The Cursed - By L.A. Banks

Level Seven... Hell

Lilith stood before her husband, her breathing nonexistent, her body as still as stone. A curtain of darkness covered her along with a sheen of terror-produced sweat.

"So, where does this leave us?" the Unnamed One said in a very quiet tone, his voice releasing on a weary sigh. "Explain your position." For a moment she couldn't force her vocal cords to respond as he circled her, the echoing sound of his hooves against the cavern floor a reminder of his vast destructive power.

"My son, Dante, is gone. Slain by a Neteru. My grandson exterminated by his own mother - Eve ... a Neteru now undoubtedly elevated to finally reign with Aset for her selfless act. Tell me, dearest Lilith, where shall we begin our dance of pain?" He'd breathed out his question with such eerie calm that she closed her eyes, no longer straining against the impenetrable darkness to see him. She didn't have to; she already knew the beast within him was beyond appeasement. She'd failed. Her time was nigh.

"We are where we wanted to be," she finally said, her tone resigned. "There is no more to say to you than that, beloved. Do what you will with me." A slow, deep, rumbling chuckle filled his bedchamber. "We are where we wanted to be,"

he repeated in a flat, sarcastic tone. "I cannot fathom what I should do with you for this debacle. Come, come, now, my dear. You can do better than that." Tears of remorse filled her eyes and she shook her head. "You warned me, and Cain is extinct. What else can I say? There is no way to hide the truth from you. That is where we are ... where we ultimately wanted to be."

"How interesting. Where we wanted to be. That you will have to explain further, before I snuff out your very existence from my realms."

He walked away from her, and she noticed that she no longer heard hooves but just the soft pad of his bare feet against the stone floor.

"Amuse me with your bullshit, Lilith - give it a good attempt, just for the sport of it, at least. For you see, I am so bereft that even I wonder at the need to commence the Armageddon. I keep asking myself whether it would be more efficient simply to scorch the earth with my wrath and be done. Yet even I am beholden to a certain cosmic fate of timing. So make it good while I await the appointed hour of battle between the Light and the absolute Darkness. Tell me something that will give me pause." He lifted the pitch blackness around her and returned her night vision so that she could fully see him. Oddly, rather than appearing as the hideous monster of unspent rage, he was standing before her, his arms folded over his massive chest with a wry, sexy smile on his handsome face. This was far from what she'd expected and a much more deadly version of his fury than he'd ever shown her. The terror his quiet composure produced made her breaths shallow. They stared at each other for a moment.

"Your heir lives in the realm you could never breach, as promised," she said carefully. "He is growing in Nod, being cultivated within a living, hybrid womb." Her husband slowly unfurled his huge, black feathered wings, casting a shadow over her body, but she was glad that he was still calm enough that the more horrifying leather ones he owned hadn't presented. She watched his dark eyes, also noting that they hadn't begun to glow, and then allowed her eyes to study his mouth. No battle-length fangs. Yet the pain he could exact didn't require a transformation, just the blink of a thought. Lilith sighed, choosing each word as though it might spare her meager existence within the very fragile seconds of amnesty he'd afforded her. "Right now, they are blind - the Guardians, the Covenant, and the Neterus, and probably both Neteru Councils as well. They think they've won, and are in celebration. This gives our heir a chance to develop and grow unmolested. Patience is the key. However, the loss of Cain was unavoidable ... he allowed emotion and rage to rule him, and he prematurely rushed in - "

"And was therefore expendable," her husband said coolly, coming close enough to touch her cheek. "You did well," he added, delicately caressing her face with a smooth palm.

"Cain had delusions of grandeur and