Kasandra watched with the rest of the room as the Four Horsemen made their way out. As soon as the door was closed behind them, everyone raised themselves from the bows they had been in and broke into groups. High ranking court members whispered into the ears of their allies and spies, the Nine Rulers quickly left the room to undoubtedly contrive some plan to take advantage of the situation. It was clear from the large amount of harsh whispers and general gesturing that everyone was in an uproar about this.
The Sins all shared a quick look before dispersing. Sheira and Morcan, two women you'd never want to anger based on the throwing knives strapped all over Envy’s body and the trident in Gluttony’s hand, wrapped arms around each other's waists’ and strode off into the crowd. Drake went up to a gathered group of low nobility and began speaking, no doubt attempting to gather information on the situation. Erik, looking all the world like a sweet little boy, ran off to do only he knew what. Adrut took a step back and transformed into an average looking servant, and headed to spy on the residents in the Great Hall.
With a sweet smile, Lust linked arms with Droca, the only other Sin still close to her. Pushing her generous chest closer to him, she gave an invitation to her bed. Not missing a beat, Greed gave a sultry smile to match hers and began to head out of the hall. To the rest of the room, it seemed normal. It was well known that sexual activities actually empowered Lust and it wasn’t unusual for one of her fellow Sins to indulge in her short, curvy frame and beautiful face.
After they stepped into a side hall, the braziers casting dancing shadows over the black and white marble walls and floor, the two immortals continued the act, even pressing closer as they whispered into each other's ears.
“Do you have any idea if this is true?” Kasandra began, her hands rubbing lazy circles on Droca’s exposed arm.
“If Thanatos says it’s true then it must be,”. Greed let his eyes drift down to the cleavage that Kasandra’s simple black tunic did nothing to hide.
“You take everything Thana says as truth now?” Her voice was dripping with mockery and even a little disappointment at her companions naivety.
“Don't be stupid,” he snapped. He lowered his voice even more as a servant walked past. “I would sooner listen to the sphinx from Anwir than Death. But, as much as he loved to play pranks, His Highness would tell at least his second the truth.”
Giving a small demon that walked by a suspicious look, Kasandra breathed, “I don’t know about that,”
Rolling his eyes, Droca gave an exasperated, “Come on Kas,” before she continued.
“Do you remember that time he got a bunch of shape shifters to look like the Nine Rulers and hanged them? He left their bodies in front of the castle gates and it took three days for the actual Rulers to speak up and say they were actually alive! Thana didn't know about that and it nearly sent Hell into chaos.”
Giving a weird look, Droca waited for her to realize what she had just said. With a huff she amended, “Ya, okay so Hell is always full of chaos because it’s Hell, but you know what I mean. I wouldn’t be surprised if Luc- I mean His Majesty faked his own death for shits and giggles.” Kas looked around to confirm they were alone as they turned a corner. It wasn't smart to be discussing something like this in the open. If working with Adrut had taught her anything it was that you are never safe from spies.
“We’ll see what Drake thinks about all this,” Kas felt Greed’s body shift as his free arm snaked out and grabbed something from a passing daemon with green skin and black tattoos. With an all too satisfied smirk, Droca dangled a diamond bracelet in front of Lust’s face before pocketing it.
With an amused snort Kas let her companion lead her to the small mansion that housed the Seven Deadly Sins of Hell. Taking the final turn that gave way to the outside path, the two took deep breaths, enjoying the red and gold trees that brought them to the dark wooden, 15 bedroom home that served as their private quarters.
Droca and Kas jumped to avoid the faulty step that led to a pit of lava not to far below to ground. The door opened with a loud creak, a defense to alert the Sins if someone enters. Markings writing in blood around the door flashed red and sent an alert to all the Sins that two forms had entered the building. Based on the alerts that had gone out earlier, four Sins had already arrived. The building that had been a gift from Lucifer upon their appointment of Colonels of Hell. And since they had moved in, they had turned the small mansion into an impenetrable fortress, including trap doors, hidden rooms, and magical alarm systems tied directly to the Sins blood and life force.
