Prologue: The Worst Day of my Life

I was 10 years old when my parents were killed, along with most of the people I had learned to call family over the course of those 10 years.

…Wow, that started off heavier than I intended. Maybe I should try again.

Hey did you know that when I was 10 my entire family was slaughtered?

Nah, the false cheerfulness doesn't really paint a picture of sanity.

Maybe try morose?

When I was 10 years old every person I cared about, every person I knew, was taken from me.

…ugh, way too pathetic for my liking.

Forget it, there's no good way to accurately convey the fact that your entire bloodline and the people who raised you are now 6 feet under.

So yah, 10 years old and now an orphan. Except the world apparently hadn't had enough fun at my expense and then booted me to the roughest city in the Underworld.

Sounds like a real party, doesn't it?

Oh, I forgot a rather important detail. My name is Caine Valefor, 2nd son of the Valefor family of the 72 pillars of the Underworld. My mother's name was Clarissa Valefor and was hailed as one of the strongest Devil's in the Underworld, not far behind the power of the 4 original Satans and easily a top-tier Ultimate class Devil. My biological father was Hayden Geir, a warrior from the Norse who had heard of my mom's strength and tracked her down, wanting to test himself against strong people.

While he never had the chance to tell me all of the details, I think I can accurately piece together what transpired between them.

Mom probably kicked his ass so hard that her foot was permanently smelling of his farts and he promptly fell head over heels for her. He had a thing for strong women, and often told me that he never would have married a woman if she wasn't stronger than him.

A real goofball of a guy, and a great guy to have as a dad.

My 2nd dad, even if he didn't contribute any of his genes, was Philip Magnuson, a talented Magician who served as the polar opposite to Hayden. A quiet and intelligent man as opposed to Hayden's headstrong and boisterous nature, he won mom's heart through his dogged determination to improve the Valefor's Magic techniques that had been passed down through the ages.

Therefore proving that girls do have kind of a thing for nerds. Take that society.

Perhaps most importantly though, Philip gave me my older brother, Jonah.

Much like our dads, Jonah and I were pretty diametrically opposed. Although we were never as extreme as our dads in our differences, I wouldn't consider it an exaggeration to say that we had little in common with regards to our personalities and skill sets.

…I could go on forever, listing all of the little quirks we had, the names of all the servants, the time Jonah and I stole Hayden's thunder axe and blew up a tree with it (sort of, but not really, by accident).

But then we'd be here for days, and the details of other people's lives are best given in small doses, not in one giant heaping pile.

Why don't we start at the beginning?


A little closer…just a liiiiitle closer…

Perfect! A predatory grin crawls onto my face as I drop the shadows that were mostly concealing my body from view and drop down towards my target. This time I don't shout in surprise as I hurtle downwards, and instead silently streak towards my target.

Almost there…

…And then my momentum is rather abruptly arrested as a meaty hand grabs me out the air and swings me around onto the owner of the hand's shoulders.

I scowl and shout, "Dangit Dad how do you sense me every time?!"

Hayden let's loose a booming laugh, his massive and ridiculously muscled frame moving in synergy with his movement and smugly replies, "Because, you little squirt, you're only about 20 years too early trying to take on your old man! Bulk up a little and you might stand a chance! Hah!"

I simultaneously frown and grin as I lean forward and rest my chin on my Dad's head, surveying everything around me from my vantage point. Having a 7 foot tall monster as my Dad is awesome for piggybacks.

"How have you been Caine? Is Jonah off studying?"

I smile and look to my right where Philip is walking side by side with Hayden, his usual small smile adorning his face.

"Yup!", I cheerfully reply, "I wanted to train with him earlier today but he told me to get lost since he was in the middle of some sort of test or something. More power to him and everything, but I wish he would practice with me more often!"

Dad chuckles and gives Philip a hearty slap on the back, knocking him forward a good meter or so and happily states, "My boy has a point Brother, Jonah is never going to get that far in life if all he does is study! A mix of muscle and brain is the way to go! On that note…"

He cranes his head back and meets my eyes.

"How are your studies coming along you little scamp?"

I sheepishly smile and reply, "Well…I'm not as good as Jonah, but I'm still passing everything?"

"Why did that sound more like a question than a statement of fact?"

"Because I'm sort of barely passing?"

Dad narrows his eyes and growls out, "Caine…"

I defensively look away and say, "Hey cut me some slack Dad! I'm doing all the same lessons that Jonah did and he's scary smart! I think the fact that I'm passing at all is pretty darn impressive!"

He gives me a stern gaze and authoritatively says, "While I admire your drive to beat your older brother, if it comes at the detriment of your education me and your mother are going to have a little chat with you."

I audibly gulp and simply reply, "Got it Dad."

Philip chuckles, the traitor, and we continue on our way through the mansion to Mom's office. The Valefor family mansion is a pretty big place with a couple dozen servants (not that any of us really think of them that way, more like close acquaintances) and other hired help hanging around the place, and Mom's office rests at the heart of the whole thing.

"So how was the hunt for the Stray Devil? I bet you 2 didn't even break a sweat!"

Dad gives me a victorious grin and replies, "Ha! The 2 of us could have taken on 10 times as many Strays and not broken a sweat!"

Philip gives a more modest smile and merely says, "The Stray had merely been a newly created Pawn before it went feral, it wasn't much trouble."

Dad's enthusiasm is infectious and I excitedly say, "Oh man I can't wait until I get to actually hunt down some Strays…when do you think I'll be ready to go on a hunt of my own?"

Philip gives me a level stare and clearly states, "Not until you're ready Caine. While I admire your courage, taking on a Stray Devil is a serious matter. Personally I wouldn't let you on your first hunt until you're 18, although…"

He shoots Dad a look of amused exasperation.

"I imagine my dear Brother has an idea or 2 of his own on how ready you are."

I shoot Dad a hopeful glance but to my disappointment he turns thoughtful and murmurs, "Hmm…tell you what squirt, last a whole minute against me during one of our sparring sessions, and I'll let you start tagging along with me."

My eyes widen and I practically shout, "A whole minute?! I can only last like 7 seconds-"

He cuts me off with a withering glare and speaks in a tone that leaves no room for argument.

"That's not up for debate Caine. 1 minute and no less."

I huff but acquiesce to his terms. Arguing with Dad is a lost cause once he makes up his mind on something. He said 1 minute and not even a Dragon is gonna convince him otherwise.

A few minutes later we arrive at the front door to Mom's office…only to hear a raised voice in the background.

"…the Crocell family has had enough of dealing with your petty thieves and traffickers that bring their contraband through our territory! If you cannot keep your dogs on a sufficiently short leash, then we'll have no choice but to put them down!"

I see Dad and Philip immediately scowl and move with purpose towards the door, clearly not pleased at the tone of voice the other guy is using. Not that I blame them though.

That voice belongs to Gyer Crocell, or as Mom calls him when she thinks I'm not listening, 'That Old Satan faction loving Motherfucker'.

My main reason to dislike him, aside from his overly dramatic shouting, is because everytime he visits Mom becomes subdued and distracted, not her usual confident and happy self.

Personally I'm hoping that one day Dad will lose his cool and just pulverize the pompous jerkass.

I perk up and hear Mom easily reply, "While you seem to be operating under the assumption that the Valefor family is in the business of employing those who break our laws, I can readily assure you that we do no such thing. And even if we did, without proof you only have baseless accusations and wild conjecture. None of which hold much weight Mr. Crocell."

"The proof is coming Bitch, and when it does I hope you don't mind getting on all fours like the mutt you are and-"

His words are cut off as Dad lets loose a growl like that of an angered wolf and quite literally rips the door open, it's hinges now hanging at angles they weren't really designed to hang at. The Old Satan Faction loving Motherfucker gives a small yelp of surprise and wildly glances back at us only to pale as he gets a good look at Dad's face.

I give a quick glance to the side and have to work hard to hide both my glee and fear as I see Philip's expression. While Dad tends to wear his emotions on the edge of his sleeve Philip is way more reserved, and I think I've only seen him this angry once before, when a few of our servants were attacked and killed by a Stray Devil that had somehow made it's way on to the family grounds.

The ass kicking that had ensued afterwards had been brutal, and he'd been wearing this very same look at the time.

I might get my wish and see this particular Crocell stomped into the dirt after all.

In fact it looks like that's exactly about to happen when Dad menacingly stalks forward…only for Mom to evenly state, "Hayden, Philip? As much as I appreciate the gesture, Mr. Crocell is our guest, I'd appreciate it if he lived to tell the tale. Also I wouldn't want our son to bear witness to such senseless violence."

While I'm of the opinion that some senseless violence is exactly what this situation requires, no one really asked for my thoughts while Dad and Philip grudgingly stand down.

Turning her attention back to Crocell Mom lightly smiles and says, "I think all has been said that needs to be said Mr. Crocell. If you're amenable to the idea, why don't we end our meeting here and pursue the matter at a later date?"

Still apprehensively eyeing Dad he gives a short nod and quickly replies, "Agreed. I will send a message as soon as a future opening in my schedule is allowed."

With that rushed and downright rude dismissal he turns on his heel and leaves the room with obvious haste, clearly not wanting to stick around and face Dad and Philip's angry gazes.

Once he's gone everyone releases a tired sigh while I slip off of Dad's shoulders and walk on over to Mom, who's tiredly slumped in her chair. She shakes herself out of her stupor and gives me a warm smile as I approach and I take a moment to carefully watch her.

I can say, without any bias obviously, that my Mom is definitely one of the prettiest Moms on the planet. Long blond hair that reaches down to her lower back, a porcelain face with warm green eyes and a smile that can brighten my day no matter how sad I am.

Yup, my Mom is pretty awesome. Which is why I'm going to try to cheer her up a bit.

"It's alot nicer in here without the Old Satan faction loving Motherfucker sticking around, isn't it?"

