Kuro awoke with a start, dripping in sweat and breathing heavily. He glanced around frantically not recognizing the room around him, he quickly sat up feeling that he was under attack. He stumbled out from under the covers in a panicked frenzy. A knock at the door made his heart leap out of his chest and he prepared to strike.
“Kuro? Are you awake? Breakfast is ready.” The voice of his mother, Ai, immediately reassured him the memory of last night and where he was flooded back to him. With a sigh of relief, the pounding in his heart ceased, but he still breathed heavily. “Kuro? I can hear you breathing, are you okay?”
“Yes! Sorry, you can come in.” He called out, wiping sweat from his brow.
She opened the door with a smile but with concern in her eyes. “You okay? You look frightened.”
“I am okay, I just had a bad dream. Nothing to worry about. You know you are welcomed in my…the room anytime.” He took a few more breaths getting himself under control.
“Hun, the last time I let myself into your room unannounced you were having sex with two males. I have no desire to have it happen again. What was your dream about?” She handed him a bundle of clothing.
“I can get my own clothes, mom.” He said, but he still took the pile from her arms. “I don’t know. I felt like I was being attacked but I can’t remember what I was dreaming about.” He quickly dressed.
“Do you get bad dreams often?” She asked worriedly.
“Not all the time. Sometimes my dreams are just nonsensical. Don’t worry, I am fine. Everyone has nightmares once in a while.” He gave her a hug to reassure her. “I will be down soon, I just need to wash my face.”
“Okay, love.” She headed out, “Don’t forget to brush your hair!” She called back to him as she closed his door.
‘Such a worrier.’ He thought, but he was thankful for her. He wasn’t sure if he would have been able to become sane again if it wasn’t for her. He hated worrying her and he never wanted to see her look at him with such fear and pain in her eyes as she did when… he shook his head and splashed water in his face, washing away those thoughts along with it. He lied to her, the nightmares were not uncommon, every time he closed his eyes, it was chaos. Sometimes it was flashbacks to the war, sometimes it was when he…, sometimes he dreamed of Fakir and he was stuck somewhere in pain, and other times he couldn’t remember what he dreamt about, he just knew it was horrible as he woke up terrified and confused.
He stared at himself in the mirror, ‘you look like a monster…’ His mind told him. He shook his head and hurried out of the room, he had to keep moving.
Breakfast went fast, Baal had left earlier, so it was devoid of any argument or fighting. Ai chatted about this and that, but soon enough, the topic shifted to something Kuro found undesirable.
“There are many lovely females here and some males who’d like to start a family too. You should think about maybe-” Ai tried to bring it up gently.
“Mom, we have talked about this before. I don’t want to raise a baby.” Kuro argued, “I do what is expected of me, I make strong kin. But I have no desire to bond with someone and raise kin. I have too much I have to do anyway. I have to find Gehenna, I have to get our home back.”
“Take a year break, you have been going nonstop for a good fifty years. Taking a little break won’t hurt.” she pushed.
“Mom, please…” he groaned.
“Bonding with someone else before Fakir won’t mean you love him less. You can bond with however many mates you want…” she started, but trailed off when she noticed a pained look in Kuro’s eyes.. “Baby, I didn’t mean-”
Without a word, Kuro stood up from the table and started out.
“Oh! Kuro, I am sorry! Please, finish your food.”
“I am not hungry anymore…” He muttered as he walked out the front door. Leaving his mother with regret.
“Good Morning, Prince Kuro.” Lillith greeted him as he walked into the small flower garden just outside the house.
“Kuro is fine. I have never been one for all that title shit.” Kuro mentioned with a yawn. “So this Rainy Cove, does it get this type of blinding sunlight?” He asked, rubbing his eyes trying to adjust to the sun.
“No, not at all. Most of the days are heavily overcast and when it isn’t there are passing clouds. Don’t like the sun, huh?” Lillith softly touched a few of the flowers and they quickly opened into full bloom.
“No, it hurts my eyes. Can we hurry this up? I need to get out of here. The smell of these weeds are suffocating and my skin feels like it is going to start melting any second now.” Kuro complained, sulking back under the house’s porch’s shade.
