The Royal Family of Hell: Episode 4, Sealed with a Kiss

The final installment of the series.  Be sure to check out Episode 1, Episode 2, and Episode 3.  Stay tuned–we may check in with our Royal Family in future episodes.

Everyone seated around the table had fallen silent when Disharmonia had laid out the question of whether or not they would be signing the contract. It might have been the length of a human heartbeat or the span of an epoch before anyone spoke again.

“That is, indeed, the question,” Lucifer said softly. He met Disharmonia’s gaze. She saw a flicker of something—pride? Fear?—cross his face before he schooled his features into his usual stern expression.

Disharmonia squared her shoulders and looked the blond woman in the eye. “No,” she said. The word seemed to reverberate off the walls.

Next to her, she felt Neriel shift. She risked glancing up at him and noted that his jaw was set; she couldn’t read him at all. She knew that she was going to have to do something. Or rather, she knew her father was going to have to do something. In fact, she was counting on it.

The blond woman gave a single nod, and Disharmonia thought she saw the faint trace of a smile, but it was gone before she could be certain. The woman held out her hand expectantly, and everyone returned their copies of the contract to her. She collected everything and placed it carefully inside her briefcase before snapping it shut.

“I believe our business here is concluded,” she said, “until such time that an acceptable solution can be arrived at between the parties.”

“Wait!” Lucifer put up his hand. “First I want to know why Disharmonia didn’t sign it.”

This was her only chance. If what she said didn’t convince him to take action, nothing would. Disharmonia stood up and moved around the table to where he was seated. She knelt down and put her hand on his arm. Looking up at him, she said, “If you could come to an agreement in order to keep me from Heaven, then surely you can find the solution without the contract.”

His reaction wasn’t what she had hoped for. He frowned down at her. “Whatever I might have in mind will just have to wait until your sentencing.”

Disharmonia gasped at his cruelty. “But—”

Lucifer held up his hand. “I have nothing further to say on the matter.”

“I do, however.” Lilith’s voice was quiet, but there was something in it that made everyone sit up and take notice.

“Disharmonia has refused to sign the contract. I do not see what else there could be to talk about!” Lucifer slammed his fist down on the table.

“I had hoped,” Lilith said, her voice dripping with intentional calmness, “that you would arrive at an acceptable solution on your own. It would seem that I need to step in.”

“Just what are you talking about, woman?” Lucifer demanded.

“I believe our angelic friend may be able to make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

Lucifer looked to the blond woman. He raised an eyebrow at her. “Oh, really?”

The woman nodded. She flipped her briefcase open once again and withdrew yet another paper. Instead of passing it directly to Lucifer, however, she handed it to Disharmonia, who accepted it hesitantly. She read through it three times before she allowed herself to hope.

“Well?” Lucifer demanded. “What does it say?”

Lilith replied, “Do you remember how hard it’s been to find guardians for the Place Between?”

Lucifer grunted. “Of course. We’ve only been arguing about this for several millenia now.”

“Right. And why can’t we find anyone?”

He glared at his wife. “We all know that it’s because their side”—he jerked his head at the woman and her companions—“keeps making things difficult for us. Won’t let us torture the souls held there or even so much as try to get them to choose us.”

Lilith just rolled her eyes. “Not that we haven’t done our share of interfering when they start singing the praises of paradise. But what’s the real issue?”

Lucifer crossed his arms. “We just don’t get along.”

“Right. We’ve never been able to make it last because no demon wants a permanent working relationship with an angel.” She glanced at the woman. “I suppose it’s likely the same at their end. Not only that, none of us have exactly been objective about who we send in. It’s been escalating for a long time.”

“I still have no idea what you’re getting at.”

“Disharmonia, dear, please give your father the paper.”

Disharmonia slid the paper across the table to Lucifer. He snatched it up and began reading. As he read, Disharmonia watched his eyebrows go up and his eyes widen. She held her breath.

He slowly placed the paper back on the table and spent at least thirty seconds smoothing out the wrinkles he’d put there when he grabbed it. At last he looked up and said, “This is…utterly brilliant.”

Disharmonia slumped back against her chair. Around her she heard the collective sighs of relief. She looked over at Neriel. There was something in his smile that seemed—rather self-satisfied, if Disharmonia was reading it right. She tilted her head to the side questioningly, but he shook his head just a little.

“Later,” he whispered.

