Chapter 73:

Volume 3: Chapter 1: Preparation - fin

Nephalem


Azazel had yet to leave Saitama, even going so far as to buy a small apartment several blocks away from where Jacob was residing with his harem.

The thought made Azazel giggle. Who would have guessed that Jacob would become surrounded by a trio of beauties? Certainly not him.

The world works in strange ways.

His apartment was large and luxuriously furnished, but he had tried to make it at least seem modest. Several pieces of his favorite artwork hung from the walls. He used furniture that held a modern appeal. His living room, which considered of a western style couch-slash-coffee table combination, also contained a HD flat screen TV. He even had several of the latest consoles.

Humans come up with some fascinating entertainment.

It was Sunday. At the moment, Azazel sipped a glass of wine as he spoke to Matilda over the phone.

“So they leave tomorrow, then?” he asked.

“That’s right. They’re going on a field trip to Okinawa.”

“Okinawa, huh? I hear that’s a great place to visit this time of years.”

“So the brochures say.”

“You’ve never been to Okinawa, have you?”

“This is my first time leaving hell. Of course I haven’t.”

“Hmm… would you like me to take you some time?”

“I’ll pass.”

Flirting with Matilda was kind of fun, sort of like tempting a poisonous snake; her words were sharp and filled with venom.

Most people would have probably wondered about his sanity. A fallen angel flirting with a devil? Absurd. However, it had been a long time since Azazel had cared about things like race or species.

Some of his subordinates felt the same, though they tried to hide it.

Of course, he was still in the minority. Old hatreds didn’t die so easily, and the battle between the angels, devils, and fallen angels had been going on for thousands of years, long before Jesus Christ had died on the cross. He might have been suing for peace. However, there were so many others who didn’t.

Fortunately, Matilda, at least, was willing to speak with him on matters concerning Jacob.
It must be thanks to her liege.

“Thank you for informing me about this,” Azazel said. “That brat, Jacob, never tells me anything anymore. Sometimes he doesn’t even answer my calls.”

“Well, Jacob has been rather busy.”

Azazel grinned, though he knew Matilda couldn’t see it. “I’ll bet.”

“That was all I wished to inform you about.”

“I got it. Talk to you later. Speaking of later, perhaps sometime this week, you’d like to join me for a drink?”

“Go fuck yourself.”

The line went dead.

Azazel chuckled as he placed his cell phone on the coffee table and took another sip of his wine. Yes, teasing that woman was truly fun.

Before he could decide whether to play video games or watch the latest samurai drama, a knock sounded at his door. With a sigh, Azazel stood up, set his wine down, tightened the sash around his purple robes, and wandered to the door.

“Yes? Can I help you?” he asked as he opened the door.

A man stood in the doorway. Hair like gold haloed a head that was too beautiful to be human, and so girly that he would have mistaken this person for a man, were they not intimately familiar. He wasn’t wearing his normal white robes. Even so, the all white business suit fit his delicate frame to a tee.

“Michael?” Azazel greeted in surprise. “I had no realized you were still hanging around?”

Michael sighed. “I have not been hanging around. I just got back from the Vatican and came here because I have something important to speak with you about.”

The Vatican, huh?

That was the Catholic Church’s most fortified stronghold among the humans, if he was not mistaken. And Michael had been there? Now that was odd.

Angels no longer involved themselves in human affairs. Azazel didn’t know why this was since no one told him anything, but he’d inferred that something was happening in Heaven. He’d noticed the unrest happening in both Heaven and Hell—Hell, more so than Heaven. However, even the way Heaven had closed its gates were telling.

“Come on in,” Azazel said, opening the door further and gesturing for Michael to enter.
“Thank you.”

Michael entered the hallway and took off his shoes. It seemed he had studied up on Japanese culture. That was just another bit of evidence that something was wrong.
The Michael I knew would never notice the cultural niceties born of other religions.

“How is Gabriel doing?” asked Azazel.