I hear Philip give a surprised cough at my statement while Dad makes an odd noise that sounds something like a grunt and a laugh put together. Mom's mouth briefly twitches in amusement before she adopts a stern expression and says, 'Caine, I don't want you using that kind of language until you're older. Where did you hear that anyway?"

Cheekily grinning I reply, "From you."

She holds my stare for another few seconds before cracking and gaining an amused smile on her face.

"Fair enough. But I don't want you using that kind of language regardless, understood?"

I roll my eyes before replying, "Ok ok, I won't. I think it's kind of unfair that you get to be so free with the rules when you take important meetings in your pajamas though. Heck Mom, you're not even wearing shoes!"

She smirks and turns in her chair before waving her bare foot around in my face before I scowl and push it away. To be fair the midnight black robe she's wearing can actually pull double duty as both sleepwear and formalwear, and it's not like anyone can see her feet if she's sitting behind the desk anyway.

A supremely smug look on her face she reclines into the chair and says, "Well when you get to be as powerful as your Mother you can make all the rules you want Sweetie."

New life goal when I grow up: be as lazily successful as Mom.

Leaning forward with a look of interest on her face she asks, "Speaking of being as powerful as your Mother, how's your training coming along? It's been awhile since you've last shown me your Shade, so how's it going?"

Seeing Dad and Philip look on with interest I grin in anticipation before focusing.

The Valefor family has a natural affinity for using the power of shadows, whether it be manifesting them as extra appendages, weapons, using them to hide, traveling through them…it's a pretty awesome list if I do say so myself. I promise I'm not biased.

The cool part is that while she's never told me this directly, no doubt to avoid giving me an ego trip, I caught Mom gloating to Dad one day that apparently I have an innate affinity for the Valefor powers that surpasses even her own.

Oh yah baby.

Quickly kicking those thoughts to the back of my brain I take a deep breath and slowly extend my Devil powers to my shadow. Feeling a connection between the 2, and the sudden sensation of suddenly having an extra arm that I can manipulate at will, I smile as a small shadow appendage maybe an inch thick wraps itself around my waist before I extend it 4 meters out to clumsily grab a pen off of mom's desk.

I don't miss the look of gleeful triumph in Mom's face before she catches herself and schools her features into an impassive mask.

This is probably the part where she knocks me down a peg.

"Pretty impressive Sweetie, but you're not quite at Mom's level yet."

Smiling evilly she gestures to Philip who grins and makes a small gesture with his hand. With barely any warning all of the glassware and furniture in the room suddenly jumps straight into the air where they hang for a second before heading back down to the floor where they're almost certainly going to smash.

Looks like this room is going to be down 8 tea cups, a tea kettle, 8 shot glasses and 7 chairs once all is said and done.

Except Mom just lazily smiles and makes an almost lazy flick of her wrist before 24 Shades come bursting out of every shadow in the room and smoothly grab every falling piece of office crap with seemingly no effort, way more impressive than my stilted attempt to grab a single freaking pen.

Mom gives me a cheery smile and I merely sigh.

"I get it, I get it…I've still got a long way to go. You can stop making me feel like a loser now Mom."

She pouts and replies in a hurt tone of voice, "But I just wanted to show off to my sweet little boy! See, look what I can do!"

One of the Shades suddenly lets go of a shot glass and dissipates, letting it resume it's journey to the floor below. 4 other Shades suddenly toss their own glasses up in the air before they just seem to blur with insane speed, their prior tentacle like shape flattening into a razor sharp edge. They seem to pass through the falling shot glass without even touching it before they quickly return to grab their respective charges, leaving the glass to fall to the floor below.

Which it does. In 8 separate, cleanly cut pieces.

Landing with a subdued thunk on the padded carpet Mom gives me a mock bow before the rest of her Shades smoothly return the rest of the glasses and furniture to their original spots.

I try, and fail miserably, to not look impressed at the display. Using that many Shades at once would be like trying to control an extra set of 24 arms and legs.

"Once you can pull that off, then you can think about taking over the family's duties."

She glances at my Dads and smiles before saying to me, "Would you mind leaving us alone for a few hours Sweetie? Your fathers and I have a few things to talk about."

My face falls and I complain, "Aw c'mon! Dad and Philip just got back after being gone for a week and this is the first time in days you haven't been busy! Why am I being kicked to the curb here?!"

No sooner do the words leave my mouth than my eyes widen and I look at all 3 of them suspiciously.

"…You're all going to have sex, aren't you?"

There's dead silence and then Philip lightly coughs and hesitantly asks, "Uh, Caine? Where did you hear that?"

I blankly look at him and reply, "From your bedroom. Jonah and I were going to ask you three something last week and all we heard was some moaning. By the way, what the heck is a 'Devil's threesome' and 'spit-roast'? I asked Jonah and he just shook his head and dragged me away. I had to keep badgering him about what was going until he finally caved and told me you guys were having sex and not to bother you."

3 perplexed looks are my only response until Dad explosively laughs and says, "My son is finally growing up! Haha, don't you worry boy, your understanding of sex will come sooner than you think. Until then, don't worry about."

I give him a doubtful look until Mom gathers me up in a hug and gives me a quick kiss on the cheek.

"I know you missed us Sweetie, but we're not pushing you aside just because we want to have sex. We do have some difficult things to talk about that you're not quite ready to hear about."

I frown but grudgingly reply, "Alright…but you better make it up to me later. I missed you 3. And while Jonah probably wouldn't admit it, I know he did too."

Dad comes up and pats me on the shoulder comfortingly before saying, "We missed you too squirt. But we have a bit of a surprise lined up for you today."

I raise an eyebrow.

"You do?"

"Yup, Lord Lucifer and Lord Phenex are coming over for dinner tonight."

My eyes widen and I practically shout, "Uncle Sirzechs and Daimon are coming over?! Are Ravel and Riser coming over with them?!"

Mom winks at me and easily replies, "But of course. They should be here in another 5 hours or so. Be on your best behavior until then, alright?"

I give a mock salute and shout, "Yes ma'm!"

As I leave the room I can't stop grinning in excitement. Oh man tonight is gonna rock!


I lean back into my chair with a tired sigh, feeling the usual weight of leadership take it's toll.

"Hard day?"

I shoot an amused glance at Hayden before exhaustedly replying, "You have no idea. I forgot how hard it is to deal with those Crocell idiots without you 2 here to intimidate them."

"Are they going to be a threat? We all know that they were the bastards who transported that Stray Devil directly onto the grounds, we just don't have proof."

"Hard to say. They're both vindictive and cowardly, an annoying combination. Although recently they've been even more confrontational and aggressive than normal. I can't help but wonder if there's a reason that they're acting in such a manner…we should keep a close eye on them."

I bonelessly collapse in my seat and close my eyes. What a mess…

I give a small squeak of surprise as I suddenly find myself being picked up in someone's arms and carried away bridal style. Glancing up I see Hayden with a stern look on his face and Philip closely following us.

"Clarissa, you need a break. It's rather obvious to the both of us that you've been working for at least a day straight now."

I'm about to protest but instead give a defeated sigh. Arguing with Hayden and Philip when they've made up their minds is a lost cause. Instead I merely lean into Hayden's chest and reach out my hand to grasp Philip's.

"Now what would this poor King do without her Rook and Bishop to support her during tough times?"

Philip gives me an admiring smile and simply states, "She would manage, obviously. After all, she has the best of my brains-"

"-And my brawn."

I chuckle and close my eyes, thankful for my 2 husband's ability to brighten my day no matter the situation.

We spend the next few minutes of walking in comfortable silence until we arrive at our bedroom and Hayden sits at the edge of the bed, me still nestled in his lap while Philip briefly leaves to put away his stuff.

I suddenly giggle and playfully drag my finger over Hayden's chiseled chest, remembering my youngest's skill at controlling a Shade.

"Isn't our Caine something else? 10 years old and he's already well on his way to fully controlling a Shade. He's ahead of me by 4 years on that front, the little punk!"

Hayden gives a prideful chuckle and unconsciously sits up straighter.

"It's not just his skill at controlling a Shade that he's adept with. I didn't tell him this, but he tried to ambush me and Philip when we got back by cloaking himself with a shadow and hiding on the ceiling. If he hadn't been wearing loose clothing that made noise as he fell, he actually would have caught me with my pants down. That kid has a genius for fighting and he probably doesn't even know it."

I grin and give his right nipple a playful tweak.

"He must get that from your side of the family you uncultured barbarian."

"Guilty as charged my lovely little Valkyrie."

Philip rejoins us and slowly starts massaging my feet, getting a pleased smile from me as I slowly say, "Caine and Jonah…in between the 2 of them, a couple decades down the road they might not even need us."

Philip smiles and quietly says, "I actually feel somewhat sorry for Caine truth be told. He puts in so much effort trying to match Jonah's level of study…not knowing that his older brother advanced his level of learning yet again almost a year ago."

Hayden laughs and replies, "I'm saving that particular bit of info in case Caine ever gets a little too full of himself. That bit of news will bring him down a peg."

I pout and turn my most pity frown on him.

"That's so mean Hayden!"

He grins at me and I shiver at the look in his eyes.

"Well you did just call me an uncultured barbarian…"

I gasp aloud as he tears open my robe at the front, exposing my nude body since I may have, uh…neglected to put on any underwear before starting work. My train of thought is suddenly interrupted as Philip ceases his foot massage and moves his ministrations to my rapidly dampening pussy, his tongue gracefully dancing over my lips.

A more excited gasp escapes my throat as Haden begins to massage my breasts and playfully bites my neck, his voice a purr as he says, "You poor thing, no one to give you attention for a whole week…"

Words fail me as Philip removes his tongue and instead inserts a finger, gently massaging the spot, causing me to moan sweetly.

Oh yes, I've certainly missed this…


Almost there…a little closer…aaaaaaand…go!

