I've not forgotten about Samuel and Eric, but a recent game and Thewyrm's story demanded this be written: Spoiler : This was pathetic. He had once been the Archangel of Agares, feared by all goodly nations. The Elohim had pleaded for peace with him. The brave Bannor were hesitant to even approach him. The Malakim had been chased back into their wretched desert on one of his whims. Hyborem had seemed unstoppable... until he made a single, terrible mistake. Hyborem struggled against the magical wards that imprisoned him in the center of the massive cavern, but it was to no avail. "Untie me, caitiff!" he screamed at the nearest Balor, a particularly gigantic brute. It would have been terrifying to a mortal, even with the pastel pink ribbon tied in its horns. Hyborem, however, easily dwarfed it. But that meant little, bound as he was. "Sorry. Misstress Keelyn said you needed a time out. Forever." With that, the Balor smiled. That bothered Hyborem more then his imprisonment; Balors weren't supposed to smile. Hyborem felt an odd feeling going through him. He couldn't quite name it, but it seemed somehow familiar. There was something about that brat Keelyn. Every demon she summoned came back somehow changed. Like the moron that stood guard over him. It had smiled. Hyborem had even heard it humming a song. That was another thing Balors didn't do, and yet one stood before him, humming... a Balseraph lullaby, no less. It wasn't even one of the Veil ones, but a pleasant little tune that even the Kuriotates wouldn't mind. A song about birds. Hyborem would have preferred it if the Balor had simply paid back the many abuses Hyborem had doubtless given to it. That was the way of Hell; even might Balors got beaten as bad as any mortal soul when Hyborem was in a bad mood. He would have expected the same of any creature that got the chance to return the favor, and yet this beast seemed not to realize the Archangel of Agares himself was rendered helpless before him. Maybe the idiot was betting on Hyborem's victory, and expecting favored treatment when both had returned to Hell. The Balor seemed stupid enough to try something like that, humming that pathetic little song. But if that was the case, why didn't it let him go? Was it just waiting, playing both sides? Just when Hyborem thought it couldn't get any worse, the door to his dungeon opened. "Hello, Hyborem. You've been a naughty demon, haven't you?" Hyborem's wards crackled as the raw power of his hatred burned at them, but most stood strong, and Keelyn nonchalantly repaired the few runes he had managed to destroy. How had she gotten so powerful? Some of the demons she summoned never returned. Had she... devoured their souls? Hyborem knew demons could devour mortal souls, but had Keelyn found a way to do the opposite? "You shouldn't take other people's stuff without asking. It's not nice." She seemed not to care that Hyborem was many times her size, or that were she to die, Hyborem would have countless lifetimes with her soul in Hell to avenge this insult. Lita had gotten off easy compared to what Hyborem had planned for Keelyn. He took comfort in this for a second, until remembering that, like her father, the brat merely stole a new body whenever her old one grew worn out. She could easily live forever, and spend eternity taunting him in this cave. Hyborem began to understand what Hell was like for mortals. He decided he would have to take out his rage on every Balseraph soul in Hell when he got the chance. "'Taking other people's stuff?' What are you talking about?" Hyborem asked, but he already knew Keelyn's answer. "You made all the people in Hexam take orders from you," she said, "when they were supposed to take orders from me. They were my people, and you stole them. So I took them back. Then I decided you needed to be punished." All those Bannor crusaders, Malakim fanatics, Ljosalfar soldiers... outdone by a girl's temper tantrum. Hyborem was somewhat amused by that. It would have been funnier if that girl didn't have him tied up like a mere mortal. Worse, an animal, waiting for slaughter. "Those people were mine to take!" Hyborem argued, since that seemed his best option. That didn't seem to affect Keelyn, so he tried rational argument. "They worshipped my lord, just as you do. Really, they belonged to Lord Agares all along. He was just letting you borrow them, and he decided that I could do better with them." Hyborem had hoped this simple, intentionally childish argument would make Keelyn free him for the few seconds needed to take her to Hell. For all her insanity and evil, her soul had that innocence that was so rare in Hell... there were many demons who would enjoy destroying it. But Keelyn ignored his argument. "If Agares wanted them to serve you, he could have told me so himself." Hyborem was tempted to try and explain the Compact and the Godswar, but he knew it would be no use. Keelyn wanted her cities like most children want their toys, and nobody would be allowed to take them. If Agares himself were to fly in and demand that she hand over so much as a border town, Hyborem suspected Keelyn would probably find the Godslayer and skewer him with it. Or have one of her many idiot, slavering demon henchmen do the job for her. Hyborem shook the thought. Agares would not be pleased to know his Archangel had imagined such. "Release me at once, mortal!" Hyborem said and then, realizing he was in no position to give orders, added, "my friends miss me. I want to play with them. I can take you to play with them, if you let me go." It was not technically a lie; he hadn't specified what he meant by "play." Keelyn smiled. "Sorry. You've been a naughty demon, and I'm too busy to play with your friends anyways. Besides, some of them are really mean. That is, until I teach them to be nice." Hyborem glanced at the Balor with the ribbon. Nice. What had she done to it? Was she planning on doing it to him? Would she make him wear a pink ribbon? Make him come to tea parties? Have him dance ballet? Another twinge of that odd emotion went through Hyborem. Hyborem sought an escape with his mind. There... one of the runes was weaker. The ones binding his body were incredibly strong, but that was only due to the weak state his body was in. Keelyn's lunatic soldiers had left his body near dead, but hadn't been foolish enough to finish the job. Instead they let Keelyn bind him, mind, body, and soul, to Erebus. His physical form had become his prison. But one of the runes, one guarding his mind... that one, he could break if he was careful. He focused on it, envisioning it slowly giving way to entropy. It fizzled out and died. He couldn't return to Hell, but he could at least extend his mind enough... he focused on the pink-ribboned idiot, seeking to return it to its true nature. He had often seen the minds of the Balors under him. They were full of hatred, of fury, and, although none would ever let any mortal know this, despair. The only way they could cure this despair, even temporarily, was to inflict it upon others. That was the way of Hell. Torturer and victim were no different; each, in time, would torture another, and each, in time, would be tortured. All Hyborem had to do was release that pent up despair in the Balor before him, and it would go mad, even by the standards of the fearsome Balors. It would be forevermore useless, but at least Hyborem would be freed. But he couldn't find it. As soon as he entered the Balor's mind he heard... that damned lullaby. Sung, as a mother sings to a child. "Look at all the birds fly... free up in the sky..." The once mighty Balor had been transformed, inside and out, into a hollow, happy, giggling puppet. It had been reduced to the mind of a small child, a small child in a demon's body. A child that had never felt hate or despair, who didn't even know what they were. Somehow, by some ritual horrifying even by the standards of Hell, its mind had been wiped clean and replaced by... a lullaby. A few simple emotions of Keelyn's choosing. Nothing more. As he heard that song, Hyborem felt another burst of that emotion. But now Hyborem recognized it. He should have known it all along. That emotion he had been feeling... was fear.