Chapter 1

War is coming. Silas can feel it. Rather, the demon inside him can feel it. It buzzes through his soul, feeding off the growing discord as it brews around him. Other fiends like Silas, who live with demons inside them, can feel it too. They’ve all been whispering about how hard it has become to tame their demons. The witches, vessels for the magic of the divine, have even begun to notice. The seculars are blind to magic. To them it is a dead thing, yet even they seem to suspect that something is coming.

Silas ponders this all as he looks out the window over the filthy city below. Silas can feel the demon in his mind. