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Title: Fashion Week (Mythklok, Chapter 5)
Author: tikistitch
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Uriah/Selatcia finally goes too far, and Charles is forced to do something stupid. No, REALLY stupid. Like, Nathan Explosion-level stupid. Yes, that stupid.
Warnings: Cursing. AU. Reference to het lovin'. OCs who have overstayed their welcome. Haute couture. Possible character death.
Notes: You want notes? YOU WANT NOTES? Plenty of ‘em after the jump.



This is a Metalocalypse AU that’s been eating my brain. [livejournal.com profile] tiktaalikroseae started calling it “Mythklok” so I’ll just steal that since I can’t think of a better title. Anyways, this is a chapter in which Stuff Happens. Part of the concept is that Charles is a Fallen angel who used to go by the name of Sariel. He doesn’t really care to talk about that whole “getting your ass kicked out of heaven” business any more, but recently he’s been getting some very unwelcome visits from a pretty horrible old acquaintance, an archangel named Uriah. Uriah now goes by the name of Selatcia. If you want to hear his side of things, and you picked up reading this mess somewhere in the middle, you might want to read this (Chapter 1). It’s pretty short, and that piece is sort of what tipped off this madness.

(These are the other bits, about a hunt (Chapter 2), a barbecue (Chapter 3) and a ski trip (Chapter 4) which concludes here.)

Anyway, Uriah/Selatcia evidently derives sexual satisfaction by torturing of people (well, I told you he was horrible). His favorite victim of late is poor Charles. Since Uriah also pretty high up in The Legion, the badass angel army, he’s threatened Charles with an unwelcome angelic visit if he says anything. This is a big secret, so of course now almost everyone knows. Nathan, for one, has gotten pretty peeved about it. Or maybe "peeved" isn’t the right word. Maybe better put, “bloody furious and ready to smash somebody in the face” would sum it up.

The other relevant bit of the equation is Skwisgaar’s extended family. Skwis’s dad is Wotan, who also happens to be a god, as well as the head of the Norse Pantheon. Wotan’s favorite activities include hunting, skiing, and bragging about Valhalla’s shiny new shinkansen system. Wotan is currently cohabiting with an annoying angel girl named Raziel. Raziel’s hobbies are human high fashion and stabbing things, not necessarily in that order. Raziel’s exact motivations in all of this are unclear, but she definitely counts Uriah as a Person Most Likely to Be Stabbed.

A note about angel Forms, in case I haven't been explicit enough about it so far. In this universe, angels have two Forms, True Form, which looks like a stereotype of an angel, with wings and the robes and stuff, and Court Form, which resembles a human being. Angels typically spend their day in Court Form. Practically speaking, wings are just a pain in the ass, as they tend to get in your soup, or knock over your knick knacks. But more, angels have come to regard showing ones True Form in polite company to be quite rude. Having your wings out generally means you're going to go kick somebody's ass. And this is simply Not Done.




FASHION WEEK

Nathan really wasn’t the kind to mull over things. There were plenty of other people in the world who were good for that. Like Dethklok’s manager, for instance. That guy, he couldn’t seem to stop mulling things over. It could get irritating sometimes. But, you know, being Dethklok, they probably needed a guy around who would think about stuff.

Nathan operated more by instinct. It had always served him fairly well. And right now, he was pissed off. It was late at night, and he was over in the wing of the Mordhaus where their manager’s office was located. He wasn’t entirely sure why he was over there, but, you know, there he was.

Ofdensen’s door was closed. But the light was on. Nathan could see the soft glow under the doorway. And he heard the voices inside, tense and hushed. Though he hadn’t seen anybody go in or out. That was weird. That was definitely weird. A lot of weird stuff had been happening around here lately. Some of it was pretty cool. This was not cool.

He’d seen this before. It had been going on for – what? – months now. It had pissed him off. And each time it happened, it seemed to piss him off more.

Especially last time. He’d see Ofdensen finally emerge from the office, and walk, supporting himself with a hand on the wall, like you do when you’re dead drunk and can’t really walk straight. Only, he wasn’t drunk. Nathan didn’t think so, anyway.

And then he’d noticed the red handprint on the wall.

He’d tried to talk with the manager about it, but kept hitting a brick wall. Guy could be a dick sometimes. So, then he’d talked to Skwisagaar’s dad about it. Wotan was like a king dude. So, he was pretty important. Maybe not as important as a rock star, but up there, you know? And also, he had a hot girlfriend. And Wotan said, you know, Nathan, sneaking around is kinda bullshit. Go get a look at this bastard. That’s what I’d do!

That sounded good. Nathan wasn’t really a talk about it kind of guy anyway. And he also wasn’t really a snoop around kind of guy.

So Nathan did what Nathan did. He pushed the fucking door open, wide. And stood there, glaring.

There was indeed a guy in the room with Ofdensen. He was big. Really fucking big. And looked cheery as all hell.

Nathan decided immediately his fist would look really good in the middle of the guy’s fat face.

“Well, and who have we here?” the cheery big dude said.

Yep, Nathan decided. Face meet fist.

“Who the fuck are you?” Nathan said.

“Nathan. Get out. Now.” It was Ofdensen. But Nathan and the big guy ignored him completely, their gazes locked.

“That is so rude, Sariel. Aren’t you going to introduce me to this delightful young man?”

“Who the fuck is this guy?” Nathan demanded.

The big man tutted. “How much have you told them, Sariel? Were you going to leave the poor things in ignorance of your … other activities?”

“Nathan-“

“I’ve been thinking. And I don’t think I like you,” Nathan said.

“You hurt my feelings. Maybe you just need to get to know me better.”

“Nope. Doubt it.”

“I would definitely like to become better acquainted.”

The big guy started to rise. And then abruptly stopped. Ofdensen had grabbed a sword from somewhere, maybe the wall, and he now held the blade at the big dude’s neck.

“Stay away from him. You sick motherfuck,” was what he said.

The big guy just smiled.

“Get out of my way you little bastard. And do not worry. You will get your turn.”