Michael shrugged. “I wouldn’t know.”

Azazel didn’t know what Michael meant by that, but he guessed Gabriel had locked herself up in her room or something. She had always been an emotional one. He imagined she was feeling depressed about what happened between her and Jacob several weeks ago, though this was an awfully long time for someone to not get over something. Even Jacob had gotten over the fact that she had tried to kill him.

“Can I get you something to drink?” asked Azazel as they entered the living room.
“No, I’m fine. Thank you,” Michael said.

Azazel sat back down and picked up his glass of wine. “Help yourself. Why don’t you at least pop a squat?”

“I’d prefer to stand, thank you.”

'He still doesn’t trust me.'

That was to be expected, as he and Michael had not parted on the best of terms. Azazel had fallen after giving into his lust for a human woman. Michael, being the straightlaced angel that he was, had been the one to cast him out. It had been a messy affair.

“May I ask what the purpose of your visit is?” asked Azazel. “I assume it’s important if you came all this way to speak with me personally.”

“It is.” Michael studied his apartment for a few more seconds before turning to him. “I heard tell that the Nephalem is going to Okinawa on a school field trip.”

“News sure gets around fast,” Azazel said. “And? Is there something odd about a high school boy going on a field trip?”

Shaking his head, Michael said, “no, of course not. However, we’ve recently been informed that the Yamata no Orochi and Kumiho are in Okinawa. You are probably not aware of this, but several years ago, the Yamata no Orochi tricked us into attacking Kumiho’s village. He and his group surged in and wiped out both us and the village.”

“I actually do know about that,” Azazel said.

He knew because Jacob had been present at the time, having been traveling for several years already. Jacob had attempted to save as many people as he could during that time. It had actually been Jacob releasing his powers to protect a yōkai that had led Azazel to him.
Not that I’m willing to let Michael know about that.

“Yes, well, what you probably don’t know is that one of the Vatican’s most treasured possessions had been taken.” Michael took a deep breath. “The Shroud of Turin.”

Now that did get Azazel’s attention. The Shroud of Turin was an important artifact with great spiritual power and religious significance. It was said to have been the cloth that Jesus Christ had been wrapped in when he was buried.

“That… is a problem,” Azazel admitted. “The Yamata no Orochi can’t use the shroud, though, right?”

It was impossible for a deity or creature from one religion to use the artifacts of another religion. That was one of the basic and most fundamental laws about their world.

“I do not believe the Yamata no Orochi is the one who took it,” Michael said. “And either way, the mere loss of the Shroud of Turin is a significant blow to the Church. It is a symbol, and without symbols like that, the people will lose faith.”

All religions were powered by the faith of their followers—in other words, by the humans who worshiped them. The more believers a religion had, the more power the figures of that religion possessed.

Catholicism was still one of the most widely practiced religions, which gave them great power. At the same time, their religion was on the decline. Their powers grew weaker each day. If something wasn’t done soon, they might all fade into anonymity like the Mayan gods. That was actually the reason Azazel wanted to sue for peace. Survival.

'We can no longer afford infighting amongst ourselves.'

Sadly, until everyone else agreed with his view, peace would be nothing but a naive dream.

“And what would you like from me?” asked Azazel.

Michael would not have come all this way, told him such an important secret, and not wanted something from him. The mere fact that he was coming in person meant that whatever Michael wanted to ask meant that it was going to be a huge favor.

If it was something within Azazel’s power, then he’d do all he could to help. It was all for the sake of his dream.

“I have a favor that I would like to ask of you,” Michael said, face twisting as though he were troubled to be asking a fallen angel for help.

As Michael told him what the favor was, Azazel soon realized why Heaven’s greatest archangel had come in person.

'Yeah… this is gonna be trouble,' he thought to himself.

He hoped Jacob would be able to forgive him.

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Here is the end of chapter 1. I hope you all liked it. Please leave a vote, let me know what you think, and look forward to the next chapter. Thank you all for reading. Ja ne! (^-^)


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