The dark wood continued inside the building to form long hallways that confused most people. There was no braziers or any other lighting on the walls as the Sins preferred the darkness that often enhanced their powers. Walking with a touch more relaxation, Lust and Greed took a series of turns that led them to stairs and doors and even more turns until they finally came upon a door that led to a staircase that went deeper underground than any of the previous ones.
The narrow staircase, littered with trip wires and more faulty steps, opened up to reveal a circular chamber filled with a long table and high backed chairs. The secret meeting chamber of the Sins revealed more about themselves than they probably realized. The table wasn’t circular like that in King Arthur's tale, instead it was long and square and the fact that only one head of the table was occupied revealed all outsiders needed to know about the rankings among the Seven Sins.
All the chairs were high backed with comfy padding, something Sloth and Greed had no doubt demanded. There was a bowl of pomegranates at each end of the table and glasses filled with different liquids in front of each person. Besides the table the only other thing that occupied the room was a small cabinet that was stocked with more drinks and pomegranates in the event they were to need a refill.
Taking her seat at Drake’s right, as he was seated at the head of the table it was clear what position he held to the Sins, Kas released her companion’s arm. Droca, took his seat on his commander's left. Morcan, with her clinking gold jewelry, slightly plumb and otherwise plain form took up Kas’s other side and Sheira, with her slim build and short, blond hair took up her place as the lowest female member of the Sins. On the other side of the table, Erik sat next to Droca, his swinging legs and bored expression said all he needed to to communicate his opinions of the situation. The seat next to him was empty.
A few minutes of silence later, Adrut finally entered and took his seat as the lowest ranking Sin next to Erik. Wrath, Lust, Gluttony, Envy, Greed, Pride, and finally Sloth. The Seven Deadly Sins of Hell were all assembled. The room vibrated with unseen power that few would dare oboes.
“How nice of you to bless us with your presence,” Kas said, the first to break the silence.
“I was covering up the disaster Erik made. I apologize if my tardiness offended you, oh great demon,” Adrut swirled his glass of ambrosia, not sounding apologetic at all, as Sheira’s head swung to that of Pride’s.
“What did you do this time you little fox?” Envy’s voice was full of undisguised distaste at the undoubted disaster Erik had caused.
Looking all the world like a cute little boy, Pride said with his most innocent face, “Why me? I would never do anything that would hurt people. I came here as soon as I could get away without being followed,” sadly, as was his nature, the kitsune couldn’t keep his face looking serious for long, and soon his mouth split to form a sly grin.
“What does it matter what he did?” Droca asked, draining his glass of the bitter wine he enjoyed. “He always makes disasters, this must be nothing different.”
“We don’t need attention being drawn to us, you fool,” Morcan snapped, her trident banging on the floor at her irritation. “With what just happened we will be the first people look to. We have to maintain a low profile.”
“Look who’s being a fool now,” Erik jumped in, his blue eyes flashing, “If we change our persona’s now it’ll draw more attention. We have to keep going like nothing’s changed or else people will really notice us. Me setting Medusa’s hair on fire is nothing new.”
“You set her hair on fire?!” Sheira shrieked in outrage, having hated the little fox that had continuously played pranks that had led to some serious damage to her hair and face that had taken forever to repair, this was just another thing that made her want to throw one of the knives even now strapped to her legs in his cute boyish face.
“Isn’t her hair made of snakes?” Morcan asked, her outrage at him drawing attention to them temporarily forgotten at her curiosity’s demand. Kasandra sat back in her chair, knowing from past experiences that it would take awhile for them to settle down and that she should just enjoy the show while it lasted. Besides, Sheira rarely spoke up this much and it was nice to see one of her friends get fired up.