I quickly dash across the lawn towards the group consisting of Uncle Sirzechs and Daimon, with Ravel and Riser trailing behind them slightly. I almost missed them arriving since I figured they weren't gonna be here for another few hours, but luckily I was wandering the ground practicing with my control over shadows when I saw the Magic circle flare to life.

And then I plotted my ambush. Hiding myself in shadows I ever so carefully sneak up behind Ravel and Riser, grinning like a madman as I do so. Uncle Daimon shoots a quick glance over his shoulder in my direction before smiling ever so slightly and turning his attention back to the cobblestone path. Uncle Sirzechs doesn't even turn around, but then again he probably sensed me right from the start since the dude is scary strong.

Finally settling in behind Ravel and Riser as they continue their conversation I listen in, purely out of curiosity of course.

"All I'm saying, Ravel, is that you could stand to be a little more ladylike. I can't have my darling little sister going around like some tomboy and beating up the other Devils."

Scowling something fierce Ravel angrily replies, "They were picking on some poor reincarnated Devil! It was 4 on 1, those jerks got what they deserved!"

Riser sighs and replies, "Then you should have let me handle it. As a potential heir to the clan I have to set an example to others, and stopping bullying would be the perfect scenario."

"Newsflash genius, I'm a potential heir too! And unlike you I actually did that out of the goodness of my heart!"

Apparently deciding enough is enough Daimon Phenex gives the 2 squabbling siblings a stern look and states, "That's quite enough out of you 2. Be on your best behavior while we're here or I'm sending you 2 home."

I grin as both Ravel and Riser grumble but stop their argument while Sirzechs chuckles.

"That was a very brave thing you did standing up for the other Devil Ravel. I think Caine and Jonah would approve of your actions."

She suddenly clasps her hands together in front of her and bashfully says, "Y-you think so? I mean I'm sure Jonah would, but do you think Caine would be proud of me?"

Amusement now definitely in his voice Uncle Daimon calmly says, "Well I suppose you could always ask him, seeing as how he's heard this entire conversation."

Taking that as my cue I drop the shadow and give a jaunty wave, causing the both of them to jump at my appearance.

"Hey guys!"

They both turn to me at the same time and simultaneously shout, "Where did you come from?!"

I simply grin and point to their shadows, smiling at their sudden annoyed expressions. Riser groans and mutters, "It's going to be open prank season from here on out…"

Still smiling I turn to Uncle Sirzechs and Daimon and bow to each of them.

"Lord Lucifer, Lord Phenex."

Sirzechs playfully pouts and says, "How many times have I told you Caine, you don't have to stand on ceremony when we're among friends. Just call me Uncle Sirzechs!"

Daimon gives a more reserved answer of, "Indeed Caine. No need to be overly formal when we're not in public."

Smirking I take that as an excuse to give the both of them a big hug which Sirzechs gleefully takes, the big teddy bear, while Daimon takes his with his usual stoicism.

With the greetings over I turn to my two Phenex friends and give a happy smile. Riser is wearing one of his usual suits and his trademark smirk, his bangs hanging over his eyes slightly. Ravel on the other hand is wearing a dark purple dress and has her hair done in a long braided ponytail that reaches down to the small of her back, a radiant smile on her face. I go ahead and ask, "Not that I'm complaining, but aren't you guys a few hours early? I thought you weren't supposed to show up until later? And where's Aunt Grayfia and Linada?"

Riser shrugs and replies, "Unfortunately Mother is otherwise busy right now, I imagine Miss Grayfia has similar duties."

Sirzechs gives a brief nod to Riser's words.

"While regretful, my dear wife has her own duties to attend to. On that note how are your parents Caine? Hopefully we're not interrupting anything too important by coming early."

"Well you might have to wait for a bit, Dad and Dad #2 just got back after being gone for a week, so they and Mom said they had a lot to catch up on."

Sirzechs and Daimon share a knowing glance at each other along with weird smiles, giving me the impression that they know more than they're letting on.

Daimon dramatically sighs and says, "Well we wouldn't want to interrupt that, now would we Lord Lucifer?"

Sirzechs still has that weird smile on his face and relies, "No we wouldn't Lord Phenex, no we wouldn't."

Ravel and I share a quick glance of confusion at their bizarre reactions. What's even more confusing is that Riser seems to get what they're talking about as he's very carefully avoiding everyone else's gaze as if he's embarrassed by something.

We both scowl and Ravel pokes Riser, asking, "Well what are they talking about Big Brother? C'mon, tell us!"

Riser just shakes his head and replies, "I'll tell you when you're older. No, strike that. I'm not going to tell you, that'll be Mother and Father's job."

I frown and say, "When we're older? That's what Mom told me earlier when-hey this is about them having sex, isn't it?!"

Sirzechs suddenly doubles over laughing while Daimon tries and fails to hide his grin. Riser just sighs and face palms while Ravel's eyes widen and she turns to Daimon.

"That's what you and Mother do sometimes when you tell me to leave you alone, isn't it?! You tell me the exact same thing, 'we'll tell you when you're older'!"

I nod fervently in agreement and say, "What she said, what are you all keeping from us?! And why is Uncle Sirzechs apparently dying from laughter?!"

Uncle Sirzech's face is almost as red as his hair and he has tears streaming down his face, holding his sides with an expression of pained amusement on his face.

"S-sorry, but oh that was funny…Ah I can't wait to have kids of my own…or maybe a little sister or brother would be good…"

Daimon sighs and shakes his head, turning to the 2 Phenex siblings and myself.

"Why don't you 3 enjoy each other's company until later this night? Lord Lucifer and myself will mostly just be discussing business while waiting for the Valefor's."

Riser sighs and morosely says, "So I have to babysit the children? Oh joy."

Our previous indignation about the whole sex thing forgotten in the wake of Riser calling us children we both simultaneously shout, "Hey we're not children!"

He merely rolls his eyes in response.

I huff in irritation but grab both their hands and start dragging them towards the west wing of the mansion.

"C'mon guys, let's see if we can drag my Brother out of whatever self-imposed exile he's put himself in."

"Hey! Jonah! Open up already!"

Irritation clear in his tone my Brother replies with, "Quit bugging me already! I already told you I'm busy!"

A smug grin appears on my face and I graciously step aside for Riser, who gleefully shouts, "That's a poor showing of your knowledge of social graces! What use is all that learning if you can't even apply it properly?"

There's dead silence for a moment before there's the sound of running feet and Jonah unlatches his door with a breathless look on his face. Seeing Riser and Ravel he gets a goofy grin on his face before giving Riser a friendly hug.

"Like you deserve any social niceties. Thanks for making sure my Baby Brother didn't wet himself on the way here."

I surreptitiously flip him the middle finger, a gesture I learned not more than a month ago when Dad had a run in with a Crocell family messenger. He shoots me a teasing smirk in response and I settle for rolling my eyes.

In terms of the looks department we don't share very many similarities, where I'm already tall for my age and just starting to fill out, no doubt thanks to my Dad's natural disposition towards muscle mass, Jonah is more lanky and average sized, much like Philip is. The only similarity we have is our hair color and eye color.

We both have jet black hair with a single blond highlight running down our scalps and two different eye colorations. One orb has a bright red pupil, and the other is a bright green.

No one can really explain why we have heterochromia, since the green eye obviously comes from our mom but neither of our Dads have red eyes. Genetics can be weird sometimes.

He and Riser walk into his room and they both turn to look at us once Ravel and I make to follow them.

"And just where do you 2 think you're going?"

Ravel gives a confused look and says, "Well we're following you obviously."

Riser smirks and cheekily replies, "Sorry, no kids allowed. Have fun now.", before shutting the door in our faces.

…Family. Can't live with them, can't live without them.

Ravel and I both share a sigh, used to the 'push around the younger sibling' treatment and mostly deadened to it.

She turns to me and asks, "So what do you want to do Caine?"

I think about it for a moment before it clicks and I snap my fingers.

"I know! You know how our families are always talking about that sex thing and never give us any details about it?"

She scowls and says, "Yah, that's so unfair! Do you have a plan?"

"Heh, you bet I do. Remember how Uncle Sirzechs and your Dad were saying they didn't mind waiting for my parents to finish their, 'business', and then said they would tell us more about it as we got older? I bet my parents are having sex right now! We can look in through their room's window and see what the big deal is!"

Ravel doesn't say anything for a moment before she laughs and gives me a huge smile.

"Who says you're not as smart as your Brother? That's genius! Let's go!"

We both move to run off before I stop and quickly say, "Wait, their room is on the top floor and their window doesn't have any ledges to climb down onto…"

Ravel gives me a confused look and replies, "Aren't we just going to fly up there? Why would we need to climb?"

I avert my eyes and embarrassedly reply, "Well, uh…I'm still a little shaky when it comes to flying and…yah."

She stares blankly at me before madly giggling and chokes out, "Y-you, you don't even know how to fly yet?! That's hilarious!"

I immediately feel my face redden and sharply reply, "I can fly, I'm just not perfect at it yet! Stop laughing and let's go already!"

I run off, Ravel still chortling behind me as she follows.


I give Riser an exasperated look as we hear our younger Brother and Sister run off and start the conversation with, "You don't seem all that perturbed that your baby sister is about to see 3 adults no doubt involved in some seriously kinky stuff."

Riser gives a noncommittal shrug.

"She's going to learn about it sooner or later, this is just a bit of a teaser. And how 'kinky' is it really going to be? It's just a threesome right?"

I give my buddy a deadpan look and reply, "I heard Dad talking about how Mom is pretty skilled with her Shades, and gave the most amazing anal. Sound freaky enough?"

He gives a low whistle.

"This sounds like it might require some therapy afterwards."

I give a thoughtful nod and reply, "But mostly it'll just be an amazing opportunity to see our dorky younger siblings act incredibly awkward around each other…"

"…And for us to mercilessly tease them about it.", he finishes with a smirk.

