Two Kingdoms (Page 29)

When my eyes open, Lucifer is just staring at me, giving the illusion of a patient man.

“Feel better?” he muses.

“I’d feel a lot better if I could find my crown.”

He nods like that makes perfect sense. “I’m sure it’ll turn up. Are you done with your rant or did you have more to add?”

I tap my chin like I’m giving it serious thought, before giving him a bored look. “I think that covers it. Unless you’re willing to tell me why I wanted to walk away from a fight and take the easy way out, when it completely goes against everything I do know about myself.”

His eyes go a little cold.

“You were designed as a failsafe weapon, but we soon realized you were so strong. If ever too strongly imbalanced, you could damn well destroy us all,” he states like it’s no big deal, taking a few steps away as he pockets a hand. “You lessened your strength by giving away important pieces of your balance to your boys.”

My paintings suddenly appear on all the walls around us, and I do well not to startle about that too.

“You’re the perfect antihero, along with your harem of destruction,” he continues. “Exquisitely balanced like no other, with a system too complicated and intricate for any other to copy.”

He pauses in that dramatic way of his before adding, “I created you in the peak of my madness, because as we all know, with pure genius comes pure insanity.”

It feels like he’s playing my vanity card right now, so I immediately go on alert, even if I do give into the urge to smirk.

“Only you could take that as a compliment,” Ezekiel mutters on a groan as he scrubs a hand over his face.

“I don’t know about the old me, but the new me is starved for a little recognition,” I state dryly.

Bye, bye, headache.

Lucifer gives me a thin smile.

“Of course they wanted me to destroy you. All my brothers voted in favor of your immediate termination, before you had the ability to affect the cosmic balance with your death.”

My little bubble just has to get popped every time it’s barely inflated.

“I know I’m evil, but that’s a little overboard,” I decide to point out.

He nods, his smile lifting at one corner of his mouth.

“Indeed. But you’d already started balancing hell, and you were evolving as this magnificent, feisty, arrogant little thing. The more you worked, not even really exerting much effort, the more lucid I became. The clearer I could see things…so many things. Images were coherent instead of just the scattered, frozen pieces inside the fissures of my mind.”

His nose drips a drop of black blood that sizzles in the air as it hits the floor beneath us.

“You mostly balanced me. They knew I’d never give you up after that. You’re my favorite child for so many reasons. That’s just one of them,” he continues, wiping away the next drop of blood.

“You weren’t strong enough to face Jahl, because you’d shared your balance with them,” he says, gesturing to all four of my boys. “But with your death, perhaps those pieces have returned.”

I shake my head. “Not possible. They only get individual erections with me.”

It’s entirely the wrong choice of words to use for the argument, but it’s a little too late to do anything about that now.

Lucifer seems stumped on how to respond. I feel like a pat on the back is deserved for stumping the Devil.

“We still feel her,” Gage tells him, his reasoning sounding much better than mine. “That bond is there.”

“Of course the bond is there,” Lucifer says dismissively. “The pieces of her balance had nothing to do with the bond. That was only ever to restore your own personal balances. You no longer need her balance for that.”

This could be a big fat lie, but I have no choice other than to roll with it.

“Then I’m confused. How did I find them if my pieces are gone, and how is there a bond?” I ask, holding up my hand like this is class and he’s our hell teacher.

“You spent centuries together. That sort of time is what forges the bond. It’s how you fused those pieces into them. They’d suffered the same misery in Hell’s Black Heart, and it joined them in comradery. They’d forged a bond already, and you cemented it when you gifted them with the Horsemen powers.”

I glance back at them and then to Lucifer, suddenly seeing where this is going, and hoping I’m wrong.

“You were never meant to be a champion. You were supposed to be the weapon to end the world in the event that the champion failed. To preserve balance, only one champion could exist at a time, and it took many centuries to grow that power before he could face Jahl. When Matthew was slain, desperation struck, and you were tasked with an impossible feat.”

“But I like impossible feats,” I state, my journals moving through my mind.

“You do,” he says, nodding. “And you’re fearless when challenged. You’re too vain to run from a fight, and far too wrathful to pass up the opportunity to cause mass destruction. And you can find a balance to make any decision you truly want to.”

A stone settles onto my stomach, as another drop of blood leaks from his nose. I worry he’s bleeding because he’s being too serious, which means he could be telling the truth and only the truth.

“You’re also reasonable,” he grinds out. “You knew you couldn’t defeat Jahl, and you’re not selfless enough to sacrifice yourself in vain. It’d shatter the balance if you did. But you wouldn’t just say that to them. You refused to give them that information, and I trusted my daughter, who lacks the capability of deception, when she told me to trust her.”

He laughs humorlessly, running his hand over the continuously leaking nose.

“Even I know how ridiculous it sounds to have the Devil ask for one’s trust,” he says, the words parroting the exact words he said to me when I once assumed he was attempting to provoke a memory I don’t have. “Those are the words you said to me when I told you to let me explain the truth to them,” he continues.

“It was so easy to kill me, because I allowed them to do it,” I say quietly, swallowing thickly.

“You went topside, even though we both suspected this would be something they attempted. You didn’t even fight back, because you needed that shift in balance—your unnecessary death at the hands of the pure—to achieve the impossible,” he goes on, his voice getting raw. “You didn’t even warn me you were about to put a plan into motion, because I was part of your balance for this equation. A small piece of it, no doubt, considering all you would have had to shift around to make this happen.”

His eyes water a little as he takes a step forward.

“Betraying me was a selfless act, because you knew I’d stop you, and there was only one way you could restore your Horsemen’s true balance, and possibly defeat Jahl. Simply because you can’t walk away from a challenge,” he goes on.

Even without a conscience, I was almost feeling bad, until that last part.

“You’re trying to make me feel bad for wanting to save the world?” I ask dubiously.

His chin wobbles. “We’re not heroes. You’re reasonable enough to know this. You didn’t want to do this for the heroics; it was just your vanity and pride talking.”

“I doubt I was trying to be a hero. From the sound of things, Jahl is eventually going to kill us all, even if we do seal everything up and level the world. It would have been a selflessly selfish decision,” I argue.

“At the cost of my sanity for over five-hundred years!” he snaps. “And you didn’t even warn me,” he goes on, his voice growing quieter.

When a tear drops from the Devil’s eye, I get so queasy, feeling like a horrible person. How terrible is a person if they can make Lucifer cry?

“They were more important to you than your own father,” he goes on, another tear falling. “And you didn’t even allow yourself to remember me.”

“Well, clearly my memories were a huge sacrifice I had to make in order to come back,” I reasonably point out. “And my knowledge. I don’t remember my harem either.”

Oh, f**k my life. I’m seriously trying to console…the Devil.

He cuts his eyes away, blinking back tears as he turns his back on me.

“How is this happening right now?” I mutter under my breath, still feeling sick.

“My favorite daughter just…gone. Along with my mind that grew worse and worse until it was just fractured images in the fissures all over again,” he continues. “Until you came back, and I could feel the balance you were restoring. I was too scared to hope that even you’d accomplished that much of the impossible.”

He disappears before I can say anything else, and I turn around to find my quad just staring at Lamar, who has apparently been eavesdropping, though I know it hasn’t been long.

I get it. It’s weird to have just witnessed that and everyone is trying to avoid looking at me.

I feel weird too.

I turn and walk back toward my room because I need a minute to process all this s**t. After all, I’m not superwoman. I’m the anti-f*****g-superwoman.

I resent that b***h for being so damn awesome. I bet she doesn’t have to deal with s**t like this when she has to save the world.

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