Back in the dark realm, Astaroth returned still disguised as Pandora. She retired to her quarters that held the massive crystal ball in the center of her room. This was how she infiltrated human dreams with her magic crystal ball that not one other demon knew about.
While she investigated the ball, she could see Raina in her room shouting and tearing up her bedroom, throwing things and crying. Astaroth’s own thoughts brought a smile to her face.
There, my work on Raina has helped. Now she is angry without reason, isolated by her own hand. So, my work can begin. But I don’t have any clue why I should help Lahash. We do not need another prince back in the realm. Who has missed Naberious anyway? I know I haven’t. Lahash has yet to pay for his misguided deeds and how he treated me. What if I infiltrate her dreams, and I get her to summon me? But only me. What if I go to her as myself? What if I tell her Pandora has lied to her? She will have no other choice but to love me, and she will forget Pandora. The real Pandora stays locked away in the underworld forever, and Naberious can remain in Egypt for all I care with the stupid fairy book. I win. Lahash can maintain his lower station at court. The dark one will pick me over Lahash for the vacant spot. I will get more legions, and the males at court will be forced to respect me.
Meanwhile, Lahash took himself back to Egypt to locate Naberious. As he strolled into the place where Naberious hid, he whispered, “Naberious, it is me, Lahash. I need to speak with you.”
From within the darkness, his cold amber eyes emerged. “What is it you want now?”
Lahash said, “You were right, that wasn’t Pandora.”
Naberious moved out of the shadow. “How did you find out? Why do you return here to tell me that?”
“Naberious, I will not play games with you. There is one vacant seat at the round table in court. I want this seat, and the only way I see that I may have it, is I please the dark one. As you know, he would love to have you back. Moloch has taken on such an attitude with your absence. If you return, bring the fairy book back with me, I will certainly be presented with a seat.”
Naberious swiftly moved from the shadow and appeared in front of Lahash. “Why should I help you! You are nothing more than a parasite of the dark realm. I know you, Lahash, as far back as your creation. You seek pleasures that are not of our world. The human women you use as concubines. The lustful ways with Astaroth, who loathes your existence.” His steely eyes bore into Lahash, who did not exhibit any sign of humility in his ways. “You want me to return with you, with the book? Well, that will never happen. I am staying here. There is enough for me to survive. I will not return with the book and risk Selena getting it back!”
He left Lahash standing, but his face lost its smugness in exchange for a surprise. His eyes searched in the dark as he spoke, “You loved her? You cared for her?”
From within the darkness, the low muttering was audible as Naberious said, “Yes. I loved her; I still do.”
Lahash said, “You ridicule me for being what we were meant to be. You regard me as a parasite, for being what we are created to be. You are the duke of the dark realm. A coveted position, one that many demons would enjoy having, yet you throw it away on a fairy. Why?”
“I grew tired of my position. Moloch, he does his job well, and he is passionate about soul collecting. I have existed for thousands of years, with the same expectation. The one that is rarely spoken of. When humans are collected by Moloch and sent to the dark realm, they go to a place that is hell for them. Something they feel they will never escape. After they have completed their time, they are removed, and it is my job to annihilate their souls. I just needed a break and went to a cemetery. I had never forgotten about Pandora, but I learned to live with not having her. Living hoping to see her again. One day, it happened. I found her. When I saw Pandora after all those years, I knew we reunited our souls for a purpose. The lost piece of myself returned, and I felt whole again.”
Lahash snorted, “Demons cannot be another half of a soul key. I have never heard of such rubbish. You are delusional. How much longer do you believe that the dark one will allow your exile to remain? A few more hundred years? He will call you back in the future.”
“You will not mock me! And do not pretend to believe that you know nothing of love. You do to know, even as fleeting as that time was for you. You know love!” Naberious shouted and sent Lahash flying into the air, where he hit the wall of the abode, and propelled him back into the floor where he could not move.
Naberious revealed himself and leaned over Lahash, who could not talk or move. “Lahash, you will never mock me again. If you want your stupid seat at the high court and to feed on the scraps from the dark one’s table, you will have it, but you will do as I ask. Do you understand?”
Lahash’s eyes were wide, filled with fear, an emotion that he was not accustomed to. With a curt nod, it was then Naberious released his demonic hold on him.
Lahash struggled to his feet as he dusted off his top dollar suit. He rubbed his throat and coughed, “I never loved Astaroth.”
“I do not speak of Astaroth. You and she have a very long history together, which most demons do. You both were lustful. You know who I speak of.” Naberious turned his back and peered out of the small window in the Egyptian home within the city of the dead. His silhouette was much like a statue, that glowed in the moon light. “I know of your time, in Italy.”
“Italy?” Lahash questioned. “No, you must be mistaken. I loved no one from Italy.”
Naberious turned his body to face Lahash, and he walked back to stand within inches of his face. “Yes, you did, Lahash. Milan, Italy in the 1700s. I know of your Sophia. I know of your pain and your obvious denial.”
“How do you know about her? I was alone then, not having been to court much. I never spoke of her to another.”