“Weeds?!” Lillith crossed her arms, “My flowers are not weeds! I-”
“SHUT UP!” Kuro roared back, “Shut your mouth and lets go! I don’t care about your stupid plants!”
Frustrated, Lillith bit her lip, Baal warned her of his temper. She had often seen the result of it as well. She took a deep breath and nodded, “Okay… let’s go.” She said calmly and led him away.
The walk there was awkward, Kuro was completely silent, shoulders hunched upward, teeth clenched. She tried her best to keep her eyes to the path and not look at him, she feared a wrong glance would set him off. She led the way down the brick path through the fields, through a small forest, over a bridge that was over a small creek, and down a steep hill. She attempted to start a conversation with him a few times, as to see if she could ease his tension, but she was only met with an awkward silence. The silence between them would finally break when at last they’d arrive.“There it is.” She pointed to a city nestled in a cove. The sun had completely disappeared behind a thick blanket of clouds and Kuro’s tense posture finally relaxed.
Kuro overlooked the seemingly quiet city from up on top of another hill. “It’s nice. Not so bright, the smell here is nicer too. Damp, sweet and cold, it is comfortable.” He smiled, “Alright, so far I like this much more. I am surprised you don’t, it feels more like Gehenna.”
“Before the war, I was in charge of populations outside of Gehenna. I spent most of my time here, in the human’s realm. I only came to Gehenna to give my reports to Fakir.” Lillith explained, “Don’t get me wrong, I loved Gehenna, but it wasn’t my home.”
Kuro simply scoffed in response.
“Oh! Hello there!” A voice called out to them.
“Good Morning, Andrew.” Lillith greeted the male human who was coming up the path from Rainy Cove. “Whatever are you doing here?” He seemed to be in his mid-twenties, average height. Strong yet young looking off tanned face, with friendly green eyes. He was on the skinnier side, but seemed to have some muscles to him. His sunny blonde hair was pulled back tightly into a ponytail that came just above his neck.
“I thought you said there were no humans in Rainy Cove.” Kuro interjected.
“I said Rainy Cove is mostly demons. There are a few humans who live there, they keep to themselves though. Andrew doesn’t live in Rainy Cove, however.” Lillith corrected.
“Right, I was just escorting a demon here.” Andrew held out a hand to Kuro, “Andrew Colton, assistant to Miss. Caleb. Nice to meet you.”
Kuro stared at Andrew’s hand, “I don’t like to touch humans.” He turned his head away, “Kuroishi, First Prince of Gehenna. I don’t know who this Miss. Caleb is.”
“Alright…” Andrew lowered his hand, “Wait?! Kuroishi?! No way! I didn’t think I would get to meet you! You are a legendary demon! I have heard all the stories!” He gushed.
Kuro raised a brow, “k…” There was a long awkward pause.
Lillith cleared her throat, “Miss Caleb is what Baal is but for the humans. A kind of leader for them on the island.” She explained, “I can introduce you to her if you’d like.”
“Not interested.” Kuro commented, “Just take me to my place.”
“Okay.” Lillith shrugged, “Just a moment. Who was brought here and why?” She asked Andrew.
“His name was Gemik. He and another in Sunny Coast got into a physical confrontation. Gemik got a little too violent and broke the man’s arm. We thought it best to separate them.” Andrew mentioned.
“Was the human removed from Sunny Coast as well?” Kuro interrupted.
Andrew was silent for a moment, “Well,no.”
“Just our brethren, nice.” Kuro shot Lillith a dirty look.
“We didn’t think it necessary to remove both…” Andrew said, visibly nervous.
“Not necessary? Tell me, what kind of message does it send then?” Kuro crossed his arms.
“It sends a message that we need to keep the peace here.” Baal interrupted tailing up from behind them. “We have rules on this island that permit both our brethren and humans to co-exist.”
“Bullshit!” Kuro snapped at Baal. “It sends the message that only our brethren will be punished! Making it seem like Rainy Cove is a place of punishment! Fair is fair, the human should be removed too!”
“Kuro, you were not there! You don’t know all that happened!” Baal snapped back.
“Alright! Fine! I’ll just get Gemik’s side of the story, then.” Kuro started marching toward the city.
Baal rolled his eyes, “Sorry about him, Andrew. Thank you for bringing Gemik.” He said as he hurried off toward Kuro.