He started to move again.

Ofdensen’s sword erupted in flames.

Cool, thought Nathan. Flaming sword trick. The dudes at Valhalla were doing that last time. It looked real badass.

The big guy actually flinched. Just for a minute, the slightest edge of worry crossed his face. But then the smile crept back. He contracted the correct cheek muscles, and made the smile come back. “Well, look at that,” he said. “You have learned a new trick, have you not?”

But now Nathan was getting pissed off again. Why weren’t heads getting sliced off of necks? That’s what should happen now.

Just a bit weird.

But, it wasn’t really time for thinking. Nathan wasn’t really a thinking kind of guy.



Ofdensen was thinking. It was something about him. He couldn’t help himself. Ever since he was Created, his brain had clicked along, thinking. It took him places. And, too often, it got him into trouble.

“Nathan. Leave. NOW.”

Ofdensen wasn’t looking at Nathan though. He kept his eyes fixed on Uriah. Or Selatcia. Or whatever the fuck he was calling himself. It didn’t matter. It didn’t really matter anymore. Ofdensen had been thinking again, and had realized with some resignation that he most probably wouldn’t survive this night. And, he also realized that it was probably for the best. He was just so tired. He couldn’t have held out much longer anyway. He was kind of looking forward to it actually. Uriah would finally use him up. Finally break him. He would finally take him to the place he’d never gone before. And he would finally be free of the pain.

And Dethklok would have to fucking figure it out for themselves. And maybe they would. Or maybe they wouldn’t. It couldn’t be helped now.

He just had to get fucking Nathan out of the room. Fucking Nathan. Big fucking sonofabitch was too fucking stupid to live. If he lived, he decided, he would kill Nathan. Just for being stupid.

“We took a vote,” Nathan was saying. “We took a vote. We decided you need to leave. Now.” Ofdensen let his eyes flick back to the doorway, for just an instant.

All five of them were there. All five members of Dethklok.

Ofdensen decided he must be hallucinating. From the stress. This couldn’t be. He hadn’t heard them all come in. It took those dumb bastards hours just to assemble for a fucking band meeting. Despite himself, he was annoyed. How would Nathan-

Uriah started to laugh. Ofdensen could tell. He knew that sharp intake of breath. His laugh was horrible. Like just about everything else about him.

But then everything was dark. His office was dark. The window was dark. The whole world was dark. Like the light had suddenly been sucked away.

The only light was his sword.

And the soft glow. In the eyes. Of the band.

You could hear the storm gathering outside the window.

“What are you supposed to be?” Uriah was saying.

“We asked you to leave,” Nathan said. “If we have to ask again, we won’t be POLITE.”

Uriah said. “You are all abominations!”

Nathan stepped forward.

“I will be back,” Uriah told Ofdensen.

“I know. Please give my regards to Michael.”

And Uriah wasn’t sitting there anymore.

And the light was back.

Ofdensen let the sword fall from his hand. Fucking flaming sword. It had burned his hand. He slumped back, leaning hard on his desk.

The Dethklok members departed as quietly as they’d assembled. Except for Nathan.

“You gonna tell me who the fuck that guy is?” Nathan demanded.

Ofdensen rubbed his hand where he’d burned it. “Someone…. Someone I used to know.“ He shook his head. “Anyway. He’s dangerous.”

“So am I.”

“Nathan. You don’t understand.”

“No. You don’t understand. That guy? He’s not gonna fuck with us again. ANY of us.”

“It’s not just that guy. You don’t understand. Things have gotten … complicated.”

“No. You don’t tell us anything, and then you tell me I don’t understand? No. That’s not gonna work any more.”

"That man is more powerful than me. He is certainly more powerful than you guys. At least for now. Even if we managed to hurt him, he'd come back with more guys. And kill us all. And kill you. Do you understand that?"

"So what are we gonna do?"

"I don't fucking know. I don't know. I need more time?"

"How long you figuring on waiting? 'Til he turns you into a bloodstain on the carpet?" And with a last scowl, Nathan was gone too.

Ofdensen leaned over to pick up the sword he’d let drop. He realized only when he was about halfway down that there was no way he’d be able to get back up again, so he just let himself sit down on the floor, his back against the desk. He picked up the sword. It had burned a blade-shape into his carpet. He sighed. He’d have to get a new carpet. He reached back with his hand, the one that wasn’t burned from the sword, fumbled around and finally grabbed the whiskey decanter on his desk. He took a drink straight from the bottle.

Fucking Nathan. Why did he have to butt in? If Uriah hadn’t threatened him….

But Uriah had threatened him.

Uriah had threatened Nathan.

And then he had a thought.

And then he lunged for his phone.



Disco music throbbed. The models slouched down the runway, striding in time to the insistent beat.

A small immaculately dressed woman perched in the front row peering at each outfit with a furious intensity. She scribbled a raft of notes on an electronic pad. At the end, she stood up with everyone else and applauded. This designer was youngish and not terribly well known, but she’d shown some interesting pieces. It had been a good use of time.

Raziel was an angel. Like all angels, she was possessed of many foibles. Angels are bloodthirsty beings, and tend to be quarrelsome. One of the lesser angel foibles is a weakness for luxurious items. In Raziel's case, it manifested in an obsession with human haute couture. Fortunately, her current boyfriend happened to be a Norse god king, who was not only tolerant of this foible, but actually quite the rich bastard.

She hurried into the lobby, checking through her phone messages. She hit the first number on her speed dial. “Hey, sweetie. How is the hunting trip? Yeah? He did? Can’t you convince Shiva to ride a horse instead of that stupid bull? Well. Are the Kachinas enjoying themselves? Excellent. Well, I may have to skip out on Fashion Week for a bit. Yeah, I know, but You Know Who left a message and it sounds urgent. Yeah, probably angel crap. I know, I hate missing Galliano. What? Oh, yes, I know that whiskey. Of course, sweetie! I’ll grab some on the way back from Milan. Anything for My Lord. Yes. Me too. No, I love you more. See you soon. Bye.”

