that's a task I can easily accomplish.
"Just keep your head down and speak only when spoken to. You'll be fine."
Cautiously, he steps forward, barely stepping one slender leg into the mass of demons. He looks back at me and nods, ordering me to follow. I nod and take a deep breath, ducking my head and pulling an invisible zipper across my mouth. Kerion nods one last time and steps out into the crowded hall. I race after hum, bursting into the main corridor and instantly overcome by the noise.
Everyone is talking, and I can't make heads or tails of who's saying what. I shake off my momentary confusion and step up behind Kerion as he makes his way down the hall. I stay right behind him, staring at the marble floor as I follow Kerion through the crowd. He's obviously got some respect in this world; the demons that see him coming step out of the way and smile at him. Their smiles fade to frowns when I pass by, but I'm relieved to know they're not angry at me. It's Leyna they hate -- I'm just wearing her skin.
"Kerion," I risk a whisper. "Where are we going?"
"To Lilith. She's the only one that can help us."
I nearly screech to a halt. Lilith? She's going to help me? I hold back a burst of laughter. Lilith would never help me! She hates me too much to care about what happened with Leyna. With my luck, she probably planned the whole thing.
I scowl at the ground, seething that we have to ask Lilith for help. I'm honestly a little upset with Kerion, even though I know he has my best interests at heart. I don't want to see Lilith. Once we tell her what happened, she'll probably laugh at me, or attack me or-
A deep booming voice startles me. I glance up to see Belphagor rumbling towards us. He's bigger than I'd ever imagined him being, though I've only seen him sitting down at dinner. His ebony wings -- or what's left of them -- are folded against his back, his bright green eyes trained happily on the old spider.
"Where are you clambering off to?" He walks over and claps an enormous hand of Kerion's abdomen.
"Leyna and I have business with Lilith." Kerion sounds genuinely happy to see Belphagor. The two of them must go back a long time.
Belphagor's eyes flick to me and widen a bit. "What does Lilith want with her?"
"Nothing. We want to see Lilith?"
A burst of laughter rolls from the demon's mouth. "Why are you visiting that old crone? You may be one of the oldest of us here, old spider, but she's not going to pay you any respect."
Kerion nods. "Yes, I know. I'm used to her outlandish behavior. I wouldn't expect anything more from that spoiled brat. I do wish the master would put her in her place every once in a while."
A broad smile crosses Belphagor's lips. "He did! The bitch was fool enough to insult the queen. Lucifer nearly tore her head off! She scampered away as soon as dinner was over."
My stomach does a front flip this time. So the look of horror I saw on Lilith's face was real. My husband probably erupted at her for trying to tear me down. And by what I'm hearing, he scared the shit out of her. I smile to myself. It's nice to know I have a husband, fallen though he may be, who will defend me instead of letting the insults fly.
"Though, I'll admit, Lucifer didn't do all the work."
Kerion's eyes widen a bit in surprise. "How so?"
Belphagor's smile widens an inch. "The queen held her ground just fine. She was calm the entire way through, but she verbally scratched Lilith's face off. She's human, but she's a strong one. And that chest! I swear, old man, you could recite Shakespeare off that balcony!"
Pride bubbles to the surface. So Belphagor sees me as strong and sexy. Good, that means I've made a notable first-impression on the angel. My mix of politeness and strength has served me well. I hold back my smile, staring at the ground as the two males continue their talk.
"So, why is it you want to see Lilith?"
Kerion does his best interpretation of a shrug. "Leyna needs a bit more training before she graduates. I thought the whore queen herself could offer us a bit of advice."
Belphagor's eyes flick to me. I risk a glance up at him, biting my lip involuntarily as I do. Those green orbs narrow a bit in disgust, then soften suddenly. Then they widen, as if he's just realized something astounding. He cocks his head to the side, still staring at me but utterly confused.
He looks back at Kerion and speaks in a hushed voice. "Come with me." He spins and begins to make his way down the hall, parting through the sea of demons like he's Moses.
Kerion looks at me worriedly, but turns and follows Belphagor. I stay right behind him, walking just to the side of his abdomen so his body shields me from oncoming demons.
"Why is the hall so busy?" Kerion asks.