“Lahash, I am just as about as powerful as the dark one, and you know this. I also know much about the demons in our realm as well, though they stay here on Earth. I was the master of the human exile, in charge of destroying their souls. What makes you think I wouldn’t know. I was there.”
Lahash pulled away from Naberious. “You were there?”
“Of course, I was there, when the dark one’s exiled lover was freed for the millennium to roam, I was there in the shadows. As much as the dark one would love to have her company again, we all know she can never be allowed to come back, for the same reason Astaroth is kept suppressed. Only a female demoness is a threat to us.”
“Naberious, what are you speaking of? I do not understand this. Astaroth, a threat? A female demon a threat? This makes no sense. You are sounding like the humans.”
“What was it about Astaroth that kept you coming back for more? Think about it Lahash. What was is about her that you stayed for the hundreds of years you did?”
“I don’t have time for your games Naberious! I came to help you and now you want me to listen to you talk about my time with Sophia and bring up memories I avoid!”
“This is not a game Lahash, as much as you try to make it a game. This is very real. Female demons, they are more powerful than we are, and will always be because they hold the power of creation, they can by far persuade humans more easily than we. Look at what Astaroth accomplished by impersonating Pandora. How she influences, convinces, and subtly moves her way up. She is very cunning and if I were you, I would watch over my shoulder. Besides, you saw what happened the night of the convergence, when Lilith roamed Earth free to do what she wanted. How many humans lost their lives? How many children were murdered in her name? How many human men did she seduce and devour in their blood?”
Lahash admired Naberious, his eyes were glazed in shock and for the first time, Lahash was speechless.
“Lahash, you fell in love with a human for the same reason I fell in love with a fairy. It is real, and whatever it was that she gave to you in your fleeting time, it was true and for no other reason. I understand fairies; especially the nymphs who play tricks. But Pandora was different. She was real and I knew her from another life right here in this city. It was not just some lustful attraction, a fleeting moment of heat. Do not pretend to not understand why I remain here and stay within my own confines of pain and memories.”
“Why do you do it? When I lost Sophia, I never wanted to feel that pain again, or think of our time together. I put those memories away, and I have never allowed myself to feel that again, and I never will. Humans can’t be with demons no more than fairies can be with demons. Why do you do this to yourself? You can come back and try to pick up the pieces.”
“Fairies and demons can be together. Our dark lord has never cared nor bothered with what we demons do for our entertainment if we do as we are commanded. It is Selena who forbid it, and she did so because of her own pain. And demons can be with humans, but only through Lilith, and well, you already know all of that. But even if you could live a lifetime with one, they would pass, and you would be left. It isn’t realistic.”
“I know Selena has always been secretive, never even telling much about her own past. But why does she care if fairies are with demons?”
“Lahash, you are smarter than that, and I know you know why Selena hates demons. Think about this. Fairies are neutral beings, they help demons take the wicked souls to the dark realm, or they help the good and lost souls cross over, to make a choice to go onto be a spirit guide or to live a life as a human again. They do not side with good or evil, they are the Universe’s ultimate balance. At least before what happened between us, they were. I am the reason that they no longer help the lost souls, nor do they help collect the dark souls for us.”
“Naberious, do you mean that Selena has been with a demon?”
“Now you are thinking like I know you to do. Yes, she was and it was many years ago, much before your creation and as far back as when I was once worshiped here as Ikenty, I was feared by the ancient Egyptians, I am one of the oldest existing demons. In-tep, was one of the elders, who no longer exists.”
“In-tep, that is a lore. And who was Selena with?”
Naberious turned and locked eyes with Lahash with a subtle smile. “Why is it you believe that In-tep is just lore and Selena still exists?”
“How? Selena is not that powerful. If she could destroy a high-powered demon, then she could destroy us all, that makes no sense.”
“Lahash, Selena is smarter than that, and she has not challenged the dark one. She knows that the dark one will forgo a battle for a few demons, but if she were to wage war on us all, that is a different story. Selena destroyed and absorbed In-tep’s powers. This is an old story and very much a secret she keeps, and few of us know. Now you should understand why she doesn’t want you with her daughter. You should also count yourself lucky she didn’t destroy you. She is quite powerful.”
Lahash paced the dark room and looked to Naberious as if he were waiting for him to tell him it was all a comedy, and fairy tale. After pondering, he said, “Well, I guess you do know quite a bit. I can see why the dark one wants you back. You are the only ancient demon left. What do I have to do to help now?”
Naberious said, “You will return to the town where the mortal witch is located. You will use her necromancer skills to contact Pandora from the underworld. If she is there, then the human can release her.”
Lahash finished collecting himself. “Why do you need me? You are a lord of the dark realm; you don’t need me to go or a necromancer? A human?”
Naberious grabbed Lahash by the throat and lifted him upward, leaving his feet dangling. “You will accompany me. You will use Astaroth and get this completed. I do not care how, but you will do it. If you do not, I will destroy you!”
Naberious dropped Lahash to the ground and disappeared.