“Yes, but snakes can still be set on fire,” Erik responded, sounding all the world like he was discussing the morning’s meal and not setting one of the Nine Rulers’ hair on fire.
The room fell quiet for a few more seconds as they all contemplated the image of Medusa running around with her hair on fire. The silence, however, did not last. With a shake of her head that resembled more like that of a cat’s instead of a kraken’s, Morcan began lecturing Erik again about how they needed to lie low, with Sheira joining in everyone now and again. Droca, however, took Pride’s side and soon the four were all arguing about the best way to “lay low” after the recent incident. It escalated quickly however and soon weapons began to be drawn.
“Come on you over grown squid, let’s see what your flailing can do.” Droca taunted, his spear that had been resting against his chair now in his hand as he stood up, sending his chair skirting backwards.
“Trust me, you stupid bird brain, I can do a lot more than you,” Morcan responded, her trident in her arm and ready to defend from any fire the phoenix might send her way.
“Enough!” Drake shouted, stopping the fight before it could really get started. “Sit down, all of you. We have work to do.” Envy and Pride, who had been ready to rip each other to pieces, sat down and took long sips of their blood filled cups. With huffs and a few more insults, Droca and Morcan relaxed as well. They had all been so focused on the fights and each other that none had noticed that Adrut, the one who had mentioned Erik’s prank in the first place, had stayed silent with a satisfied look for the past several minutes.
“Report,” Wrath ordered with a head jerk in Sloth’s direction.
With a small nod, the leshy began giving his report, and everyone around the table sat forward over the table to better hear what was happening. “First as for the minor happenings. Some of the minor nobility are wondering if one of the Rulers will take Lucifer’s place as king which would leave an opening in the ranks of the Nine. They’re hoping that if this were to occur they could bribe and suck up enough to whoever takes the throne that they could be appointed as a Ruler. Most of the minors have already begun sucking up and trying to manipulate the Nine in the event this would happen.”
“Unlikely,” Morcan pointed out.
“The Nine are too smart to be so easily manipulated,” Droca agreed. The rest of the group nodding.
“True,” Drake pointed out, “But the Rulers could find these minors useful for some plot of their own. We will need to watch them.”
“Of course commander,” Adrut then continued, “Next on to the Nine themselves. As far as I can tell, some have found that being named King wouldn’t be possible so they are currently forming plans to change the entire government system itself.”
“Explain” Kasandra ordered.
“They are hoping for a oligarchy. They believe if they can cause it to be government by a small group, which would be the Nine, then all the Rulers would have a say and would vote on issues. I’ve found that those who plan on causing this change are planning to do so with a few other Rulers. They all plan to betray each other eventually but as for right now, they need each other so they are working together.”
“A government ruled liked that would leave lots of room for one of the Nine to take control through threats and bribes.” Erik pointed out.
“They probably want that. They most likely think after this government is put into use they can take over and make whatever changes they want,” Morcan added as she contemplated the different ways such a thing could be played to any number of advantages.
Receiving a nod from Drake, Sloth went on with his report. “Next comes the Spirit Judges,” Sheira raised her eyebrows at that. The Spirit Judges were the three spirits that judged all spirits that entered the underworld and then decided what Realm they were sent to. They had little political power but were still an important part of the system on which Hell rested upon. “Caesar and Hitler seem to believe that they can use Lucifer’s death to their advantage. How, I don’t know. They were careful not to speak to much.
“And next, Thanatos and the Horsemen.” The Sins sat up straighter, they all knew the Horsemen were the biggest players in this game. “After the meeting in the Great Hall they went to the scene of the crime.”
“Where was it?” Drake asked, his voice lashing out without an ounce of hesitation.
“His bedroom.” Adrut answered easily, “I was unable to gain entrance to the room but I overheard some of the discussion. Apparently, his body was melted.”
“Melted?” Sheira asked in surprise. She shared a look with Morcan in wonder of how such a thing would occur.