"Michael's arrival really set the boss off. We're taking refuge until his mood calms."
Shit. He's still angry. Damn it, Michael!
We walk through the demons, then take a sharp right down one of the many halls that lines the main corridor. We take another right and suddenly we're engulfed in pitch-black darkness. I grab onto Kerion's leg for support until my eyes adjust. They don't need to. Belphagor claps his hands and a little flame alights in the single sconce above us.
We're in a tiny alcove hidden between the walls of the fortress. In here, we're hidden from the view of the other demons and safe from suspicion.
Belphagor turns and starts at me, his eyes narrowing in anger and disbelief. "You tell me the truth, Kerion. This isn't Leyna."
I stare at him, thunderstruck. My heart nearly stops beating and my lungs seize up. Can he see through Leyna's trick? How can he tell? Is he going to kill us?
Kerion steps forward. "Belphagor, what would make you think-"
The demon raises a hand, cutting of Kerion's words. "I said be honest. I've known that witch too long to be fooled. This woman is far too demure and quiet to be Leyna."
So I've failed at pretending to be Leyna. I can only hope she's stumbling at being me as much as I am being her.
Kerion sighs. "Unfortunately, this isn't Leyna."
Belphagor glares at the old spider. "Then who is she?"
"That's quite a story, Bel. Perhaps one best suited for less hectic times," Kerion's struggling to push us forward, overpowered by the rank and power of the angel before us.
"I said be honest with me, old spider! Who is this girl?" Belphagor's furious now, annoyed that Kerion's avoiding the question.
You're queen, aren't you? Stand your ground, dummy.
I nod to myself and gather whatever strength I have left. Before Kerion can answer, I raise my head and look straight into Belphagor's eyes. "How dare you yell at him. He's done no harm to you, only offered me help. If you're so curious as to who I am, then question me!"
Those piercing green eyes widen in shock. My heart rate picks up again. I've stunned him enough to keep him from attacking Kerion, and I may also have set the stage for proving who I really am. If I can hold my ground for a bit longer, Belphagor might figure this out and offer us his help, too.
"You ask who I am. I am your queen, Belphagor. And while you are in my presence, whether I am in my body or not, you will show respect to Kerion. He has done more kindness to me than most humans have. You will not yell at him again, or you will face my wrath as well as my husband's."
Belphagor stands in stunned silence for a moment. Then his eyes narrow and his mouth turns down into a scowl. My throat locks up again, and I wonder if my attempt to prove myself has backfired and only pissed him off.
"How did she do it?" Belphagor's voice is low, furious...deadly.
It's my turn to be stunned, but this time it's out of relief. The gears in his head turned enough to put the pieces together, and now he's pissed at Leyna for switching bodies with me. Small wonder, since he probably hates Leyna as much as I do. She's probably slighted him or made derogatory comments about his character. Bitch.
I shake my head. "I don't know. She surprised me in the hallway, kissed me and took off with my body."
Belphagor snarls and slams his fist into the wall, causing the stones to shake and streams of dirt to pour onto my shoulders. "That bitch! I knew she was up to something!"
"That obvious, huh?" I ask softly.
He snorts angrily. "That woman has been plotting to take the master for centuries. Unfortunately, your majesty, as a human, you've provided her with the perfect chance. You're not demonic, so you have no defense against her tricks. Stealing your body was the simplest way she could get her prize without having to do anything to earn him."
I scowl at the ground. "So I was just her easy way out."
Belphagor nods apologetically. "Yes. Leyna has never liked actually doing any work, so in a twisted way, being a queen suits her well. But we know her well enough to never allow her to actually run for the position. With her in charge, nothing would get done, the master would be out of commission, and Hell would fall into ruins within months."
I stare at him, bewildered. "But I'm human. What makes me a better choice?"
"Because you are human," he smiles. "Firstly, the master has wanted to find a virgin girl to corrupt for centuries, so having you as a queen fits his fantasies perfectly. Second, you're far more balanced and dependable than Leyna, which means even if Lucifer gets taken out for a few days, you'll make sure things still run smoothly. That, and you've actually got a spine to you. You may be human, but you've got more credibility and strength in one finger than Leyna will ever have."