“So that settles it, then,” the blond woman said. “Once Disharmonia and Neriel are ceremonially bonded to one another, they shall become the permanent guardians of the Place between. From there, they will have equal access to either side, should the occasion arise. In return, they agree to the terms and conditions of their position. They will neither interfere with the natural proceedings nor with one another in their dealings with the human souls.”

There were nods of agreement all around, and the woman pulled the contract towards herself. She applied her official seal to the bottom and passed it around the table for the others to do the same. Once it was signed, she tucked it back into her briefcase and closed it with a snap. She stood, and her angelic bodyguards followed suit. Everyone else took that as a cue to rise from the table as well.

The woman turned to face Lucifer. “Our people will be in touch about the particulars regarding the rights and responsibilities of the involved parties, although I suspect this will be a far easier task than it has been in previous attempts. I shall send someone to inform those assigned to the post that their time is limited.”

“We can take care of that,” Lucifer snapped.

The woman gave a small snort. “As though we would ever trust your side with that job.”

Lucifer pouted, and Lilith patted him comfortingly on the arm. He huffed and muttered, “It was worth a shot.”

“Yes, dear,” Lilith murmured. She rubbed his arm lightly.

Meanwhile, Neriel walked the blond woman to the door. He leaned in and said something to her that Disharmonia didn’t catch. He glanced back at her and smiled before opening the door for the woman and her companions. She stepped out at a brisk pace, snapping her fingers at the other two to keep up.

When they had disappeared, an awkward sense of relief settled over the group. They shared a moment of silence. After a time, Disharmonia said, “We should probably go make some plans.”

“Of course, dear,” Lilith replied.

Free to do what they liked at last, Disharmonia reached out her hand and Neriel took it. They laced their fingers together and left the room, leaving her parents alone.

Although Disharmonia knew that she would have some freedom to come and go from her home—which she wouldn’t have had if she’d been banished—she was still sorry to be leaving it behind. Still, it was better than giving up everything to become someone she wasn’t. It pleased her, too, that her husband-to-be wouldn’t need to change for her, either. She supposed it was probably bad form for a demon to appreciate equality or justice, but she’d never been a typical demon anyway. Besides, it wasn’t much better for an angel to trust himself to a demon, yet here they stood.

Before Neriel needed to return to the Heavenly Realm, Disharmonia wanted to show him one of her favorite places. She used her considerable power to transport them to the very edge of the volcanic river where the burning blooms shimmered with heat. She could think of no place more beautiful.

Disharmonia could tell from Neriel’s expression that he was torn between telling her what she wanted to hear—that he found it lovely, too—and being truthful that he preferred the light and air of Heaven. She decided to make that conversation unnecessary by leaning up for a kiss. That was one thing they both understood and found beautiful.

When they parted, Disharmonia said, “You knew.”

“Knew what?”

“Knew that I would never sign that contract.”

He smiled. “Of course. I was trusting that a demon who could love an angel would also love her father and have respect for herself.”

She grinned. “You understand me so well. Was the rest of it your doing too?”

“Nope.” He laughed and put his arms around her. “You can thank your mother for that.”

Disharmonia pressed herself against Neriel in a tight embrace. She smiled against his chest, thinking she would have to find a way to do something special for her mother. “Well, I’m glad she did. I suppose that’s down to knowing Daddy so well.” She peered up at Neriel. “Do you think we’ll ever be like them?”


Realizing this must be on the order of whether or not the volcano was beautiful, Disharmonia quickly said, “Never mind. I’ll settle for us being—whatever it is we are.”

“Sounds good to me.” He sighed, a look of utter contentment on his face.

“Do you really not mind giving up eternal residence in Heaven?” she asked, pulling away from him.

Neriel laid his hands on Disharmonia’s shoulders. “Are you kidding? Anything to get away from the constant singing. Plus, I never did like watching over humans. It’s pretty boring.”

“Well, it was until you met me,” she reminded him. She giggled. “That poor woman. She was being watched over by a less-than-guardian angel and tormented by a demon who would rather have taken her out for lunch. She’ll never be the same.”

Neriel shrugged. “She’s human. She’ll survive. Though after what we put her through, her soul will probably end up with us anyway.”

“That oughta cause her to pick which side she wants in a hurry.”

“One less we’ll have to worry about.”

Disharmonia gave one last look at her beloved volcano. “Shall we go start making plans?”

“Maybe in a few more minutes.”

With that, Neriel drew Disharmonia to himself and leaned in to capture her lips. It was quite possibly the most holy kiss Hell has ever seen, and if anyone had witnessed it, the impression would have lasted for an eternity.