I grin in reply.

"Riser, you truly are a fiend."

We share a high-five at our own genius.


"C'mon Caine, is this really so hard for you?"

I struggle through the air, desperately trying not to smash my face into the wall and give Ravel more ammunition to tease me with. Flying has been one of the few things I have serious trouble learning, figuring out when to physically flap them and when to just push some Magic into them in order to float along has been a brutal learning process.

Most of the time ending up with me spitting out a mouthful of dirt.

"This is nothing! See, I'm in total control-woah!"

I suddenly veer off course and smack my chest into the lip of the roof, forcing all the air out of my lungs as I cling onto the edge and try to remember how to breathe again. Ravel doubles over laughing at my expense and I shoot her a half-hearted glare.

That was kind of uncool.

"Give me a hand up here?"

Still wiping the tears from her eyes she sticks out her hand and helps give me a boost up.

"Ok, so where to from now Mr. Tour Guide?"

I adopt a false Australian accent and reply, "Well love, over that bloody hill lies our prey, a bit of masonry that leads to our target."

Giggling she speaks like some old English princess and says, "Lead on then Governor, we'll be following in your footsteps!"

The two of us grin and quickly start traversing the top of the building until we come to the overhand that leads to my parents room's windows. I've done this a few times before, mostly just to annoy them, but it's a convenient way to sneak in at times like these. It's about a 2 meter drop to a thin ledge, easy enough if I let my wings slow my descent.

I'm about to jump when Ravel hesitantly says, "Umm…Caine?"


She coughs before hesitantly asking, "Is there a uh, well…different way to get in?"

I cock an eyebrow at her in confusion before replying, "Not without alerting them, no. Why? Afraid of heights?"

She averts her eyes and angrily retorts, "No way! It's know…"


She stamps her foot on the ground in frustration before angrily pouting at me.

"I don't know how to actually control my speed when flying, ok?! Grabbing that tiny little ledge is going to be impossible for me!"

I stare at her for the longest time before collapsing in a fit of laughter.

"W-wait! So you can only fly at one speed?! Haha! And you were making fun of me for having trouble! At least I can control how fast I go!"

She just gives me a nasty look as I eventually get control of myself and wipe away my tears.

"Ok then…whew that was funny."

"No it wasn't jerk."

"No need to worry though, I have a backup plan I just thought of about 2 seconds ago." I state proudly, ignoring Ravel's acidic tone.

Quickly going over to the gutters that line the roof's edge I test the strength of them and give a satisfied nod. They're made of the same material the roof is, and should hold up both of our weights nicely.

Concentrating I summon my Shade and work as hard as I can to lengthen it. If I don't need it to do anything difficult like move around and dexterously handle objects I can extend it to almost 9 meters long with no problems. Quickly having it anchor itself in the gutter and testing to make sure it's strong enough I motion to Ravel.

"Hop on and keep a tight hold."

She briefly looks doubtful but shrugs and goes ahead anyway, wrapping her arms around my chest as I position myself near the ledge.

Taking a deep breath I lean back and slowly walk my way down the side of the building, trying not to think about how dangerous this actually is. Sure, we can fly without too much of an issue, but that's still a bit of a drop if anything goes wrong.

Thankfully my little rock-climbing maneuver goes off without a hitch as my feet touch the ledge and I turn to the side so Ravel can disembark. Once we get ourselves situated we lean close to each other and I whisper, "Ok from here on out we're dead silent, ok? Follow my lead."

She nods in acknowledgement and an excited little grin appears on her face, mirroring mine. Breaking and entering is so much fun! It must be my natural Valefor disposition towards theft coming to the surface.

Carefully slipping my Shade in through the crack of the windowsill I pop the lock on the other side and gently push the window open. While Ravel gives me an impressed look that I immensely enjoy, it's tempered by the knowledge that Mom cold have just manifested one of her Shades on the other side of the window and avoided worming her way through the window itself. Heck, she could have just Shadow Walked onto the other side no problem.

I guess I've got a long way to go still…

The 2 of us quietly step onto the floor and briefly look around. This is the office Philip and Mom often use that's attached to the bedroom, we'll be able to spy on my parents through the door, especially if they're distracted.

Which is when I suddenly notice the throaty shouts and moans that I had initially missed, I was so focused on making sure no one actually heard us. My wide eyes meet Ravel's and we both give a nervous nod before creeping forward with comedic sneakiness.

Thankfully the door is open slightly so it's easy to peek through the gap without being too obvious, but I cover myself with shadows just to be safe and Ravel quickly grabs Philips discarded black jacket that was hanging on a chair.

Simultaneously taking deep breaths we peek through the door and…and…

…What the heck?!

Mom is sandwiched between Dad and Philip, her legs spread out and being held up by the 2 of them as they repeatedly make some sort of thrusting motion, their eyes closed and faces making some sort of seriously pleased expression.

I squint my eyes and almost choke on my tongue once I see what the point of all that thrusting is. Dad and Philip are using their penises to…to…wait, if that's where babies come from…are they trying to make another baby?! Am I going to have another Brother or Sister?!

That's so weird.

Trying to swallow as quietly as I can I go back to watching, trying to figure out the incredibly confusing puzzle that is 'sex' when I notice something very weird, even weirder than everything else I've seen so far.

Dad and Philip each have one of Mom's shades coming out of their butts-no, wait…it's going into their butts?!

I tear my gaze away from the scene and try to catch my breath. I, I…I'm pretty sure that wasn't something I'm supposed to know about for another few years. I now believe everybody else when they said this was something we would understand better when we were older, because I sure as heck don't get any of it now!

Shooting a glance in Ravel's direction to see how she's doing I can instantly tell it's not much better than my reaction. Her face is a dark crimson and her eyes are so wide I'm surprised her eyes haven't popped out of her head yet. I quickly tap her on her arm and nearly jump out of my skin when she violently starts at my touch, almost banging her head against the door.

I give a quick jerk of my head back towards the window and she gives a quick nod of agreement. We both quietly make our way to our exit point, trying to ignore the cries of passion that seemed to have gotten even louder this past minute, and they were none too quiet beforehand either.

We're so lost in our individual thoughts that neither of us notice that I instinctively used my wings for a smooth descent, Ravel right behind me despite her confession of not being able to control herself very well.

Wow. This is awkward.

Clearing my throat I hesitantly say, "I think we can both agree that that was way different than from what we were expecting."

She nods.

"…Never speak of this to anyone else, no matter what?"

Another nod.

"Ok then, I'm erasing this whole thing from my memory."

Ravel gives a brief chuckle but I think we both agree on the fact that we just saw something very disturbing. Eager to get our minds off of the whole stupid adventure we went on I ask, "Want to play some aerial tag?"

She finally gives a small but real smile and replies, "I'd love that. And yes, let's…not talk about what we just witnessed. At all."

"C'mon Caine is this really so hard for you?"

I give Ravel a nasty glare and reply, "Is that your catchphrase for today or something?"

"If the shoe fits…"

I heave a sigh of suffering and go back to the test sheet. Riser and Jonah ended up joining us after dinner had ended, one thing led to another and I bet Jonah I could get a better grade on a test he took when he was my age.

Big mistake.

"Question 3: What are the requirements for using the little known combat ability, 'toki', and what branch of Magic does it originate from?"

…What, in the name of Lucifer's left butt cheek, is toki?!

I scratch my head and pretend to actually have a clue so as to save face. It doesn't seem to work since the other 3 are all giving me smug looks.


I rack my brains for almost a whole minute…and come up with nothing.

Grimacing in defeat I set down my pen and state, "I'm out. How'd I do?"

Ravel quickly compares my answers to the key and gives a small nod of approval.

"65/100, not bad Caine."

Jonah smirks and proudly says, "Not bad Little Bro. Another 32 points and you'd be one short of matching me."

I fiercely scowl and reply, "Alright then boy genius, what the frick is Toki then?"

"Obviously it's a technique that originates from the power called Senjutsu. You use your body's own life force as a sort of protective shell that is pretty damn hard to crack and lets you hit a heckuva lot harder. Miss Ravel, is that correct?"

She checks the paper and nods in agreement.

"Yup, that's it."

I bang my head on the table and Ravel quickly adds, "Well aside from that one you got the other questions mostly at least half-right Caine."

I feel like that's a bit of conciliatory knife-twisting, but I appreciate the gesture anyway. Riser just pats me on the back and gives me a lazy smile.

"Don't worry kiddo, no harm in not being a super nerd like your Brother over there."

Jonah rolls his eyes and archly says, "Thanks Riser. Any other nice things you want to say about me?"

"Not among polite company, no."

As Jonah playfully slugs him across his arm I lean back in my chair and tiredly rub my eyes. We'd decided to settle our little challenge in the main foyer while our parents finished up whatever they're talking about in the dining room. Tastefully decorated in the Valefor family's colors of black and dark green with a roaring fireplace it's a really comfortable setup. It's a shame I usually associate this room with me failing miserably at beating Jonah at something academically related.

Before I can think on that further the main doors open and our families walk in, minus Sirzechs.

Jonah raises an eyebrow and asks, "I take it Lord Sirzechs had to leave?"

Mom smiles and replies, "Unfortunately he did. The Maou has more than a few duties to attend to after all."

Daimon glances around the room and then turns to Ravel with a smile on his face.

"Since it's rather late why don't we all take a moment to wear more comfortable clothing than our formal wear? Oh, and Ravel? Don't forget to bring it with you."

I glance at her with open curiosity as she briefly looks at me and blushes before giving a quick nod and leaving the room. Mom smiles and takes her hand before they walk out of the room. I give a questioning look at the rest of the guys in the room but they merely give me carefully blank stares in return.

"I know that look. You're all keeping something from me aren't you?"

