Deep in the bowels of the Underworld realm, every demon not battling their bitter enemies rested, waiting for a great dark being. This being, known by many names over the eons of his existence, was Lucifer, a High Celestial of unspeakable power. In this newer, more modern time, he chose to be called Lucien. But the impact of the name invoked the same fear in the hearts of everyone who heard of him. This had not always been so. Once, he’d been at the height of Celestial power, a force for light and good. His name had been whispered in awe.
Those times were long past and the events that led to his eventual fall from the Celestial realm of Ascension and the evolution to demon is one of myth and legend. Now, with humankind aware that the mystical beings from lore are real, it is a fact. For a story set so long ago, there is no living person who doesn’t know that the actions of one jealous ally had driven Lucien to rip apart his soul to create a monster that could destroy everything in his path. After he did that, no one had expected he would build an army, create a new realm and declare war on the very ally who dared cross him.
Over ten thousand years later, this war was still in its prime and the two beings leading it stronger than ever. And now inside a cage of molten rock, Lucien stirred for the first time since the last epic battle between himself and the Grand High Celestial, Michael. Imprisoning himself after the fight was a decision he made to boost his power tenth fold. It was a dangerous choice that had been a gamble on whether he would succeed or have his kingdom overthrown whilst he slept. But mere centuries to both he and Michael didn’t matter. When you were immortal, time was relative.
Lucien stretched his mental feelers for the cause of his early awakening, branching out from the Underworld Realm to the human world. A thin, barely perceptible golden thread flickered into place, tethering him to something just on the edge of his senses, so slight that he wasn’t sure if it was real. The insubstantial blip had all the markers of a human life and whilst it wasn’t rare that humans appeared on his radar every few decades or so, the fact that this one had connected with him so easily was alarming. The curious part of his nature demanded he explore who this mysterious person was and seeing as that it would take a while for his body to fully wake from his sleep, he decided to follow the elusive beacon to its origin.
Sifting through the murky human world wasn’t something he did often, since sometimes Celestials could feel his presence if he got too close to one of them unintentionally. Because he didn’t know whether what he was going to find was friend or foe, he made sure to be extra vigilant in staying away from Celestial signatures.
Hours or days later, he couldn’t say, Lucien hovered around the tiny spark of life at the end of the thread. If he indulged in this quest to discover who roused him, he would have to rise from his sleep completely. He knew without having to check that the sleep had done its job, there was no reason to remain that way, and he couldn’t halt that too curious part of him. With that in mind, he concluded that he had no choice but to follow the blip to the human world and decide on a course of action then.
Taking a metaphorical deep breath, Lucien cleared his mind of all other thoughts and surged down the golden thread into the spark. The power he had accumulated in his sleep had boosted his reserves to the point where the journey to his human mystery happened in seconds rather than hours.
In a snap Lucien hovered as an ethereal ghost-like figure in what appeared to be a medical center of sorts. He’d been absent from the realms long enough for technology to advance considerably, he noted as he took in the room. Some of the equipment he saw was completely foreign and he made a mental note to get up to date with the human advancement as soon as possible.
A wail sliced through the air and his entire soul froze as his attention darted to the center-point of the room. Lying next to an exhausted woman in a cradle was a small wriggling, baby girl. Drawn closer by a force he couldn’t describe or resist, he approached her. The instant his eyes locked on hers, she ceased her crying and stared back at him even though it was impossible that she could. Frowning down at her, a wondrous realization dawned on him and a joy that he’d never thought he would experience bloomed inside him. His joy however was halted harshly when his eyes drifted down to the pink blanket that kept her warm. A large birthmark marred her newborn chest, only visible because the material had slipped.
It was a replica of the near fatal wound Michael had caused him millennia ago, the darkest splotch of colour was just to the left of her heart. Lucien rubbed his chest and bared his teeth in fury. Michael never failed to infect every corner of his life. His anger was palpable, but a whimper from his precious future brought him down from the edge. He reached out to touch her cheek and used his power to make sure she felt the light feather touch of his fingertips though they were insubstantial.
Just the thought of leaving her to the mercy of humanity was abhorrent to Lucien. He wanted to use his power and snatch her to the Underworld and encase her in glass until she came of age. But he knew that a newborn baby would never survive in the demon utopia.
“I promise I will find you, beloved.” He told the gurgling baby. And with a last longing glance, he melted back into his body.
Opening his eyes was as difficult as he thought it would be. Three centuries was a long time to remain in stasis even for an immortal, and his extremities were throbbing as his blood flowed freely once more. Gearing up for the coming punishment on his limbs, he thrust outwards with a large blast of power. Exploding from his prison, Lucien landed so hard on the cavern floor that a large crack immediately zagged off into the magma surrounding the island.
The first deep breath seared his lungs in a way that could only invigorate a demon such as he. The dormant parts of himself that revelled in fire and heat opened up inside of him and burst free. He knew that if anyone were to look at him now, his eyes would be ablaze with orange. Straightening from his crouch, he moved his power around his body to remove the stiffness and finally let his mind wander to that of his soulmate. She was a miracle encased in fragile flesh. It would take so little to erase her life from existence and there were millions of his enemies ready to snuff her light. Just the idea of her coming to harm caused the cavern to shake with his emotions and he had to close his eyes to calm down.
After a moment, Lucien stepped forward to the lip of the rocky island and spread his large leathery wings. An involuntary groan slipped from his mouth at the sheer pleasure of not having them confined to his back after so long. It took a few stretches of the dormant muscles to regain his infamous control, but soon enough he was ready to see what changes had been made in his absence. Harnessing the energy around him until he got the too-full feeling, he soared upwards as a flaming arrow. Bursting through the cavern’s ceiling, he inwardly grinned at the shocked faces of two demon Legion, obviously tasked with guarding his sleep. Without hesitation though, they immediately fell to one knee and bowed their heads.