She hit the next number. She spoke now in a very soft, musical language. “Hey, it’s me. I got your message. Are you OK? Well, you don’t sound OK. Uh-huh. I’m in Milan, could you…? Eh, you know I hate coming to your place. No, no, I’ll do it. I will do it, just give me an hour, OK? Yeah, later, bye.” She frowned at the phone, but it didn’t give up its secrets.

She emerged outside the building. A raven flapped, and landed on her shoulder. “Hey, Huginn, guess we’re gonna ditch Fashion Week for a bit.” She handed him a bit of seed from her pocket. It was dark, and she was dressed, as was her custom, in dark clothing. She turned a corner, and disappeared into the night.



She still had her nose in her iPhone when she appeared in his office, sitting in the guest chair. She looked up and did a double take.

“What the hell happened?”

He motioned to her to stand.

He bowed to her formally. She frowned. “Last night,” he said, “my Venerated Brother Uriah, of the Seraphim, threatened Nathan Explosion, who, as you know, is a man under my protection.”

“Oh?” she said. And then, “Oh!” And then she smiled.

He pointed to a very substantial stack of papers sitting on his desk. She noticed that the top of his desk, which was usually immaculate, was currently stacked in papers and old books. Angel books.

“See?” he said. “These are the sections of the contract that state where I’m in charge of security.”

Raziel leaned forward and said, softly, “Wow! That’s a lot. You guys are really paranoid.”

“You have no idea.”

She shuffled through the papers. “You think they’ll accept human contracts?”

He sighed softly. “Don’t see as I have much choice right now.”

Raziel stood back and said, more formally, “Then, Uriah of the Seraphim has well and truly begun a Blood Feud with you, My Little Brother, Sariel.”

“Yes, I am afraid that Uriah of the Seraphim and I are now well and truly involved in a Blood Feud.”

“You are not of his rank, Little Brother.”

“No, sadly, I am not of his rank.”

Raziel presented a sheathed sword. She hadn’t been carrying it when she entered the room. She removed the sword from its sheath with a flourish, and then formally sat it down on his desk.

“I am of the same rank as Uriah of the Seraphim. I formally offer you to stand in your stead in this Blood Feud, in return for….” She paused. “In return for the good Scotch whiskey! You know that kind Wotan likes, with the little star on the label?”

“Yeah, I know.”

“I formally offer you my sword in return for single malt Scotch!”

“How much Scotch?”

“Two bottles is probably fine.”

“You can have as much as you like.”

“Eh. Two bottles is fine. Don’t want the Valkyries getting into it.”

“OK. Raziel of the Seraphim, my Venerated Sister….”

“Oh, don’t use Venerated, it sounds like I’m a million years old.”

“But you are a million years old! OK. OK, Raziel, my Honored Sister, I humbly accept your assistance in this Blood Feud.”

Raziel grabbed back the sword and grinned. “You think they’ll believe this?”

“No, but…. I was up all night going through everything that’s ever been written on Blood Feud. Maybe this will work. I’m sort of improvising here.”

“Did the bastard really threaten Nathan?” Ofdensen nodded, collapsing into his chair. “Motherfucker,” Raziel spat. “I’ll kill him, and then revive him so I can kill him again.” She feinted with the sword.

“Raziel. I know you think you can kill anything….”

“I can kill anything! Uriah will look infinitely more chic without that fat heat of his. Hey, what the fuck did you do to your hand?”

He regarded his burnt hand. “Nothing.”

“Wait, were you fucking around with a flaming sword? Is that how you burned the carpet?” She pointed with her sword to the mark on the rug.

“Maybe. It doesn’t matter.”

“Next time will you ask first? I mean, I make it look easy, but I make everything look easy.”

“OK. OK. I’ll ask first next time. Look….”

“Any idea where he is?”

“No. I can guess.”

“What’s your guess?”

“Arctic.”

She nodded. “I’ll head north.”

She turned, then paused.

“There’s going to be one fewer of us by nightfall.”

He nodded, sadly. “Raziel-“ he said.

But she was already gone.



Uriah stood alone on the Arctic tundra at the edge of a mountain range and waited for her to approach. He grinned as only a truly mad angel can grin.

It is no secret when Seraphim approach. In True Form, they are as tall as three story buildings. Each step is an earthquake. They were not designed for subtlety.

Uriah liked the Arctic regions. There was something clean and pure about it. Untouched by sin and disgrace. The cold was bracing.

He ruffled his wings. As all true Seraphim, Uriah had three sets of wings. Fully unfurled, they were proud and terrifying. He was vengeance, personified, and made manifest. He was the mighty hand of the Lord, and a sturdy member of the Legion, heaven’s mightiest army.

And, he really loved pounding the shit out of people.

He had departed his house early this morning. His human house. He had walked the dogs, and pecked Mrs. Selatcia on the cheek goodbye. She was the former Miss Monmouth County, New Jersey, and a most comely woman. She was grateful to him, as he always made sure her bruises were in a place that wouldn’t show the next day.

And then he had set off on an important errand.

He sensed Raziel coming closer. His grin extended as she finally came into sight. He resisted licking his lips. Torturing Sariel was always amusing and delicious, but that pathetic creature was, in the end, simply no match for his greatness. Raziel was of the Seraphim. Sad and degenerate, to be true, but a Seraph.

He would destroy her. And cleanse the earth. Long would they tell tales of this fortunate day.

She walked with a measured step, neither speeding nor slowing her pace as she drew within striking distance. She would cringe to hear it, as Raziel was a rare Seraph who hated her True Form, but even as a winged giant, she still resembled her smaller Court Form somewhat, with raven hair and dark eyes. She had clothed herself in dark garments. Uriah, on the other hand, had nearly albino coloring, and wore bright white robes, as if to emphasize the point.

("Matchy-matchy," Raziel trenchant thought regarding the ensemble.)

Uriah was so very pleased to see that he was larger than she.

Uriah had never fought a female Seraph before. He decided at once to show mercy, and kill her quickly.

Well, fairly quickly.