“It is alright, and no problem. Good luck…” Andrew nervously chuckled and took the chance to hurry on his away.
“How has he been? I mean before this point.” Baal whispered to Lillith following a bit behind Kuro.
Lillith shook her head, “In a bad mood since he greeted me this morning.”
Kuro slowed down some as he entered the city; this was more to his liking. The buildings were constructed like castle towers with dark bricks and black iron, much like Gehenna. The streets had the same dark palette as the buildings. The city itself was quiet as Kuro took in his surroundings. It’s seemingly peacefulness, however, was soon interrupted by the loud swinging of the front door of one certain building. Following that noise would be a man being tossed out of it and onto the pavement. Kuro quickly recognized the man, not as a human, but as one of his own brethren. As the demon started to find his footing, another would rush out of the building toward him with fists up at the ready. The brawl which presumably had started within the building, continued out on the streets with fists flying and the two colliding with one another. The spectacle brought a smile to Kuro’s face, it really did feel like home.
Suddenly, the familiar sound of a tail whipping onto the ground echoed throughout the walls of the city, which caused the two brawling demons to pause. “ALRIGHT!” Baal sounded off from behind Kuro. “Break it up!”
Kuro clenched his fist. “What the hell are you doing?” whipping himself around to stare Baal in the eyes with a dark glare.
Baal responded with a furrow of his brow. “We don’t allow fighting here on the island. It keeps the peace.”
“That is some class A bullshit!” Kuro growled.
“Prince Kuroishi…” The two brawling demons said in unison as eyes widened in surprise..
Kuro would respond with a simple nod. “As you were! Fight it out! It is the Gehenna way!”
“Really?!” One of them asked before looking toward Baal, as if seeking his approval.
“ASK STUPID QUESTIONS AGAIN, AND I WILL BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF YOU MYSELF!” Kuro hissed. “Do you want to just ‘let it go’ or are you going to fight?!”
The two demons pondered Kuro’s words for a moment, looked at one another and then started throwing punches again. Much to Baal’s dismay.
“Kuro-” Baal started.
“Don’t try to make us human!” Kuro snapped. “We are what we are!”
“The rules on this island-!” Baal started again.
“I am above your rules!” Kuro yelled loudly, the sound of his voice grabbing the attention of many of his other demon brethren around.“Don’t forget who I am! You are Baal, Commander of Gehenna’s army! I am Kuroishi, First Prince of Gehenna! I am higher than you! Your rules are beneath me!” Kuro shifted forward growling into Baal’s face, “And if you don’t like it…” His shouts lowered to an ominous tone.“Then fight me for my power.”
Baal stood his ground, staring him in the eyes.He thought of taking a swing, but could he really win? Even if he could overpower Kuro, it was far from Baal to undermine his own rules in front of the others. Not to mention, if he lost he’d lose some power over them. With a frustrated sigh he lowered his head and backed down in submission.
“That is what I thought.” Kuro said in a low voice before turning his attention to the crowd that had gathered. “Hello, my brethren!”
“KURO!” A shorter bulky demon emerged from the crowd. “You look like shit!” He shouted with arms outstretched, offering a hug to Kuro, who accepted it without a second thought.“It is great to see you!”
“Yeah!” Another emerged and gave him a hug as well. Soon enough, more demons within the crowd had gathered to greet their prince. Then, shortly after that, the bulk of the crowd formed a circle around him. Exchanging hugs, handshakes and friendly stomach jabs at one another.
“You sure are popular.” Lillith spoke up.
“Of course I am.” Kuro puffed out his chest. “A lot of them fought alongside me in the war. Not to sound like Baal and brag, but none who were under my command during the war perished. I made sure none of my troops got left behind.”
“Yeah, he did!” One cheered.
“We are so thankful for it!” Another rejoiced.
“Then you ate that bastard god’s soul!”
It took some time for Kuro to break away to continue onward to where he’d be living. The crowd had gotten bigger as the news spread that their beloved prince had come to their city. “Let us all get together later and we can party it up. For now I am being shown to my new place. Come by anytime!” Kuro’s eyes singled out a rather fit male demon with good looking features. “Especially you.” He winked and shot a grin his way, which caused the male’s face to flush with excitement.