Dad merely gives me a cheerful slap on the back that I'm pretty sure dislocates my spine as he happily replies, "You'll figure it out soon enough my boy. And it'll be a night to remember for you, mark my words."

I merely shoot him a confused look as Philip and Daimon chuckle at my bewilderment.

I merely shrug as I go to change into my nightclothes, figuring that whatever sort of nasty surprise they have planned is gonna happen regardless of whether I try to prepare for it or not. I just finished changing into a pitch black pair of shorts and tank top when I hear Mom shout, "Caine honey? Can you come here for a second?"

Wincing in preparation for whatever dumb thing it is she wants me to do I slowly walk on over to my parent's room only to find her standing outside of it wearing a forest green night robe with what I can only describe as a predatory smirk on her face as she sees me approach.

"Took you long enough. Go on inside, Ravel has something she wants to talk to you about."

I raise an eyebrow and open my mouth to ask her what the problem is but she happily trots away, leaving me completely lost as to what the heck is happening to everybody all of the sudden.

It's weirding me out.

Shaking my head I walk on inside and come to a dead stop at the image before me.

Mom left only a single lamp on, and a dim one at that, casting the room in a soothing sort of twilight. Mostly because of that twilight glow permeating the room, Ravel shines like a beacon. She's wearing some sort of blood-red silken nightgown that stops midway down her thighs, showing off her athletic legs. She let her hair out of it's braid and it's now flowing freely down her back in a shimmering blonde wave.

I audibly gulp and try to think of…well, something to say or do other than stand here like a dummy. I know I've always thought of Ravel as being cute, but this is…all I can call her is beautiful, a term I've never really applied to anyone other than mine and Ravel's Moms. And even then, I don't think they're beautiful in the same sense that Ravel is beautiful right now.

…Urgh, c'mon brain, do something already!

Thankfully Ravel seems to be just as lost on what to say as I am since her mouth opens and then closes again with an audible clack before she goes back to nervously shifting on her feet. Apparently coming to some sort of decision she suddenly straightens her back and stiffly marches over to me, never breaking eye contact as she does so.

Stopping about half a meter away from me she suddenly thrusts out something in her hands and blushes furiously before looking away. Grateful for something to do other than stare at her I look down at what she's holding and promptly let loose a startled gasp.

"Ravel, is that a…a Phoenix Heart?!"

My voice sounds unnaturally loud in the previously deafening silence and I almost startle myself before I glance at Ravel, who takes a shaky breath and nods.

"I-it is. And do you, umm…know what it s-signifies?"

I desperately rack my brains, trying to remember the history behind the Phoenix Heart and almost swallow my tongue when I remember what it means.

"Y-you want to marry me?!"

She blushes an even deeper shade of crimson and stutters a reply.

"W-well I don't want to-no, I mean I do want to-er, if you're ok with it! But that's not what I-uh, I mean our parents made a betrothal pact before we were born, so you know, uh, wow is it hot in here? I'm actually really happy about it-no! I'm not happy about being forced to marry you because of the pact! Er, wait, I mean I am happy, but not because we're being forced to do this! Gaaaah! Caine, are you ok with this?!"

Ravel's growing hysteria already has me on the verge of breakdown and I have a perfectly eloquent reply of my own ready to go.

"No, I'm also not ok with this! Wait, I mean I like the part where we're being forced into this, but not the part about being with you! Wait, crap, reverse what I just said! I like you, don't like the part about being part of an agreement! And yah, I think it is pretty hot in here, but being married is pretty ok with it! Wait, what did I just say?! Gaaaah! Yes I would like to marry you Ravel!"

Dammit brain! You had ONE job! Don't make me sound like an idiot!

We both fall silent for a moment and try to catch our respective breath and I take the silence as an excuse to take a closer look at the Phoenix Heart. It's a brilliant red gemstone about 4 centimeters in diameter with brilliant electric blue lines spiderwebbed across it's surface and a silver chain connected to it's tip, obviously meant to be worn around the neck. I squint slightly and see strange ethereal flames dancing in the center of the gem, giving the whole gem the appearance of a real, beating heart.

"It's incredible…"

Seeming to have calmed down a little Ravel gently smiles at my words and takes my hands in her own, gently cupping the Phoenix Heart between them.

"It's not just for looks, there's a practical side to it. Try pushing some of your Magic through it and see what happens."

I do as she says and after a bit of concentrating a small burst of azure flame surrounds the Heart. I almost drop it in my surprise but Ravel keeps my hands steady and I get ahold of myself as I realize the fire is no more heated than a warm summer breeze.


Ravel lightly laughs at my expression and explains, "The Phoenix Heart's flames won't burn their user unless they put a considerable amount of power into it, a neat little trick, right?"

A giant grin makes it's way onto my face and I eagerly reply, "You bet it is, thanks so much Ravel!"

I gently unfurl the chain and drape the Heart around my neck, marveling at how warm it feels…

"It looks good on you Caine."

I feel my face heat up at the compliment and hide it by sheepishly scratching my head.

"Thanks, but I feel kinda bad for not having anything impressive to give to you in return."

She just cheerfully smiles and replies, "No problem, you can just get me something really expensive and cool later!"

I simultaneously grin and wince at her words but promise myself that her gift will be one that's just as valuable and meaningful as her Phoenix Heart.

I spare another glance at the incredible gemstone and lightly chuckle, still coming to terms with this whole series of events.

"Married, huh? It just seems like…well, a pretty big responsibility."

She gives a nervous nod of her own and hesitantly replies, "It does, doesn't it? Do you…do you think we'll be any good at it? Being married?"

I furrow my eyes briefly but then give a confident nod.

"Well we won't actually have the ceremony until we're 13, so that's 3 more years to get used to everything…and yah, I think we'll be pretty good at it."

I smirk proudly and state, "Besides, you and I are the prodigies of House Phenex and Valefor, We can tackle anything if we put our heads together!"

She giggles at my bravado before nodding happily.

At that point we run out of things to say to one another and fall into a comfortable silence…until both our gazes fall on my parent's bed and our minds immediately flashback to earlier that day and the bizarre scene we saw.

Seeing that Ravel's face is just as red as mine as we remember what took place over there I figure now is the time to clear the air around this particular subject.

"Hey, uh, Ravel? I have kind of an…awkward question to ask. Hear me out before you hit me?"

She gives me a confused look but nods anyway.

"Once we're older, what we saw today unfortunately got me thinking. Do you, well, want to find out what the whole deal with sex is? N-not the weird stuff my parents were doing! Just, well…maybe something more normal? Or we can at least find out what normal is! Ugh, on second thought just forget I brought this up at all, it's a dumb subject…"

To my surprise Ravel doesn't slug me across the face for being weird, but instead looks downward in shyness.

"It's…it's not weird Caine. And yes, I'm…rather curious myself. I'd like to find out why sex is such a big deal. Once we're older though!"

I give a panicked nod, not wanting to drag out this topic any longer than necessary.

"Of course! When we're older!"

Ok, I think that's about all the stress my brain can handle right now, anymore and I'm probably gonna pop. I heave a relieved sigh and hold out my hand to Ravel.

"I guess we should head back and talk to our families then?"

She smiles and takes my hand before stopping dead and nervously licks her lips.

Uh oh…what now?

"Hey Caine, you know how married people often kiss?"

Keep cool Caine! You've already made enough of a babbling idiot of yourself so far, don't make it worse!

I carefully nod and reply, "Yah, do you…do you want to try?"

She nervously shifts her weight before nodding and I try to frantically recall how I've seen Mom and my Dads kiss before. Pull the other person close, put your heads together, then have your lips touch…

I nervously swallow before licking my lips and gently taking Ravel's remaining hand in my own and looking deeply into her eyes.

Dark blue orbs meet my own and we gently lean into each other, lips lightly brushing before we separate, simultaneously nervous and excited at the new sensation.

We silently agree that this new feeling needs to be explored a bit more. Moving with slightly more confidence we lock lips for far longer and gently squeeze each other's hands.

I'm not sure how to describe what I'm feeling right now. It's scary, exciting, dangerous and addicting all at once. Ravel's lips are so soft and pliable…and the way she smells…it's the smell of a warm fire on a cold night with a hint of mint.

I'm not sure how long it is until we break apart, but it feels like a small slice of eternity. Instead of saying anything we just continue to hold hands like that as we lightly lean on each other. Giving a small shake of my head I break the silence and say, "Hey Ravel?"

"Yes Caine?"

"This might sound a little strange but…I think we'll do just fine being married to each other. Do you, well…feel the same way?"

She's silent for a moment before snuggling closer to me and softly replies, "I do…we should actually head back to our parents now."

I get some of my sneakiness back and cheekily say, "After you, Miss Ravel Phenex Valefor."

She briefly giggles before tightly holding my hand as we walk side by side to the common room where everyone is waiting.

"So how come you let Caine brush your hair but threaten to burn me to a crisp whenever I offer?"

Ravel crosses her arm and gives Riser and withering glare before sharply retorting, "Because whenever you do so you yank out the snarls like some kind of animal! Caine's a gentleman about it."

Riser merely smirks in my direction and says, "Well I see who'll be wearing the pants in this relationship…"

I merely scoff as I gently run the comb through Ravel's tresses and reply, "You're just jealous Riser. Besides I like this job. Ravel's hair is really smooth and feels great."

I smirk as I see Ravel's cheeks flush while Riser and Jonah merely roll their eyes at my sappy words. Smiling, I finish brushing her hair and start braiding it in her preferred style. It was my Dad, of all people, who insisted that I learn how to properly style hair. Come to think of it he's kind of a fashionista despite his mannerisms that would leave most people thinking he could care less about appearances.

As I braid Ravel's hair I give my Older Brother a curious glance as a sudden though occurs.

"Hey Jonah?"

"What is it Little Bro?"

"How come it was me who was selected to marry Ravel? I'm sure as heck not complaining but I figured as the 1st son of our family you would be the one specified in the contract."