After he had had a bit of fun, perhaps. No one would begrudge him that.

She stood before him.

“Raziel of the Seraphim,” he greeted her. “Honored Sister. It has been a long time!”

“Uriah,” she said.

And he waited.

Finally, she sighed. “Uriah of the Seraphim My Venerated Brother,” she muttered, rolling her eyes as she did.

Snotty, he thought. Well, this one had always needed to be taken down a few pegs. The concept of a female Seraph in itself was freakish and ungodly. He would be doing Our Lord a favor in ridding the world of this abomination.

He began the speech he had spent all morning preparing. “I have long dreamed of this day. This day, I begin my great task. The task of clearing the universe of you traitorous trash.” He had greatly liked that last phrase, “traitorous trash.” It had a nice ring to it.

“You know, I had to miss Galliano for this,” she sighed.

He blinked. His grin faded slightly. “What is…? What is a galliano?”

“I don’t think you’ll need to worry about it,” she told him. “Anyway. I come in answer to My Little Brother Sariel’s Blood Feud.”

“Sariel’s what?”

“Sariel’s Blood Feud.”

“The rules of Blood Feud do not apply to that…. That freak anymore.”

“Hey, I’m not up on all the legal mumbo jumbo. Did you or did you not threaten Nathan Explosion?”

“Who?”

“One of the humans in his band?”

“They are not humans. They are abominations. Like him. Like you.”

“Sticks and stones. Did you….”

“After I have quite finished slicing you ribbons, I will go and complete the job on Sariel, and then I will extinguish those abominations. The world will thank me. This will be a good day. A proud day! For today is the day-“

“OK. OK. Sounds like a threat to me. Now hurry the fuck up, I gotta get back to Fashion Week.”

She drew back into her fighting stance. Three separate sets of wings unfurled. She said a few words, and her sword ignited into flames.

Uriah scowled mightily. OK. No speech, but the bitch would end up just as dead. He ignited his own sword. His expression changed back to a grin as he thought lustily of cutting into her sweet, sweet flesh with his flame-choked sword.



In the whole world, there was only an ashtray.

Ofdensen thought, I’ve sent an idiot to deal with an oaf.

And he thought many other things.

He sat on the floor of his bedroom, as he no longer had the energy to pull himself up on any kind of furniture. And the ash tray was there. But he didn’t seem to be able to smoke fast enough to keep any nicotine in his bloodstream.

If you had asked him an hour ago, he would have told you of his brilliant plan, a plan that actually threaded the needle, removing the Uriah threat, while sparing the rest of them.

In truth, it had just been a desperate gambit by someone who was too addled by pain and painkillers and just that pure fucking dread that had been hanging over him forever now to put together a single coherent thought. Raziel wanted a crack at Uriah, she had always hated him, and now he’d given her a chance. The very best possible scenario was that by some weird stroke of luck, they would both end up annihilating each other.

The more likely option, though, was that Uriah would kill her.

Or, not quite kill her.

And Raziel was quite strong. She could hold out for a long time under Uriah’s treatment.

He tried to force his mind to stop going down this road, but it was not cooperating. It was a fortunate thing Ofdensen had no conscience. As, angels did not have consciences. And this probably would have been a thing that would have troubled a conscience.

Raziel. She wore fucking ski goggles around as a fashion accessory. And he’d sent her to kill an Archangel? The fourth most powerful being in the universe after the Lord Himself?

He stubbed out a spent cigarette and fumbled for another.

And then when he’d had his fill of Raziel, Uriah would come back here.

Maybe he would bring the Legion. Maybe it would be quick. And merciful.

But he doubted it.

He was hoping Uriah would come to him first. And kill him first. Because the alternative…. If he had to watch….

He tried desperately to stop his mind.

And, this was only the first part of the plan. Even if by some crazy and improbable accident Raziel managed to best Uriah, he still needed to deal with Michael. Michael and the entire fucking Legion.

And then the cigarette fell from his shaking hand.

Something had happened.



Uriah swung at Raziel. He missed by a mile, but ended up knocking the entire top off a nearby foothill.

The duel was drifting towards the nearby mountain range. Raziel had to remind herself to watch her footing. Wotan often scolded her for choosing stylish swordsmanship over effective killing. It was a fault. But Raziel was greatly aggrieved. Uriah was such a tacky fighter. Completely lacking in style. He was bigger and stronger than she, so his strategy, such as it was, was just pounding away until he could land a killing blow.

Such an oaf.

And he had made it all worse by his constant nattering. Now, usually, Raziel greatly esteemed the witty conversation that might flow against an honorable opponent when one traded saber blows. Not for nothing was it termed rapier wit! But this one? It must have been the world’s most lugubrious banter. Some crazy ravings about various ridiculous (and anatomically improbable) punishments he wished to inflict upon her should he prevail in this match. Which, well, of course he wasn’t going to win. He was simply too lacking in panache.

“Have you ever even seen a female body before, you idiot?” she snapped after a particularly idiotic comment. “They don’t work that way!”

“And after I finish with you, you know what I shall do?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Jack off to your picture of Archangel Michael?” Was this what the Legion had come to? This guy was.... What was that word Nathan and the boys liked to use?

“After I finish with you, I think I shall go pay a visit to Valhalla.”

“What?” she sputtered. “STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY BOYFRIEND YOU DILDO!” She lunged at his ugly head. And caught air. But what’s worse, she slightly missed her footing. It wasn’t a bad mistake, but Uriah had been waiting for this. He got his sword up, up over her head, and started to rain down blows, using his superior size and strength to an advantage, pushing her back, now pounding her back along a box canyon.

Inevitably, they ran out of room, or rather, Raziel ran out of room, backed against a cliff face, and he was upon her. Raziel could smell his repugnant breath. His face was inches from hers. His sword was upon hers now, pressing down, pushing her back against the mountainside.

Uriah grinned.

And Raziel smiled too.

She muttered some words. They were not angelic words, they were words learned from a Nordic Lord of the Fire World. He had taught them to her during his last barbecue. The Nine Worlds had some great barbecue. It was one of the true delights of living among pagans.