“Melted,” Sloth confirmed. “From what I can gather they believe it was poison that caused this. They aren’t sure what kind of poison could affect one such as him but they believe poison or some potion of sorts to be the only possible way for him to be affected.”
“So he’s really dead? This isn’t just some prank?” Kasandra asked, still wondering if this was just some big joke on all of them. The King, after all, was known for his intense pranks. And faking his own death seemed like something he would do, just to see what would happen afterwards.
“Guessing on what I overheard, they have positively identified it as him. How, I couldn’t figure out.” The spy continued, now directing his attention at the head of the table, “They were just about to discuss their next plan of action when I received word about the Medusa incident,” most of the party members shot Erik glares that would’ve sent lesser creatures fleeing. He, however, could never have been more proud of his accomplishment that had caused even more chaos then he had planned.
“Anything else?” Wrath said, his voice taking on that somber quality it did when he wasn’t really paying attention because he was too busy contemplating the best course of action for him and his followers to take.
Knowing that no matter what he said, he wouldn’t get Drake’s attention again, Adrut shook his head and sat down. He knew that his part was finished and that, as the lowest ranking Sin, his opinions on the movements of each player didn’t matter. As such, he settled into his chair and simply sipped from his ambrosia filled glass with searching eyes and a blank expression.
Each Sin taking on contemplative looks, the room remained silent save for nails clicking against the tabletop and drinks being swirled in goblets. They all knew that one wrong move on their part could lead to them being killed. As powerful as they were, considering they each had another form that reflected what Sin and personality they had and these forms tended to be less humanoid and even more powerful, they could still be killed. They had to be careful what moves they made to help them get to their goal. Each of the Seven had their own wants but what was most important, what would put them on a specific path, was whatever their commander deemed their goal. And Drake hadn’t spoken yet so they all waited patiently for him to come to his own conclusion. All of them knew that these things couldn’t be rushed, so they waited, even as minutes ticked by in silence.
Finally, Drake stood and addressed his gathered comrades. “Eons ago, we were born from the intense emotions of Nyx. We were merely an afterthought to her, and those around her, back then.” A few of the Sins clenched their jaws at remembering what it was like to live in the mind of another, to have your very choices taken from you. “And after we took on solid forms, after we fed on her hatred and anger so much that we became our own creatures with our own emotions, we were still an afterthought. For years upon years upon years, we have been looked down on,” Drake’s voice became harsher as his own emotions and temper became harder for him to control. “We have been commanded to do the dirty work of nobilmen and Rulers alike. We have had to scrape and bow to lesser creature after lesser creature.” Drake took a breath here, pausing for what seemed to be an eternity before continuing.
“But no more. No. More. Lucifer, the master that has held on to us and commanded us for so long is gone. The Horsemen can’t control us, not when they’re too busy looking for Lucifer’s murderer. This is it. The perfect time to make our own moves. It’s time we break the collars that have so long kept us.” The eyes’ of the rest of the Sins were all bright and fierce. All of them picturing what it would be like to finally be free. “This Game of Hell has been played by nobility and Rulers and Horsemen for eons. And I think it’s time we joined in and played.”
His speech done, Drake waited. He, like the rest of them, had been a slave to a master, and as such had never forced a choice on them. They had chosen to follow him all these years. Wrath had proven himself time and time again and his leadership and powers were what made the other six follow him no matter what. So, even though they thought about all that he said, and all that it implied, they knew what they would say instantly.
Kasandra, the undisputed second and the one who had connected with each of the Sins personally, spoke for all of them. “So what’s the plan boss?” Something like relief flickered across his face but was soon replaced with cool calculation and a gleaming spark of excitement. And so, Drake, Dragon Sin of Wrath and commander of the Seven Deadly Sins, told them his plan. And at the end, they all shared a secret toast to their soon to be achieved freedom and a silent promise that they would never serve another master again.