He suddenly looks incredibly awkward as Riser playfully digs his elbow into his side.

"Well, you see…uh…"

I hear Uncle Daimon chuckle and he looks over from where our Parents are sitting with a light smile on his face.

"Since Jonah seems to be too shy to admit he did something nice for his Brother, allow me to explain."

Jonah sighs in resignation while everyone else in the room looks on with amusement as Ravel and I share a confused glance.

"While Jonah was indeed originally meant to marry my little girl, he asked us to change the specifics of the contract after you and Ravel first met. Rather than the first son of the Valefor family it was altered to be any son of the Valefors."

I give Jonah a shocked look and ask, "Why did you ask for that? Did something happen?"

He awkwardly scratches the back of his head and sheepishly replies, "Yah, actually. You and Ravel met."

At our bewildered glances he sighs and continues with, "Let me explain. While you and I get along just fine Ravel, it was nothing compared to how I saw you and Caine act together. You 2 were practically inseparable and I figured you 2 would be much happier together than I would."

His shy smile turns more smug as he stares at me while I finish styling Ravel's hair.

"Judging by how well you 2 seemed to take the idea of getting married, I think I was right on the money."

I just sit there in shock, once again awed at how damn smart and observant my Older Brother can be. Now that I think about it, Ravel and I really did hit it off as soon as we met. We were both the younger siblings of older brothers and touted as highly talented children of our respective families. But more than that, we just treated each other as, well, normal people. No titles or overly polite speeches, just our names and lots of teasing involved.

I smile at Jonah and happily say, "Well thanks Big Brother, but I have to say I think you made a big mistake by not getting married to Ravel, considering how cool of a person she is."

"Caine!" she squeaks out shyly. I smirk and give her hand a quick squeeze. Holding Ravel's hand is quickly becoming my favorite thing to do. Huffing in fake irritation she stands up before plopping herself down next to me on the couch.

Correction, just being close to Ravel is my favorite thing to do.

Jonah just gives me an amused smile and replies, "You're very much welcome Little Bro. That said, did you 2 enjoy your little adventure earlier today? Learn anything, shall we say, interesting?"

Ravel and I both flush while Mom interestedly asks, "Oh? Did you and Ravel go someplace exciting?"

We both frantically shout, "No we didn't!" while Riser and Jonah just howl with laughter to the confusion of our parents.


I can't help the giant smile that comes over me as I stare at my Baby Boy and his future bride-to-be as they sleep deeply on the couch by the fire. Sometime during the night the day's events must have caught up with them and they started to nod off. I surreptitiously snap a photo with our camera and smile at the image.

Ravel is leaning onto Caine's chest with her braid hanging off to the side while my youngest has his arms gently wrapped around her, the Phoenix Heart slightly askew as it fell out of his shirt sometime during their slumber.

"They're quite the pair, aren't they?"

I glance at Daimon out of the corner of my eye and smile at one of my oldest friends.

"That they are. Our 2 little prodigies. I never really thanked you for being so amenable to the change in the contract, that couldn't have been easy."

He smiles before easily replying, "Not as hard as you might think. Besides, Jonah was really the one who convinced us that this was a better decision. Those boys of yours are really something else."

I softly smile at Jonah, who's currently debating with Riser whether they can get away with drawing on their younger sibling's faces. It never ceases to amaze me at how well Jonah has thrived despite often being cast in the shadow of his younger sibling, excuse the pun. Caine often gets the most attention by others due to his natural talent and skill with our family's powers while Jonah's incredible intelligence is overlooked, especially since Caine is quite smart by most standards anyway.

But he's never once been jealous of Caine for some reason me and my husbands have never really figured out. Oh they argue and make fun of each other just as much as any other siblings are inclined to do, but it's never really reached truly hurtful levels.

Perhaps it's because Caine doesn't really consider himself better than Jonah. While he's already surpassed Jonah in his control of our families powers, he always tries to beat him at his own game, constantly attempting to outdo his older brother at academics. Most likely Jonah isn't jealous of Caine because Caine still considers himself inferior in some respect.

Quite the strange dynamic between those 2.

Daimon glances at his watch and softly sighs before turning to the 3 of us.

"It's been a most interesting night, but I'm afraid we have to take our leave now. We have an early start tomorrow."

I glance towards where Ravel and Caine are sleeping and turn to Daimon with a smile on my face.

"Ravel can stay the night with us if you'd like. I promise we'll have her up bright and early if that's what you need."

He gently smiles but replies in the negative.

"While I appreciate the offer, and am loathe to separate those 2 over yonder," he says that part with a smile, "Linada will need Ravel and Riser at our house early to greet some guests we're having. They'll have to be separated for now unfortunately."

I dramatically sigh and bring a hand to my cheek.

"Tearing apart such young love? You're such a brute sometimes Daimon."

He rolls his eyes before walking over to Ravel and gently shaking her awake.

"It's time to wake up my little firebrand, we're headed home."

The two children stir sleepily and Ravel yawns before letting her head fall back onto Caine's chest with a soft plop.

"Can't I just stay here Father?"

I have to repress my squeal of glee at how cute she's being while Daimon shakes his head regretfully.

"Sorry Sweetie, but Mother will be angry if you don't come home with us. Come on now."

"He's right Ravel, Mother's anger isn't fun to deal with. Besides," Riser grins smugly at her as he walks over, "Your Boyfriend isn't going anywhere, he'll still be here tomorrow."

Ravel pouts cutely at him before Caine gently pats her head and says, "It's ok Ravel, we'll see each other again in a couple of days. I still have this after all."

He holds up the Phoenix Heart and Ravel gives a disappointed sigh before sitting up and giving Caine a hug.

"All right, but you better remember what you promised me."

He grins and says, "Trust me, I won't."

He then leans in and gives Ravel a full blown kiss on the lips which she shyly returns.

Which leaves all of us present in the room completely floored. My oh my, where did that come from? I openly grin at Daimon's incredulous expression before his features school themselves back into their neutral state once Ravel walks over to his side and hugs his leg. Riser just shakes his head before giving Jonah a playful punch on the arm and a friendly smile.

"See you around brainiac."

Jonah returns the smile with one of his own and replies, "I'll keep in touch you bag of hot air. Take care."

Philip leaves to make sure the Phenex family make it to the transport circle alright as Caine yawns and makes his way over to us. Hayden merely grins massively and picks our youngest up by his legs and sets him on his shoulders before heading off to his bedroom.

"So my little squirt has a wife now eh?"

I laugh as I hear a sleepy rebuttal come from Caine as they walk off and turn my attention to Jonah as he saunters over to my side.

"10 years old and already kissing his future wife full on the lips. We'll probably have to give him the talk sooner than expected."

I chuckle and reply, "He's going to beat your record then by almost a whole year. Weren't you like 11 and a half when we had to explain the birds and the bees to you?"

"I sure was. Maybe it's time to pass on that book you gave me to Caine, he's probably gonna need it."

I merely smile and gather Jonah in a hug, at which point he frantically asks, "M-mom?! What are you doing?!"

"Oh nothing, just giving my loving and thoughtful Son a big hug. Can't I do that?"

He gives a mock scowl before sharply retorting, "No, you can't. It'll destroy my rebellious teenage image. And what do you mean by loving and thoughtful?"

I give him a playful peck on the cheek and reply, "You're too smart to play dumb. You know I'm talking about how you convinced us all to change the marriage contract details. That was very kind of you, especially since you didn't have any real obligation to do so in the first place."

He scowls at my last sentence.

"What do you mean I wasn't under any obligation? He's my Little Brother! It's not like I need a reason…to…"

His eyes widen as he realizes what I got him to admit, my knowing smile growing even wider.

"…You clever She-Devil."

I give a mock bow and cheekily reply, "Despite your smarts and your brother's powers, the both of you aren't quite ready to tackle your Mother."

He gives a challenging grin and happily retorts, "Oh just you wait Mom. Me and Caine will have you enjoying a peaceful retirement before you know it."

I giggle and give him another big hug which this time he returns.

"So where's my hug?"

We both turn in surprise at the rare joke coming from Philip who's standing off to the side, his gentle smile on full display.

"Sorry Dad, it's my time for hugs. Besides, didn't you and Hayden already have plenty of fun with Mom today? I could hear the bed shaking from halfway across the mansion.

I immediately swat him on the arm and indignantly shout, "We're not that loud!"

He merely smirks and walks toward Philip before giving him hug of his own.

"Goodnight Mom, Dad. I'll see you in the morning."

I exasperatedly walk over to Philip who gathers me in his arms.

"…We aren't actually that loud, are we?"

Philip's reply is delivered in a monotone, although his slight grin gives away the joke.

"Well I'm rather quiet about the whole thing, but you can be louder than even Hayden if you put your mind to it. Especially when we come at you from 2 sides…"

I scowl and imperiously reply, "Careful mister, or I'll double the size of my Shade the next time I stick it in your ass."

He stands straight and immediately says, "Yes ma'm, I'll watch my tone from now on."

I giggle and lay a soft kiss on his lips.

Tonight was a good night.


"…Hey Dad?"

"What is it squirt?"

"What was it like when you fell in love with Mom?"

Oh hoh, that question…well this should be an enlightening talk, especially since my boy is pretty tired and won't be watching what he's saying as closely.

But I can have a little fun first.

"Why do you ask? In love with little Miss Ravel? I mean I can understand why, she's going to grow up into an incredibly beautiful woman, you lucky dog you."

"It's not that. I mean, she is really cute…in fact, I think today was the first time I realized she's actually gorgeous. But when she told me that we were going to be married, and she gave me this Phoenix Heart…I was nervous, sure…but mostly I was just happy."

I stay silent as I set him down on his bed and tuck him in before kneeling down and continue to listen.

"I was happy because there's now something tangible that shows we like each other, not to mention we both told each other that we liked the idea of being married…is that what you and Mom felt? Or Philip and Mom?"