Raziel said the words, and turned to flame.

Uriah’s grin melted away.

Her entire body, from the top of her head, out to the tips of her three sets of magnificent wings, was fiery, consumed. She wasn’t in flames. She was fire. Fire embodied. Made manifest.

Uriah felt the heat of a thousand suns suddenly upon him, searing him.

The pain was unimaginable. He was burned. He was blinded. Desperately, he tried to take a step back. But his posture was completely wrong. He had been leaning in for the kill. He flailed back, losing his footing.

And then he was on his knees. Slowly, she came back into focus as she powered down, as she returned from flaming Raziel to Seraph Raziel. She was standing above him, still grinning a fiery grin, her flaming sword run through his chest.

He had never felt this before. Never been overwhelmed like this. It was so beautiful. So very beautiful.

He opened his mouth to speak. He said, softly, “Spare me. My Lady Raziel.” And he looked up, tears in his eyes.

Raziel pulled her sword from his body.

She leaned over to whisper something in his ear. Three words.

Then she took off his head with one neat, stylish slice.



Dick Knubbler sat deep in the bowels of Mordhaus, inside their state of the art recording studio, listening to some playback. He frowned, his robot eyes casting from green to red. This was taking forever anyway, and now it was just going to take even longer.

“Murderface, baby,” he said over the intercom. The bassist glared at him. “I think you may have to re-record that bass line, yeah. I’m getting some weird feedback on the take, baby, yeah.”

“There better at leascht be a blow job in this for me when I ‘m finisched!” the bassist whined irritably.

Knubbler sighed deeply.



A universe away, Archangel Michael, the mighty Seraph who was head of the Legion, had been yelling at some incompetent Cherubim who did filing for him.

He froze.

“What was that? What was that?”

The terrified Cherubim shook their heads.

“Find out what that was. Find out. NOW!”

His file clerks scattered.



The All-Father was watering his horse, the eight-legged Sleipnir.

Some members of his hunting party were pointing to the horizon. Up towards True North. It looked like northern lights. And yet, it didn’t.

Wotan was surprised to feel Huginn come to rest on his shoulder. He fed the raven a scrap. He listened.

“Thank you for the tidings old friend. And kindly remind her to pick up a bottle or two of that Scotch I like on the way home? If she’s not too busy with angel business.”



He smelled her before he saw her.

She didn’t use the door. One moment she wasn’t there, and then next she was. Sitting on the edge of his bed, up above him.

A tin box dropped in his lap.

He jerked, too flustered to catch it. “What is it?” he asked, his fingers fumbling the clasp.

“What’s left of Uriah.”

The box opened.

Ashes.

“Maybe you can have it made into a colorful scented candle or something,” she said. She hopped down off the bed and stuck her hands out, pulling him to his feet. He was unsteady trying to stand, so she spent a minute making sure he had his balance before she released him and brought out the object.

“I have answered in your stead in this Blood Feud Sariel My Brother I now present this sword to you as victor I ask only for single malt Scotch that you have promised blah blah blah,” she muttered hurriedly.

He saw in his hands the horribly melted remains of what may have been a sword. “What the fuck?” he muttered.

She motioned to him. Oh. He searched his mind for the words.

“I accept…” she urged.

“I accept this, uh, sword of my defeated opponent. I grant you the Scotch whiskey I have promised Raziel Honored Sister. I, uh…. I declare this the, uh, end of our Blood Feud.” He looked up at her, still stunned. “You…. You smell like a barbecue,”

“Ah, yeah, shit,” she pulled down a lock of hair and sniffed at it. She checked her oversized wristwatch. “Fuck. I gotta shower and get cleaned up if I still have any prayer of making Dolce and Gabbana at 7.”

“Raziel...” he started. He clutched the sword.

“Hey, you know what you could do for me now? You have the whiskey?”

“Whiskey?”

“The Scotch? Do you have any on hand? Here? Not sure I’ll have time to buy some on the way home.”

“Go ahead. Take as much as you like. Take…. Take anything.”

“Thanks. You’re a lifesaver. Just a couple bottles. Don’t want the Valkyries getting into that stuff.” And she marched across the room and was not there anymore.

And he was left alone holding a melted sword.



Nathan looked up. It was Skwisgaar’s stepmom.

She hadn’t been in the room a minute ago. And now she was there.

Shit like that kept happening these days. It was weird. Kind of cool, though. This was definitely a cool weird thing. Chicks who appeared out of nowhere. That definitely had possibilities.

She carried a couple of bottles of Scotch. And, a big fucking sword. And he was pretty sure her hair was smoking.

Yeah, this was definitely kind of cool.

“Hey, Raz, is that the good Scotch?”

“Hey Nathan”

“Is that the good Scotch?”

“Yeah. Wotan likes it.”

“It’s good stuff. Is that a sword?”

“Yes, that would be a sword. It’s this year’s hottest fashion accessory. All of the cool kids have swords. Where is yours?”

He looked at her for a long moment. “You’re fucking with me, aren’t you?”

“Yes. Yes, I’m fucking with you. And, before you say anything more, yes, I am aware that my hair is on fire.”

“Oh, I wasn’t gonna say anything. I thought it was maybe fashion or some shit. Like the freaky ski goggles.”

“The ski goggles weren’t freaky! They were a witty accoutrement! Anyway, do you know where Skwisgaar is? I need to get my raven. I told Huginn to come back here. I didn’t wanna show up in his room in case…. You know….”

“SKWISGAAR! WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU? YOUR STEPMOM WANTS YOU!”

“I could have done that! Oh, whatever…”

Skwisgaar was there, a raven on each shoulder, Pickles trailing after him.

“Hey, Raz,” Skwisgaar muttered.

“Hey, are you taking all da good Scotch?” Pickles asked.

“I earned this fucking Scotch.”

“How did you earn da Scotch?”

“I killed the creepy guy.”

Nathan gawped. He had to ask. “Did you stab him with the sword?”

“Yes, I killed him with this sword.”