©April 25, 2013 ABMitchell



The Royal Family of Hell: Episode 3, A Contractual Obligation

Part three in our sudsy Otherworld drama.  How will Disharmonia escape being put on trial?  Will she be allowed to marry her one true love?  If you haven’t read them, be sure to check out parts one and two.

John Martin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Disharmonia twisted her hands in her lap. Seated to her right, Neriel gently laid one of his own hands on top of hers and she stopped, but she began twitching her foot. Neriel sighed and withdrew his hand. He rested his forearms on the table, his fingers interlaced. Disharmonia, meanwhile, wrapped her arms across her body as though trying to physically hold herself together.

After several tense moments, the door opened. Her father strode in without a glance in Disharmonia’s direction. He flung himself into a seat at the head of the table and crossed his arms. Lilith, who had followed him in, sat down gracefully on Disharmonia’s left. She offered Disharmonia a sympathetic smile before training her eyes on Lucifer and giving him a quelling look. Lucifer just rolled his eyes and huffed.

There was a sharp rap on the door, and then it opened. In strode a tall, blond woman in a pristine white suit. On either side of her were two equally impressive men. Both of them wore suits made of the same blinding material as the woman. The dark-haired man sported a sapphire blue tie, and the redhead had an emerald green one. Their eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses.

Without preamble, the woman lifted her briefcase onto the table and flipped the latches. She opened the case and pulled out several sheets of what appeared to be fine linen paper. She handed one to everyone at the table.

“What is this?” Lucifer growled.

“I was under the impression you were literate.” The blond woman’s expression remained impassive.

“I am. But you are here in my territory. Let us say that you should indulge me while you are my guest.”

The blond woman maintained her cool tone. “I am hardly here as your guest. I am not so foolish as to assume you are attending this meeting willingly.”

“Fine. Let’s get to it, then.”

“Do you wish to proceed, or would you prefer to call in your own counsel?”

Lucifer waved his hand. “It’s of no consequence. We both know what the outcome will be.”

“Do we?” She arched one perfect eyebrow. “Hm.”

The woman called their attention to the piece of paper each of them held. “The terms and conditions are laid out in this document. Are their any questions?”

Disharmonia exchanged glances with Neriel. She was not sure how this had been managed. She looked back at the blond woman. “I—I’m not sure I understand how this happened.”

The woman relaxed slightly. “Of course. He”—she indicated Neriel—“came to see my immediate supervisor. He requested that we search for an acceptable alternative to your trial. My supervisor and I drafted this proposal. Although the individual terms may be altered slightly, the contractual obligation will remain intact.”

Disharmonia read through the document three times. It was very clear what she would need to do. The only question was whether or not she would do it. She looked over at her father. He was scowling down at the contract. She sighed. It appeared he had finished reading and understood what it meant.

Lucifer looked up. “Let me make sure I am reading this correctly. Both Disharmonia and Neriel will assume human identities for the foreseeable future. They will live as humans until such time that one or both of them dies a human death. Am I correct so far?”

The blond woman nodded. “That is the general idea. After such time as one or both of them dies, they will return for a period of time until it can be determined what will be done with them. As you know, she cannot abide with us above, and he cannot remain with her below. That violates all the terms of your original agreement with our Lord.”

Lucifer pursed his lips and tapped his fingers together. Disharmonia could see that he was gearing up for something. At long last he said, “And what, exactly, will be done with them when their term of human service is complete?”

The woman didn’t break eye contact with him when she said, “She returns to you to do as you will, and he returns to our Lord for the same.”

“And they will not be allowed further contact with each other at that time?” Lucifer’s voice was even, but Disharmonia detected an underlying note of anticipation.

The woman shook her head. “At present, the condition is that they will have no contact unless it is allowed by both sides.”

Disharmonia raised her eyes to stare at the woman. How was this fair? She would be limited in how long she could be with Neriel as a human, and afterward there was no chance that her father would allow her to remain with him. That was definitely a deal-breaker. She would not sign the contract, even if it meant that she would have to stand trial and be banished from Hell forever. At least if they were both in the Place Between, they could be together. She would take her chances on what sort of life that would be.

“Good,” Lucifer said. “I believe I can live with sixty or so human years before I take this to trial.” He gave Disharmonia a hard look.

The woman surprised Disharmonia by smirking. “Not so fast. You didn’t really think this was just a way to give the lovebirds a way to sort themselves out for a few measly decades, did you?”

Lucifer, clearly taken aback, gripped the edge of the table. “What do you mean?”