…Well that was simultaneously an extremely childish way of describing affection…but he also hit the nail on the head. On the downside, I can't really make fun of him now, the little squirt is being so painfully honest with me right now.

"You remember how me and your Mother met, right?"

He sleepily smiles and says, "Yah, you left Asgard in order to find strong people to test yourself against and ran into Mom by pure chance right?"

"That's the long and short of it, yah. And the fight itself wasn't anything special, your Mother mopped the floor with me in about 1 minute once she stopped fooling around. But do you want to know what I felt after such a humiliating defeat, after conquering every other foe before her no matter how powerful they were?"

I smile in reminiscence before continuing, Caine hanging onto every word with all the focus he can muster in his drowsy state.

"I felt free. Free, because I'd found someone who was so much more powerful than me that I felt I could spend the rest of my life chasing after them and never quite catch up. What's more, this person was a woman of such astonishing beauty and wit that, well…I was pretty much done for."

I grin at my Son before finishing with, "I decided that I wanted to wanted to devote my life to serving her, maybe one day surpassing her if at all possible. And do you know what she wanted from me?"

"What did she want Dad?"

"She didn't want the Norse warrior known as Hayden Geir…well, maybe she did, because your Dad is pretty cool after all, but what she actually wanted was a friend who wouldn't look up to her because of her status as a noble, or as the prodigy of the Valefor family, but because they admired her own personal strength and personality."

A glimmer of comprehension appears in Caine's eyes and I continue.

"It was much the same way with Philip. He didn't place her on some grand pedestal, if anything he was initially unimpressed with her before he realized she was actually quite intelligent and forward thinking."

Caine then whispers, "You both treated her as herself, not as Clarissa Valefor…"

"Exactly. Love can be different for every person. I love your Mother because I admire her strength, and the fact that she never lets her strength overshadow just how wonderful of a person she actually is. Philip loves her intelligence, as well as how willing she is to accept change and his quiet nature. She loves us because we treat her as our closest friend and confidant, not as some idea, some standard like others do."

I gently place my hand on my boy's shoulder and quietly say, "This is just my own opinion, and the way people love each other can change over time, but I think you and Ravel love each other for similar reasons. You're both the star children of your families and are expected to meet a certain bar when interacting with others. You can talk to each other without worry of what others might think, and that means alot, trust me."

I grin before finishing with, "And you both are mischievous little punks that can have a mean streak in you when you feel like it."

Caine chuckles before snuggling deeper into the blankets.

"Thanks Dad…that helps put things in perspective a little better. I'll see you tomorrow morning…"

I give him a quick kiss on the forehead and gently intone, "Good night kiddo, get a good rest, you've had a busy day."

I cast one quick glance over my shoulder before I leave the room and smile as I see my boy gently holding the Phoenix Heart to his chest, his breathing slow and peaceful.


Being suddenly awoken early in the morning when you're already tired kind of sucks.

"Caine…Master Caine! Please wake up!"

My eyes suddenly pop open as my senses start to get it together, wondering what the rush is. I blearily rub my eyes and ask, "What's going on? It's still early in the-"

"No time to explain, please hurry Master Caine!"

My eyes finally focus and I suddenly gape at the appearance of Shyan, my Mom's pawn, a young looking African woman with oddly colored white hair.

"Miss Shyan? What are you doing here? I thought you were away at your families-"

"I'll tell you later, hurry, put this on."

She tosses some sort of heavy black cloak at me and I give her a questioning look…until I notice the blood that's covering her and the slight gash in her side.

I immediately run to her side and hurriedly ask, "How did you get hurt?! Do you need to sit down, hold on let me go and get-"

She suddenly grab my shoulder and brings me to a halt, but there's a slight smile on her face as she quickly says, "I appreciate your concern Master Caine, but we have no time. Wear the cloak and follow me, it's your parent's orders."

I want to ask about 50 different things but my brain is starting to pick up on the fact that something serious is happening. Quickly donning the thing it hides most of my body and facial features before I rapidly follow Shyan out of my room.

I'm immediately assailed by the scent of smoke and burning wood, is there a house fire?

"2 ahead, get them!"

Shyan suddenly grabs me and forces me behind her, a snarl on her face. I peek around her and see three charging figures, their features obscured by a variety of hoods and plain grey masks with no features other than two eyeholes on them.

"Stay behind me!"

With those words Shyan drops into a fighting stance and waits for the 3 to get closer. The largest attacker barrels directly towards her, obviously hoping to just knock her out the way using his heavier mass. I bet he's real surprised when Shyan simply grabs the front of his shirt in a swift motion and uses his momentum to spin the both of them around before slamming him through the wall in a loud BANG of splintering wood and plaster. The other that had charged right alongside the larger fellow darts around Shyan, for some reason trying to get to me. I almost panic and trip over myself as I back away, but shouldn't have worried. The guy's momentum is suddenly cut short as Shyan's Sacred Gear, Hanging Thread, activates and wraps a softly glowing lasso of energy around his neck before tightening and crushing his neck, his own momentum killing him.

I breathe a sigh of relief…before Shyan suddenly gives a pained cry and pitches forward, a short sword buried through her gut by the 3rd assailant, who drives her to the ground with his blade still jammed in her innards.

"End of the line for you, you little bitch."

I won't pretend to be some crazy brave hero of the day. Heck, I won't even delude myself into thinking that I could probably take this guy if I had to fight him one-on-one.

But I am a quick thinker, sneaky, have an understanding of physics and like Miss Shyan alot.

No way am I letting her die here, especially after saving my hide.

I quickly flare my wings and forcefully push off the ground before flipping myself around in midair and landing feet first on the ceiling. While I can't yet form bladed weapons with my Shade like Mom can, I can make a pretty solid bludgeon with it. Rapidly compressing my shade into a half-meter long pitch black stick I kick off the ceiling and rocket towards the attacker who's still focused on keeping a desperately struggling Shyan pinned.

He understandably loses his focus once my improvised weapon connects with his skull with a resounding BONK. I hit the ground hard and roll away, hoping that attack at least knocked the guy out.

No such luck.

He staggers to his feet and fixes me with a murderous gaze…right before Shyan rams the sword that was previously stuck in her stomach through his heart.

With a wheeze he drops to the ground while Shyan unsteadily sways on her feet.

Ignoring the fact that I'm so scared and hopped up on adrenaline that I feel like peeing myself I run over to Shyan and frantically ask, "Are you ok?! Here, lean on my shoulder, I can help carry you-"

She quickly waves me off and stands straighter before replying, "We can worry once we're at our destination, now hurry!"

She quickly pushes me forward and we start running towards the back of the mansion where the library is. Before we get too far I hear her playfully whisper, "And thanks for distracting that guy back there. My little Hero."

I blush and we spend the next few minutes in silence until we arrive at our destination. As we round the corner we skid to a halt as 5 more of the unknown attackers show up at the same time as us.

"2 more spotted, kill them!"

Shyan growls and places herself in front of me one more time, but she's obviously feeling tired. I frantically look around as I try to find some weapon or piece of equipment that'll help keep Shyan alive but find nothing. I'm about to swallow my nervousness and stand right beside her when there's a sudden blur of movement and a sound not too dissimilar to a bat's wings on a dark night.

And then all 5 of the charging guy's collapse, their bodies falling in one direction, their heads in another.

"Caine! Shyan!"

I gasp in relief as I see my Mom come charging down the hall, her Shades coiling around her as she does so, one in particular retracting from the corpses of the 5 dead people.


I gasp in surprise as she gathers me in a bone crushing hug while she fiercely whispers, "I'm so glad you're safe…"

I return her hug briefly but quickly free myself and frantically say, "I'm ok thanks to Miss Shyan, she's really badly hurt, she got hurt when protecting me, and who are these people and why-"

She quickly put finger to my lips and replies, "I'm sorry Honey, but I don't have time to answer all of your questions now."

She looks to Shyan with open gratefulness and says, "I can't thank you enough Shyan, have you heard anything from the other Branches?"

I look back at Shyan and to my surprise she's no longer bleeding, and only seems slightly pale. She must have healed herself as she ran with me.

With a sigh she replies back to my Mom, "No contact as of yet. Given the way they hit where I was stationed at…well, I wouldn't hold out much hope."

Mom scowls before she abruptly stands up and guides the 2 of us into the library without another word. As we walk past all of the surrounding shelves Mom suddenly stops in front of a blank wall.

At least, it looked like a blank wall until a Shade detaches itself from said wall and rejoins Mom's shadow, revealing a door behind it.

"Inside, quickly."

As the 3 of us enter the room I notice a giant transport Magic Circle on the ground, but aside from that the room is largely barren. My observation is interrupted as Mom suddenly kneels down next to me and carefully holds my shoulders.

"Caine Valefor, I want you to listen to me very carefully."

I honestly feel more like crying, but shakily nod instead. Mom and Shyan are obviously going to be busy, they don't need to worry about me in addition to everything else.

"We're sending you to my Mother and Father's home until we can get everything sorted out, you'll be safe there. You remember Grandma Tiffania and Grandpa Fareth? Jonah was already sent on his way by your Fathers to Asgard, Hayden still has some friends and family there who are willing to look after him for a short while. With me so far?"

I nod. With a gentle smile she suddenly hands me a lockbox about the size of a large book, but is nowhere near as heavy.

"This container will only open for you Caine, since it reads your Magical signature. In it is several books and documents about our family and other subjects that you might need if…things go wrong."

I want to shout out that nothing can go wrong, because my Mom is unbeatable, but I manage to keep quiet.

A tear finally leaks out of her eyes and she softly says, "Just remember that we all love you Caine. While we never told you, you have a rare talent for the Valefor family powers that far surpasses mine. Never stop growing, never stop training, and you'll have made us all prouder than I could ever hope to describe in words."