“You’re fucking with us,” Nathan protested.

“Actually, no, I am not fucking with you. Ask your Charles.”

“You stabbed the dude with a sword and got paid in whiskey?”

“Yes.”

“Skwisgaar! Your stepmom is awesome!”

Skwisgaar looked annoyed. “Ech,” he said.

“Huginn!” The raven flapped lazily to her shoulder, and she juggled the sword and whiskey bottles. “Um, you know what he told me, your Charles?” They all shook their heads. “He really, really wanted to go out and celebrate. You know, about the creepy guy. But, I have this thing I need to go to. So, I couldn’t go with him.”

“Oh, dat’s too bad,” Pickles mused.

“Hey,” Nathan said. “You know what we should do? We should all go out and get FUCKING DRUNK. That’s a good idea, Raz-“ but she was already gone.

“Eh, weird chick. C’mon!” Nathan demanded.

They found him sitting on the end of his bed, holding onto a sort of ugly, melty piece of metal.

“How did you get in?” he asked, more abstracted than angry. “My door was locked.”

“NOTHING IS DETHKLOK-PROOF,” Nathan declared.

“Oh,” Ofdensen said.

Nathan sensed this was going to take his awesome powers of persuasion, so he seized their manager by the back of his collar and hauled him up. “C’mon. We’re gonna find some booze.”

“I t’ink he needs some coke,” Pickles mused.

“Yeah, good idea. Booze and coke.”

“And somes strippers?” Skwisgaar inquired.

“Awesome. Yeah, let’s get booze and coke and strippers.”



He took Raziel’s metal box out of his pocket and looked at it again, turning it over in his hands. He wasn’t entirely certain where he was. He thought it may have been the third of fourth place Nathan and the guys had taken him to. He seemed to recall passing out at maybe one or two points before that, and then somebody – probably Pickles – had force-fed him something to wake him up again.

But it had been like he was outside his body, watching himself, all night. Not just all night: maybe for days or weeks or even months now. But then all of a sudden he was sitting in the dim light of some horrible sleazy strip club where all the drinks were watered down and the dancers looked like STD pits, and his soul suddenly chose that exact moment to come down from wherever the fuck it had been and crash back into his body again and he realized with a start that the box of ashes he was holding in his hands was the Archangel Uriah, and he was dead.

And he had also realized that he really needed to throw up. Which was odd, because he couldn’t really remember having eaten anything for a while. And as he bent over the curb, retching things that couldn’t possibly be in his stomach, as he’d been living on cigarettes and painkillers for weeks or months now, he reflected that his body was a pretty fucking wretched place to be right now, painful and muzzy-headed and malnourished, and what he really needed was to find a dark place where fashionista angels couldn’t pop up and his band couldn’t break the locks and he could just crawl in and sleep for six months.

But of course then Nathan was there yanking him by the collar again. Nathan fumbled into Ofdensen’s jacket pocket to hand him his own handkerchief, so he could wipe his mouth off.

“Need cigarette,” he managed to mutter.

“You don’t need a cigarette you smoke too fucking much why do you think you’re getting SICK?” Nathan demanded.

“I got some pot,” Pickles offered, coming out to the curbside to stand with them.

“Oh, yeah, pot would be OK. SKWISGAAR?” And the Swede was there at the curbside too, in the company of two attractive ladies who may have been strippers or may have been prostitutes or may have been groupies or may have just been two random ladies minding their own business on the street.

They all crawled or stumbled or slid into the waiting limo. Skwisgaar entertained his new friends at one end. Ofdensen managed to inhale a couple of puffs of whatever Pickles was currently smoking, and then collapsed to the floor, either asleep or unconscious or in some kind of drug haze or perhaps some combination of the three. Nathan made sure he was rolled on his stomach so he wouldn’t choke in case he retched again. And then Nathan and Pickles companionably rested their feet on him while they talked.

“So, dat creepy guy is dead?” Pickles asked, taking a long drag from his monster joint.

“Yeah. Cool, huh?”

“Yeah, he was a douche. So, everyt’ing’s cool?”

“Huh. No, I don’t think so,” said Nathan, grabbing the smoke.

“Why not?”

“The king dude, Wotan, said some stuff. I guess there’s this whole army of people like him,” and here he poked Ofdensen with his boot, “and Raz, and they’re kinda badass.”

“Huh.” And then Pickles laughed.

“What?”

“Dat would be funny, a whole army a’ angel chicks. ‘Cause, den we could make ‘em break a fingernail. And, den dey wouldn’t be able to fight!”

“Ha! Yeah! That would be awesome!”

“Of course, if dey was all cute chicks, den we wouldn’t wanna fight ‘em.”

“Oh. Yeah. That would be bad. But I think Raz said there weren’t a lot of chicks in their army anyway.” And both Nathan and Pickles sighed, imagining the angel chick army.

“Hey, did he say something?” Pickles asked, leaning down towards their semiconscious manager.

Nathan cocked an ear. “Nah, I don’t think so. Just keep him on his stomach so he doesn’t go Hendrix on us. HEY SKWISGAAR CAN YOU KEEP IT DOWN OVER THERE WE’RE HAVING A MANLY CONVERSATION!”

“Eh. Sorries,” said the Swede through his giggling, mostly naked companions.

“Dude. I t’ink he said somethin’ about Marlboros,” Pickles said. Nathan leaned over again, and then yanked Ofdensen into the seat next to him.

“You guys have…. Cigarettes?”

“You don’t want dat crap. Have weed, it’s natural!”

Ofdensen took a puff, as it was better than breathing oxygen. “I need…. Talk to my boss.”

“Your what?” Nathan asked. “WE’RE YOUR BOSSES!”

“No. No. Michael. Old boss.”

“Oh. Was he a douche?”

“Yeah. Yeah, pretty much. A douche.”

“Was everyone you used to know a douche?”

“Yeah. Yeah, Nathan. They were all douches.”

“Well, then it’s lucky you met us. We’re great bosses!”

“Yeah. Yeah. That’s just what I was thinking. I need to…. I need to get back…. I need to talk to this guy. So he doesn’t….”