“Stand.” It took only a second to comply with his order. “Bring my commanders to the war room and find Cerberus for me.”
With quick bows the two Legionnaires fast-walked out of the room and beyond his sight. Taking a few minutes to get his bearings and to reseal his stasis chamber, Lucien then let out a wave of power that would reverberate its way through the myriad of tunnels and chambers that made up the Underworld Citadel. It was far easier that the millions of demons who lived and worked in his Capital found out about his return all at once instead of word trickling out slowly. He’d leave word of mouth to spread his awakening to the Outerlands.
As he made his way through the hallways towards where his commander’s chambers and war room were, he nodded to the various Legion who patrolled the restricted areas. The other non-Legion demons who saw him reacted with equal fear and awe. In his demon form, Lucien was quite the sight. At eight feet tall, large curling horns, bat-like leathery wings, red skin, claws and glowing amber eyes, he personified demonic power. And a lot of the demons he passed by would have been made whilst he was in stasis so seeing him was understandably shocking.
When he finally reached the central command portion of the Underworld, he used a small push of power to swing open the large doors. A scene of dominating stone architecture amongst natural rock protrusions, enormous iron hangings with sconces full of fire and numerous closed doors that branched out to various restricted sections greeted him. A large circular table with demon sigils that matched the ones adorning his arms were etched into its surface and ten fierce Legion commanders stood gathered around it. At the sight of him, he was instantly smothered by warm greetings from his men and the familiar licking of three excitable dog heads on his hands. He took a minute to return the greetings and moved to his place at the table.
“Not that we aren’t pleased to see you, Lucien, but why are you awake?” Valefar, a clan leader as well as commander, asked.
“The birth of my soulmate woke me.” Lucien knew he had a grin on his face as he said it, but couldn’t stop even if he wanted to. A round of congratulatory noises erupted around the table.
“Congratulations.” A voice from behind him added.
Lucien’s grin faltered slightly at the genuine words, but sad emotion behind them. Turning to face his second-in-command and best friend, Lucien embraced Abaddon tight. As they drew apart Abaddon nodded to him before he could ask how he was faring. In the battle that prompted Lucien to fall into stasis, Abaddon’s mate had been killed by Michael. Even now, he could see the torment hiding behind his friend’s eyes. Now that he’d met his other half, he couldn’t fathom how Abaddon lived on.
“So, what are our next steps?” Archon cleared his throat and asked. As a fatherly type figure to the demons around the table who he helped transition into this life, Archon was the unspoken third in command.
“We need to track her down quickly and quietly.” Lucien began to pace. “Now that I’m awake, Michael will have sensed my power increase. It’s only a matter of time before the Celestials find out why we’re active again and then it will be a race to find her.”
“We’re going to need a stronghold in the human world.” Barbas, an expert demonic tracker, added. “I’ll start the track from there.”
“No.” Lucien stated firmly. “We can’t use your tracking ability. It’s too easily sensed by Celestials, but I agree with creating a stronghold.”
“Can you not track her?”
“No, I only managed to connect because I was in stasis and she was subconsciously pulling me to her. We’re going to have to do this the old fashioned way.”
“Perhaps we should consider using this opportunity to make ourselves a real presence amongst the humans. If we must build a stronghold, we should use it to further our agenda.” Phenex suggested, his fiery body sparking.
“What do you think, Malphas?” Lucien asked his trusted adviser.
“If we create a stronghold under the guise of opposing the Celestials, it will hide our true purpose. Since you’ve been in stasis, they have created their own base of operations and are slowly claiming land as theirs. Our small groups of legion are often returning badly injured or are completely wiped out.” Malphas explained.
“They used my absence, unexplained or not, to their advantage.” Lucien murmured. “The more land they own the more human soldiers they can turn to their side. We can’t let them claim any more territory.”
An excitable hum went through the room, all of the commanders itching to unpause the war.
“There is another thing we should keep in mind. Once you find your human mate, she may not want to live in the Underworld.” Samael, an incubus who spent more time in the human realm than not, added. “Having somewhere safe and defensible will be doubly important if that is the case.”
“Samael raises a good point.” Malphas inclined his head. “With both things in mind, we don’t really have a choice.”
“How many portals do we have close to areas of human populations?” Lucien growled when his commanders didn’t answer straight away. “What?”
“There’s a new Celestial that can close our portals, we’re down to one now and it’s heavily guarded.” Zagan, the bravest and largest demon in the room boomed in a voice only he could manage.
“How have our troops been getting through then?” Lucien asked incredulously.
“Right now the portal is in Celestial controlled lands and it’s constantly a war-zone. Our troops travel through during the fighting. It would be too much of a risk to go through it as the situation stands.”
Sighing roughly, Lucien dragged a hand down his face. “Braxion was in the middle of making another portal when he was killed, it’s barely operational. I can use my power to hold it steady while all of us go through with our troops.”
“All of us?” Lillith asked, she was the only female commander ever to exist and rarely spoke during their meetings.
“Yes, I need each and every one of you in the human realm if we are to succeed. All of you will be spread across the land and take charge in obtaining territory and coordinating searches.”
“How are we supposed to find her?” Charun asked.
“She has a large birthmark on her chest that looks like this.” Lucien gestured to his bare torso. Taking a deep breath, he clawed the table and stared at his commanders. “I can’t express to you how important this is. She is the future of our people and if anything happens to her, nothing will survive me.”
His ten commanders straightened and held a fisted arm across their chest. Their non-verbal vow binding.