“They love you.” Lillith stated once they were finally away from the crowd.
“What’s not to love?” Kuro teased as he waved toward the crowd, grinning ear to ear.
“So it is true, you really ate the God Zad’s soul?” Lillith said in utter disbelief. “I never saw the battlefield.”
“Yep, it tasted like a rock. Dirty, dusty and slightly salty.” Kuro explained. “It is how I got these scars on my skin. Damn near ripped my body apart.” He laughed.
“You’ve eaten a rock before?” Baal asked with a raised brow.
“I was a kid.” Kuro shrugged.“Kids are dumb.”
“I was wondering how you got those.” Lilith said. “I’ve never seen anything like them before. Didn’t even know we could get scars.” She pondered for a moment. “I mean, missing horns or body parts sure, but never scars. Do they bother you?”
“Not in the slightest. I am actually quite proud of them.” Kuro answered while waving to a few of the other residents who happened to pass by. “I ate the soul of a god and survived. I wear the proof of my accomplishments proudly on my flesh.”
As they continued forward, Kuro caught sight of a taller male who stood out from the others. He was beautiful, a soft round face with large bright yellow cat eyes. Two black cat-like ears peaked out on the side of his head from his matte black cut short hair, with two long small curled horns coming out just above his ears. He wore a nice pinstripe black and crimson red suit with a short black cat-like tail lying lazily behind him. He pulled a gold chained pocket watch from his suit pocket and checked the time before putting it back.
“Hello…” Kuro perked up. “Who is that beautiful creature?”
Baal rolled his eyes. “That is Maow, he serves as the town’s watch when I’m away.. He has been waiting here for us.” Baal lowered his voice to a whisper. “And could you keep from hitting on him? You don’t have to get every good looking male into bed with you.”
“You expect me not to want to touch that?” Kuro asked as he fixed his hair some, and straightened out his shirt. He corrected his posture and continued forward. “I want to scratch behind those cute ears of his a bit.”
Baal groaned in response to Kuro’s less than subtle adjustments to himself.
“Good Morning, Maow.” Lillith greeted him with a worried expression.
“Good Morning, Lovely Lillith and our prideful Baal.” Maow grinned, flashing his pointed cat teeth.
“Me-ow” Kuro grinned.
“What?” Maow asked, confused.
“Good Morning, Maow.” He acted like that is what he said.
“Good Morning, My dear prince Kuroishi.” Maow bowed his head respectfully.
“You can call me Kuro.” He smiled, his tone was much softer and playful than it had been all day.“You are the one who will be helping me get settled?”
“I sure am. Pleasure to have you.” Maow turned toward a rather large gray bricked house. “What do you think?”
“It is quite large…” Kuro stared at the structure, it had to have at least five rooms. “I am only going to be spending a few days out of the month here, I don’t think I need such a massive place…”
“You used to live in a castle.” Baal commented.
“That was my father’s castle and we had hundreds who lived in it.” Kuro looked back to Maow, “If there are others who are looking for a place to stay, bring them here first. I don’t need all this room to myself. Also, you are free to move in with me, anytime.” He’d wink at him.
“Oh!” Maow’s face lit up and he grew red. “I will give it some thought.”
“I am going to go get settled, will you come by later and give me a tour of the city?” He asked with half open eyes and a needy tone to his voice.
“Of course, anything for you.” Maow said in a romantic tone. He’d catch disapproving looks from both Baal and Lillith. “I mean, anything for my prince.” Maow tried to hide his excitement by staring at the ground.
Baal groaned and hurried away.
“Baal…” Lillith frowned and quickly turned to Kuro.“Enjoy yourself, Kuro, we will catch up with you later.” She’d bow slightly before hurrying off to catch up with Baal.
“I see what you mean,” Lillith sighed as she and Baal walked back to their home. “He is very hard to work with. I don’t understand how he even was a commander of a fleet. I would assume his aggressive behavior would make things very difficult. I find it hard to believe that not a single one of his fleet died.”
“I know it does, looking at him now. But there was a time when he was a great leader. You’ve never seen him fight?” Baal asked.
“No, once the war started I was sent to the medical team. I never saw the battlefield. Also I was under Beelzebub’s fleet, may his soul rest.”