“You can’t talk to the douchebag now. You’re TOTALLY FUCKED UP ON DRUGS.”

Ofdensen was taking another drag of the joint. “I am not. I am completely cuboidal.”

“Dude sounds fine t’ me,” Pickles offered. “So, dat guy, dat dead guy?”

“You knew that guy? Before?” Nathan asked.

“Yeah.”

“But, you weren’t friends?”

“Not…. Not exactly. We were.... He an I.... It didn’t…. It didn’t end well.”

“Ah! Da epic bad breakup!” Pickles puffed.

“Huh?” said Nathan.

“Yeah,” sighed Ofdensen, rubbing his eyes. “Epic, epic bad panjandrum. Uh, breakup.” He frowned and snatched the joint away from Pickles.

“What?” said Nathan. His mind worked. “Oh!” He looked briefly horrified. He pulled the joint from Ofdensen. He took a very long drag. Then he started to smile. “But, then you got Skwisgaar’s stepmom to stab him!”

“Dat was pretty cool!” Pickles agreed.

“That was AWESOME.”

“We should stab more people!” Pickles suggested.

“We should totally stab a lot of people!”

“We’re not gonna…. We’re not gonna stab a lot of people,” Ofdensen scolded.

“Oh?” Nathan asked, disappointed.

“Only…. Only people who need stabbing.”

Nathan and Pickles grinned. Yes, this definitely had possibilities.

"Anyway, I can't formaldehyde - uh, emphasize how much I need to get back. Now. That guy we killed was really important. And I need to talk to Michael so they don't send more guys after us."

"OK," said Nathan.

"OK?"

"Sure. After we hit just a couple MORE PLACES."

"Nathan-"

"You're still conscious! You NEED MORE BOOZE!"

But there was a commotion at the other end of the limo. "SKWISGAAR-" Nathan started to scream, but he was stunned to silence, and the three men stared, fascinated, for a long moment.

"Whoa," Pickles finally said.

"I didn't think it was possible to actually do that," Nathan whispered.

"Uh," said Ofdensen. "I think I might, uh, need that drink. After all."



He hated Negative Space.

It was just so…. Empty.

But Michael had insisted on it as neutral ground.

He was a little fuzzy about the exact date. Which was weird for him. But he had been a bit abstracted lately. And then 3/5 of Dethklok had dragged him on a drinking binge, which always tended to warp his sense of time. And he wasn’t exactly certain if he was asleep or unconscious or in a drug haze or some combination when they’d finally dragged his body back to Mordhaus. And then evidently somebody had given somebody else an order to just leave him alone until he woke up. Which was abetted by the fact that apparently someone had managed to locate every single one of his purposefully hidden and redundant alarm clocks and tossed them one by one out the window.

But then he had at last woken up, and there was the summons from Michael. As he knew there would be. Which meant now in addition to being peevish over losing an Archangel, Michael would be miffed that he had to wait for Ofdensen to sleep off a drinking binge.

Which, actually, was sort of cool.

After hanging out for a bit in Negative Space and getting bored (it sort of looked like your TV when it was set between channels), he’d used a little magic to make himself a comfortable overstuffed chair to sit in. And, with the chair created, it seemed like a roaring fire was needed. He tended to be detail-oriented, so he completed the entire hearth.

Next, of course, he also added a nice rug and a coffee table. He wasn’t quite sure where the idea for the sleeping hunting dog had come from. Perhaps he had been spending too much time of late in Valhalla? But he had just finished it when Michael arrived.

He was glad, then, that he hadn’t actually had time to create a stuffed moose head to stick on his imaginary wall. He thought it would have sent entirely the wrong message.

“Michael,” he said, not rising. After all, the chair was imaginary, so it could hardly be impolite to remain sitting in it. “Have a seat?” he gestured. He’d made a metal folding chair for Michael to sit in. Now, that - that was probably impolite. He wondered if he wasn’t still sort of high on one of the many chemicals Pickles may have given him. He decided that he really didn’t much care.

“I’ll stand, thanks,” Michael growled.

“Suit yourself.”

“Sariel. You obviously don’t have any idea – any idea – how much trouble you’ve created.”

“Actually, I think I have a pretty good sense of that.”

“We have lost a Cardinal – a Cardinal – Archangel. The universe may be at risk.”

“Uriah was insane. I might think we actually did you a favor.”

“I warn you, boy. You can deal with me. Or you can deal with my Legion. My Legion. The choice is yours.”

“Well, as to your mighty Legion, Raziel just brought down one of your Cardinals between her runway shows.”

“That one learned a party trick.”

Ofdensen squinted at him. Wow, won’t even say her name any more, he thought. She wasn’t exaggerating about being out of favor. What he said was, “Uh. Yeah. I didn’t think party tricks were supposed to reduce an Arch to this.” He tossed the metal box full of Uriah’s ashes at Michael.

Michael was turning red, furious. He shook the box. “He was of the Legion. How dare you be so disrespectful? How dare you!”

“I don’t think rattling him around like that is particularly respectful.”

Michael hurled the box back at Ofdensen, who caught it easily in one hand.

“This isn’t any of your affair anyway, Michael,” he said. “Uriah very clearly started a Blood Feud. And I simply had Raziel stand in my stead. We did everything by the rules. Your rules.”

“Stuff and nonsense. The rules of Blood Feud don’t apply to the Fallen!”

“Well, actually, I’ve studied the rules of Blood Feud pretty thoroughly, and they do.”

“What?”

“I have access to an extensive library. I don’t wanna brag, but I think it might be the most extensive library in this part of the universe. The rules of Blood Feud are pretty clear, there’s absolutely no exemption for the Fallen.”

“I can’t be expected to believe a word that falls from your tainted lips. Not a word.”

“Then don’t believe me. Get off your ass and look for yourself. Or browbeat your idiot Cherubs into doing it for you.”

Michael just glared. Ofdensen knew enough from watching opposing council in court, this guy had nothing.