As soon as she finishes the air itself seems to grow heavy, a surge of power causing me to gasp in surprise and fear.

The only 2 times I've felt power like this was once when Mom got serious during a spar against my Dads and when I asked Sirzechs to show me what his power was like…

With one last desperate hug Mom pushes me into the Magic Circle…

…and then with a flash of light I'm gone.

I gasp as I suddenly stumble out of the circle and try to get my bearings. Shaking my head in an attempt to clear it I look around the room and sigh in relief as I see Grandma Tiffania's head poking above a lounge chair.

"Grandma, I'm here! Have you heard anything, is everyone at home alrig-"

My words are cut off as I suddenly feel an oddly cold sensation from my belly. So cold, in fact, that I feel my strength largely slip away.


Slowly looking downward my eyes widen as I see a sword not unlike the one that stabbed Shyan coming out from me. What's most surprising is that it doesn't even hurt that much, it just feels…cold. Like 'I'll never be able to be warm again' cold.

I slowly look around and come face-to-face with another one of those masks just like the ones at home. With a smooth motion the guy pulls the sword out of my gut, and I stagger on suddenly weak legs as I feel a warm flood cover my lower legs.


Sounding strangely apologetic another voice says, "We had a tip off ahead of time kid. If it's any consolation, your folks here didn't even feel a thing."

With way more effort than should have been required I turn my head back around to see another hooded figure turn around the armchair. Now that I see the rest of her body, there's a large gaping hole where Grandma's heart should be, while a peaceful expression adorns her face.

"Like I said, quick and easy."

I suddenly drop to my knees and only feel emptiness.

…Why? Why us?

That same voice comes back, now loaded with disgust and sadness.

"For fuck's sake Lyas, hurry up and put the poor kid out of his misery would you? This isn't exactly fun to see."

The guy who stabbed me tiredly replies, "Right, sorry, was just thinking…Shit, I hope Rizevim knows what he's doing by pulling this stunt off, the Maous are gonna be out for blood after tonight, especially Sirzechs."

"Above our pay grade. Now shut up and finish this."

Cocking his sword behind his shoulder the man softly says, "Relax kid, this'll be quick, I promise."

I believe him…in fact, now that the reality that my entire family is almost certainly going to be dead come tomorrow is sinking in I almost welcome it.

…Except for one thing. That name I recognize. Rizevim Livan Lucifer. One of the strongest Devil's who was supposedly part of the Old Satan Faction, even if he never directly aided them. That same Old Satan Faction that Mom used to accuse the Crocell's of being partial too. Why is he doing this now, and why is he killing my family?

…I want answers. And I'll get them.

No matter what.

Fueled by terror and rage I suddenly dump as much Magic as I can into Ravel's Phoenix Heart. A roaring blue fire springs to life around me, causing startled exclamations from the other 2 and forcing them to back off while I use the last bit of my strength to roll onto the Magic Circle, not caring where it puts me, as long as it puts me somewhere else.

I pour the dregs of my Magic into it and with a sudden flash of light everything goes dark.


"Nya, this sucks! If it's not a bunch of hormone driven jerks trying to cop a feel on us then it's the security guys always trying to arrest us! So unfair, right Shirone?"

My adorable little sister merely gives a stoic nod as she quietly munches on a bag of chips stolen from a market not too long ago.

"Very unfair. They have so many snacks that never really sell, but they refuse to give us any…"

"Right, nya?"

I give an exhausted sigh and roll onto my back, trying to stretch out a few kinks that never really seem to go away these days. With a frown I inspect the sweater I'm currently wearing and realize Shirone and I are probably going to have to go clothes, 'shopping' sometime in the near future.

The loose sweatpants I'm wearing are full of raggedly patched holes, the tank top is already loosening around the seams and slowly unraveling while the sweatshirt is so thinly held together it doesn't provide much in the way of insulation.

Shirone's outfit isn't much better, her t-shirt and leggings torn in several places while her way too large jacket has 2 holes almost as big as my fist in the back.

…So what's new? Ever since Mom and Dad went ballistic after their Senjutsu practice drove them mad we've been living day by day. Heck, we've had to lay low in this forest for a few days now because our 'home' isn't exactly secure from angry shopkeepers and street thugs.

And those are the nice ones, the ones who'll just beat us up or arrest us if they get the chance.

It's the predators who are more interested in our bodies that worry me. Shirone and I can take, and dish out, a beating pretty well. It's the rapey stuff that makes me nervous.

Life in the big city known as Kalichi, a cesspool of Devils, Stray Devils, Fallen Angels, excommunicated Exorcists, enslaved Humans who found their way into the Underworld and plenty of other charming people who want nothing more than to make your life miserable.

I heave another long suffering sigh and decide that I might as well get a little Senjutsu practice in while we're surrounded by so much nature, maybe Shirone will even join me the time. She's been understandably hesitant about practicing Senjutsu for long periods of time, but if we want to survive we have to be strong.

"Hey, Shirone-"

I'm cut off as a sudden whoosh sounds throughout the clearing followed by the sound of several branches breaking that ends with the sound of a thud as something hits the ground.

The both of us are already on our feet, ears rapidly twitching as we try to identify if there's a threat. After a few minutes of nothing happening, as well as the sounds of the forest returning we relax slightly and head off in the direction of the noise, curious as to what happened.

I certainly wasn't expecting some boy, who looks to be about Shirone's age, lying in a heap on the forest floor.

"Well that's unexpected, nya."

Shirone nods slightly and looks up.

"He fell through the trees and broke alot of branches…an idiot who doesn't know how to fly?"

I briefly chuckle and move closer, only to have my chuckle die in my throat as I take stock of his injuries. While there's plenty of bruising, no doubt from his fall through the canopy, there's a nasty stab wound on his side that obviously came from some sort of bladed weapon.

A mystery man who fell from the sky with a stab wound on his side? That's trouble.

"C'mon Shirone, let's get out of here. Nothing good can come of this nya."

To my surprise instead of walking away with me she moves closer and quietly sniffs the boy, an odd look on her face.

I'm about to ask what she's doing when the boy's hand suddenly shoots out and grab's my little Shirone's wrist. She stiffens and recoils slightly which immediately causes me to switch into fight-or-flight mode.

Shirone does not like being physically touched so suddenly like that.

I snarl and move forward to kick him the head when she suddenly raises her free hand for me to stop. I'm so surprised that I almost miss the quiet wheeze that comes from the boy's throat.

"Please…I'll help you…if you…help…"

His hand slips out of Shirone's and falls to the ground, his breathing faint and wet. I frown violently and don't bother with my usual joking tone.

"Little Sis, we can't afford to have another person come along with us. Especially since he's heavily injured and might not even trust us if he does recover. Leave him be."

To my further chagrin she continues to stare at him for almost a minute before thankfully getting up and walking away. I give a relieved smile…until she grabs my sleeve and says, "Let's use Senjutsu. We can make a stretcher and carry him."

I give an irritated yowl and sharply ask, "Ok what's gotten into you?! You've never cared about anyone like this before, what's the big deal? And I thought you were against using Senjutsu?!"

She simply replies, "We won't have to use very much to simply make a stretcher of plants and roots. It's ok. And it's his eyes…they're like ours."

I hysterically scream, "That's your reason?! His stupid eyes?!"

I immediately march over to the kid and peel open his eyelids. While I'm initially startled at their striking color of deep crimson and bright green I curse to myself once I notice that they're glazed over.

He's unconscious.

I turn back to Shrine who's merely standing there calmly.

"…Please sis?"

I heave a defeated sigh. This is probably the first time since our parents died that Shirones ever asked for anything, and I'm not about to say no.

I glare at the kid behind me and quietly growl, "You better not hurt my Little Shirone, or you're gonna wish you'd died out here."

And that's the intro to 'King of Thieves and Shadows'!

I've been working on and off this story for a few months now, mostly just whenever the mood struck me, but the past few weeks I've been getting a little more into it and decided to actually make this into something that has a structure to it :D

Probably one of the things that got me most excited about this was describing the childhood of a natural born Devil (Growing up among parent's that just love to screw all the time and are supernatural beings must make for a pretty wild upbringing, and I hope I brought some of that across), and the culture of Kalichi, which I'll be diving into substantially in later chapters. It's gonna be like the Mos Eisley of anime.

Also, in case it wasn't pretty obvious, this is going to be A.U. and a few characters will be O.O.C. and put into different roles, although the core of their personality will be similar. Also this chapter takes place around 25 years before the first novel does, so like...1991? Whatever, we'll go with that, it's the 25 years that's important not the actual chronological year.

And since it's DxD it'll be a harem, although a more meaningful one based off of mutual affection (instead of the, 'want main protagonists D' kinda thing). Aside from Ravel, who Caine has a prior relationship with, it's going to be a gradual thing with the rest of the people he encounters.

Harem Members: Ravel, Shirone, Kuroka, Jeanne, a character I don't want to spoil yet, and...well, the last one is undecided quite honestly. They won't be introduced for awhile anyway so I'm curious if any readers have suggestions. I'm not averse to including characters from other media, although because I'm a power mad micromanaging bastard the final decision of who to include goes to me :D (If you list a character it'll help if you include what series they're from just in case I don't know of it)

That's about it then. I have a set upload schedule for a different story I'm working on right now that I'm going to keep, so this'll be updated pretty sporadically until I finish the other one and can focus on King of Thieves and Shadows.

Lemme know what you all think!

EDIT 01/25/17: I just went back and realized I never actually describe what this story is actually about (facepalm).

Put bluntly it's a story about supernatural gangs and crime. It's a love story. It's an action story. It has lighthearted moments. It has sex. It'll delve into the reality of just how harsh life can be sometimes.

It's my attempt at writing a story about how friendship and the simplest of desires can define people and shape the world.


Hope you're willing to overlook my self-aggrandizing there and stick around :D