“May his soul rest.” Baal echoed, “Kuro was an amazing fighter and leader. He was the envy of the Alphas. He was strong, smart and able to get respect from just about anyone. Not to mention being able to bed anyone he wanted.” Baal explained, “He still does all those things, but he is broken. They conflict with his inability to control his temper, his unwillingness to let anyone get too close, and his dedication to finding Gehenna. It makes him a chaotic mess. Those who cling to him are clinging to what he used to be.”
“I have noticed. They are all very excited to see him, but I also noticed all of their conversations were about his fighting in the war or times before the war. I know the war devastated us all but I, you and everyone else have picked themselves up. He seems to have trouble moving on from the past.”
“I didn’t understand either, but Ai explained it to me. It is Fakir. I didn’t realize it before, but Kuro was and still is in love with him.”
“Really?” Lillith asked in disbelief.
“Think back to what you said last night. That you passed him in the halls a few times with Fakir. Think about it, of all the times you may have seen him, who was he with?”
“Oh, now that you mention it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without Fakir.” She thought back.
“Right, I never made the connection, but Kuro followed Fakir around like a lost puppy. Fakir knew Kuro well, anytime Kuro got heated and would start to mouth off, Fakir was there to calm him down. Kuro relied on him so that he could control his temper, but without him, Kuro is lost. For him the war isn’t over. No one saw Fakir or Lord Leviathan die, Kuro believes they are still alive and Gehenna is still out there somewhere.”
“That would be nice.” Lillith reached out and took Baal’s hand, trying to hide her sadness.
“After the war, we all had our ways of coping. Those like you, who had lived outside of Gehenna just readjusted into them and helped those who didn’t. But, we Alphas had never been outside of Gehenna. This world we only learned about through others telling us stories. I am the embodiment of pride, so I wouldn’t let myself fall. I quickly found a group and started to rebuild through them teaching me. Asmodues, being the embodiment of Lust, had their many, MANY, mates to fall back on. In all honesty, if Asmodeus can get sex, they are fine.” Baal chuckled for a moment, then quickly spoke again with sincerity. “Kuro… he is Wrath. He lost his home, a war he had fought so desperately to win, his father and the one he loved. It drove him mad, he completely lost it.”
“And now we have this Kuro?”
“We have what is left from his breakdown.” Baal corrected.
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t mention that I told you about it to anyone. He doesn’t want people to know, for good reason. His grief consumed him after the war and it came out in the form of uncontrollable rage. He demolished an island: any human, animal, or plant on the island was wiped away. He left nothing, but rocks.”
“Fuck…” She said, surprised trying to process how he was able to do that.
“Asmodeus, Ai,Kuro’s half brother Shiro, and I went looking for him and when we found him he was like a ravenous beast. He attacked us with no regard, it took all four of us to restrain him from killing any of us. Shiro got the worst of it, he tried to talk some sense into him, desperately tried to reach him. But it was like he couldn’t hear us. After a long bloody battle with him, we finally got him restrained in a demon’s circle.”
“Whoa… you used a demon circle on him?” Lillith gasped.
“We had no choice. There was no stopping him.” He sighed. “We had him in it for three weeks, and whenever any of us got close he lashed out like a wild animal. Snarling, growling, screaming and trying to claw his way out of his chains. Then Ai, losing Lord Leviathan and then seeing what her son had become, lost it as well. Broke down in tears, she cried in so much pain.” Baal fought tears remembering the sound that still haunts his ears.
“If this is too much, you don’t have to continue.” Lillith comforted him with a kiss on his lips.
“No, I am okay. It is better to talk about it. As long as you are okay with listening.” He stopped and held her in a comforting embrace.
“Of course, we are bonded. I am here for you in the happy times and the sad times.” She encouraged him to continue.
He nodded, “Her breakdown struck a chord with Kuro. Her cries were able to get through his madness. But it also sparked something in him as well. In three mighty yanks he broke the demon circle.”
“Holy shit! He broke a demon circle?!” Lillith’s mouth hung open.