“There’s a human legal concept called a precedent,” he told Michael. “I know - any you know - it would serve as a poor precedent if you tried to mix up the Legion in a Blood Feud. We established those laws – you established those laws – strictly to prevent the bloodshed. You try and pull something with me, you’ll be forever known as the angel who reignited all the wars in Heaven.”

"You can't threaten me," Michael puffed.

"That's interesting. 'Cause I’m pretty sure I just did."

Michael glared, but didn’t say anything for a while. “What did you do with his soul?” he finally demanded.

“Huh?”

“Where are you holding Uriah’s soul? His soul!”

Well, that was weird. “You can’t keep track of a soul anymore? How the fuck should I know? Maybe there was a back up in Hell this week. Why don’t you go ream out the fucking Morningstar instead of me?”

He had seen Michael feign anger many a time, but he couldn’t recall actually seeing him quite this angry. “You’re using your pagan magic to keep his soul a captive!” the archangel said.

“My pagan magic?” Interesting, he thought.

“She did not defeat a Cardinal with angelic magic alone. This we know!”

“Shit. Michael. As I’m sure you guys know very well by now, since all you ever fucking do is gossip, Raziel is dating Wotan. She’s picked up some of their sword fighting techniques. You know she’s obsessed with pointy objects.”

“We know she has now abased herself with that … medieval heathen,” Michael spat

“Medieval? You do realize they have a bullet train system in Valhalla now?”

“I will speak no longer of her! That one continues to bring shame upon the Host. Great shame! Is there a male being left in this universe who hasn’t enjoyed himself between her legs?”

Michael shivered involuntarily. It seemed the room temperature had taken a drop. Even though it wasn’t really a room. In fact, Michael noticed, Sariel’s illusory room was suddenly gone. And now Sariel stood before him. In his True Form.

It’s a bit difficult to explain to mortals precisely how offensive it is among angels to flash ones wings in polite company. Wings are simply something one does not manifest until such point as they are needed, as in combat, or when trying to terrify and overawe superstitious natives. And Angels, especially the high ranking ones, don’t care to see themselves as the malicious brutes which is, quite frankly, more often than not their true purpose.

Unlike a Seraph, Sariel wasn’t overmuch larger in his True Form than his Court Form, and certainly did not set off earthquakes with his steps. He looked much like the human form he had chosen, only with grey hair and eyes and of course soft grey wings. He wore an expression, as he always seemed to when in this form, quite like he was readying himself to stab someone straight through the heart.

Michael strove not to appear flustered. He’d always loathed this one’s rude stare. There was something about those direct grey eyes. He found it distinctly unsettling.

“Put away your wings,” Michael scolded. “Put away your wings, you wretched creature.”

“I’m Fallen. You don’t want your rules to apply to me? OK. Get used to it.”

“Do not disrespect me, boy. You underestimate my wrath!”

“Michael. You come against me or any of my people ever again; you won’t just be missing an Archangel. I’ll burn heaven down. Try and fucking stop me.”

And he ruffled his wings.

And he was gone.



Wotan was back home again in Valhalla, and he was wallowing in newspapers. He had at least six Sunday papers from all over the world spread out all over the kitchen table. The kitchen door swung open and one of the wolves pattered in, sniffing around Wotan’s legs. “Are you home, my darling angel?” he asked, glancing up from his Dagens Nyheter.

Raziel gazed fondly at her boyfriend, the god king. They did not kiss, nor touch, as, even though none were watching, it was not appropriate behavior at the Court. There would be time enough for that later. In private.

“How was the hunt, My Lord?” she asked, trying not to trip over the terribly spoiled wolf, her arms laden with boxes and bags.

“Most successful! Despite Shiva parading around on that damn bull of his. But I understand you have had an interesting time of it?”

She unloaded some bags onto the table, atop Wotan’s Yoimuri Shimbun. “Oh, I had a time of it talking myself into the Dolce and Gabbana show! Fire demons are NOTHING compared to D&G. But I picked up some amazing new outfits.”

“I’ve heard you’re keeping our porters busy.” He grinned. “You wouldn’t have happened to have picked up any…. There were these silky things you purchased up last time…. The stockings that came up so high?”

She grinned. “I thought you told me you had a very firm rule that women in your bedchamber should dispense with all clothing?”

“I am a modern man! One must adapt to changing times!”

“Well, I just may have acquired some of that particular garment. And maybe some other items that will be of interest.” Wotan grinned with not a small amount of lust. That was the really lovely thing about spending time apart, he reflected, the whole coming back together.

“Goddammit!” his lovely angel suddenly exclaimed.

“What is the matter, my pet?”

“I broke a nail. Must’ve cracked during the duel. Fucking Uriah. Fucking guy! Oh, and I remembered your Scotch!” She placed a couple of bottles on the table on top of his New York Times.

“Splendid!”

“They are courtesy our great friend, Sariel.”

“Oh, excellent, you must thank him.” Wotan regarded the whiskey with a look of mild ecstasy.

“Hmpf! Are you happier about seeing me or the liquor, My Lord?”

“You of course, my little raven. But this is single malt!”

She laughed.

“And…. I brought the other thing.” With a look of distaste, she carefully placed a box upon the table, smack in the middle of the Times of London. It was approximately the size of an old-fashioned hat box.

“Ah!” said Wotan, pulling the box across the table towards himself.

“Do you have the…. The chemicals, or whatever it is you use?”

“Yes, yes, I am prepared. I have the herbs at the ready.” He noticed Raziel was looking distinctly – what was the human term? – grossed out. So he said, “I’ll say this to you, my Lady. Why don’t I go off and prepare this, and you search through your purchases for some of those lovely stockings? And whatever else might strike your fancy. And then we will meet again? Perhaps on the hour?”

“That would be most agreeable,” she said, nodding, and looking distinctly relieved. She left the kitchen with a wink, and he was left regarding the box. He picked it up. Well, he mused, not the most pleasant of tasks, but soon he could look forward to being in the arms of his fair angel.

He took the box and departed the kitchen, wolf padding at his heels.
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