The woman reached back into the briefcase. “Did you read point five, under the restrictions?” She withdrew her hand, now holding another piece of paper.

“Of course I did,” snapped Lucifer, reaching for the paper. The woman held it just out of his reach.

“Then you know that there is a limit to how much interference you are allowed while they are human.”

Lucifer frowned. “Of course. But I fail to see what that has to do with anything.”

“You know that the degree to which you interfere is directly proportional to the countermeasures allowed by our side.”

Lucifer drummed his fingers impatiently. “I’ll take my chances. But I get the feeling there’s something you haven’t told me.”

The woman handed around the second piece of paper. Disharmonia accepted hers and began reading through the new document. When she had finished, she had to fight hard to contain the smile that threatened to break free. Oh, there was no doubt that her father would not like this one bit.

Right on cue, Lucifer began a low growl. He had reached the crucial bit of information. He crumpled the paper in frustration and pitched it into the middle of the table. “Just what is your Lord doing with this?” he demanded.

The woman chuckled. “Oh, this wasn’t his idea.” She leaned forward. “This one was all mine.”

“What you’re saying is that unless we arrive at a permanent solution to this…unfortunate situation within the duration of their human lifespan, I have to agree to this condition?” He huffed angrily. “And just what will all of you be giving up?”

“I think you’ll find that there is no need for us to give anything up. Do you really think that we won’t uphold our end?” Her smile was condescending. “We are incapable of that type of failure.” Her eyes darted briefly to Neriel before her gaze snapped back to Lucifer. “Aside from ill-advised entanglements, that is.”

Disharmonia held her breath. She wondered which would be harder for her father—staying mostly out of her affairs for the duration of her human existence, or giving up his creative rights on which of the humans’ irritating videos went viral. A thought occurred to her: What if he refused to sign? She reached over and squeezed Neriel’s hand.

Apparently, the same thought had occurred to Lucifer, because he asked, “And if I don’t agree to this?”

The blond woman took a third piece of paper out of her briefcase. “Oh, I think you’ll sign.” This time, there were no duplicates. She slid the only copy across the table to Lucifer.

He reached out for it, and Disharmonia saw the slight tremor in his hand. She realized that he knew what was on the paper, though she herself could not fathom what it could be. Her shoulders tensed in anticipation.

Everyone’s eyes were on Lucifer as he read. When he had finished, he looked up. His expression was still hard, but Disharmonia could see defeat in his eyes.

“The original contract,” he whispered.

“Yes. You have complete control over your minions. But there’s this teensy little problem with that when it comes to your children. Of course, I suspect you haven’t told them. That is your right, of course, but under the circumstances, I think you should explain.”

Disharmonia looked at her father. This time, he returned her gaze. “Love,” he said simply.

Her mouth fell open. It wasn’t her love for Neriel that allowed her to escape a trial; it was Lucifer’s love for her. She quickly recovered herself. “Love?” she asked, trying to sound casual and like she hadn’t just made the connection.

Lucifer sighed and dropped his head to his hands. When he looked up again, there was pain etched across his face. “Yes. Because I love you, I have to give you more freedom than the other demons. And because I have to give you more freedom, if I don’t sign, I lose you.”

Disharmonia suddenly understood. If Lucifer lost her, that didn’t just mean she would end up in the Place Between as she would if he evicted her. She would end up in Heaven. And while that would make it easier to be with Neriel, she would also lose herself in that—the same way Neriel would lose himself if he joined her in Hell. It was what made their relationship so complicated to begin with; neither of them wanted to ask to be released from their homes.

She was suddenly afraid. She knew this contract was intended to protect her and Neriel, but the consequences of her father’s actions were a punishment for her as well. She closed her eyes briefly. A thought popped into her head and she decided to go with it. She opened her eyes and looked directly at the blond woman. “And what happens if I don’t sign?” She felt Neriel tense beside her and chose to ignore him.

The woman nodded. She clearly understood what Disharmonia wanted to know. “Nothing. If you don’t sign, then your father does whatever he was going to do before I arrived.”

Disharmonia looked at Lucifer. “Then I guess the question is, will we all sign this?”

The Royal Family of Hell: Episode 1, A Match Made in…

Lucifer’s daughter is bringing her chosen mate home to meet Mom and Dad.  Who could it be?

Author’s Note:  This story was inspired by something one of my followers tweeted to me.  He used the phrase “royal family of Hell,” and it stuck.  I think we will see these characters again in a future post.

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