“It shouldn’t be too surprising, the guy killed and ate the soul of god,.” He continued, “We thought he’d try to attack again but his face was different, like he was in pain. His eyes too, swelling up with tears. I have never seen such a thing before, his tears were black and as they fell to the ground sizzling like they were boiling hot hitting a cold surface. He gave a blood curdling scream that echoed across the Island and in a flash he was gone. He took off, despite our best efforts we couldn’t catch up with him. He disappeared for thirteen years, to which we thought the worst. Ai slipped into a depression, she placed a hold on her pregnancy, and didn’t speak a word for those thirteen years.”
“I remember seeing her a few times, she just looked so… hollow.” Lillith frowned thinking back to how she wished she could have done something to help her.
“Then one day he showed up at my door, acting as if nothing happened. No matter how much I tried to ask him about his absence in those thirteen years, he simply ignored my questions.” He sighed, “He looked as he does now, messy and wild. He just kept going on about needing to find Gehenna and how he knew it was still out there. At first I believed him and offered my assistance, but as time went on and this place began to grow and prosper, I had to put my time, energy and focus here. He doesn’t like it, every few months or so he shows up and we argue about it. Then he yells and storms off, refuses to talk to me for the rest of the night, he visits Ai and then disappears for a few more months.”
“What was the turning point for Ai? She is doing much better now.”
“Ai… well once he showed up, she ran into his arms and cried like a child. He took her to her room and they stayed there for hours. I could hear her sobbing and Kuro humming to comfort her. Eventually they emerged, and she erupted with conversation, she talked to him for two days. Only taking breaks to eat and sleep. Like thirteen years of conversations were being built up and she was letting them all out. Despite Kuro being the brute that he is, he adores his mother. He listened to every word, nodding, asking small questions, he kept encouraging her to continue their conversations. After that, she was back to her old self again, the happy kind helpful sweetheart we love. About a year ago, when Kuro showed up once again, she mentioned the dormant egg inside of her womb and that the baby is Lord Leviathan’s and Kuro said, ‘It’d be nice to have a little brother or sister’. The day after he left, Ai told me she was going to make the egg active and have the baby.” Baal explained.
“She really loves and cares for Kuro.” Lillith smiled,taking Baal’s hand and the two continued walking the path again.
“Despite his temper and a few other details, he has a LOT of Lord Leviathan in him. He looks a lot like him too. Kuro and Lord Leviathan’s relationship was different than usual father and son, they’d goof off and joke with each other like drinking buddies. They are so much alike in their personalities: The loyalty and dedication they have towards their people, the stubbornness to never give up or back down from a fight and the way they seem to attract others of our kind to them are all traits they share. Kuro even got Lord Leviathan’s black horns and long strong tail.” Baal followed close to her.
“Yeah, he and Lord Leviathan have always been good looking. That feeling of power they emit is breathtaking, it is difficult not to want them.” Lillith commented.
Baal responded with an annoyed growl.
Lillith shook her head playfully. “Relax, I don’t have any desire to be with Kuro. He is nice to look at but I couldn’t do his temper. He called my flowers weeds.” She grumbled out, obviously still sore about that comment he had made “What I can’t understand is why you like him so much.”
“How do you figure? He is annoying, a huge pain in the ass and every time he is around I have to play damage control!” Baal complained.
“Yet you try desperately to get him to stay every time he comes around. You keep track of the time he disappears for. And you don’t stop talking about him for days after he leaves.” Lillith chuckled. “Not to mention how jealous you get when he goes after someone else. Makes me wonder if you are jealous that I find him attractive because of our bond or because of the bond you want to have with him.”
“Is it that obvious?” Baal frowned.
Lillith nodded in response.
“I have always wondered if he knows too and chooses to just ignore it or if he is completely obvious.” Baal said.
Suddenly, a familiar voice would interrupt their conversation. “Hey, is Kuro with you?” It was Ai, rushing toward them with a look of unease in her eyes.
“No, we just dropped him off in Rainy Cove. Why is everything alright?” Baal asked, glancing at her stomach.
Ai glanced at her belly as well. “I am not in labor.” She quickly stated. “I said a few insensitive things this morning that upset him. I was worried that he…” She frowned.
“So that is why he was in a shitty mood. Worse than normal…” Baal smiled, “Don’t worry, he is still on the island. He isn’t going anywhere yet.”
“He seems to have taken quite a liking to Maow.” Lillith commented.
Ai’s face lit up and an excited smile spread across her face, “That is wonderful!”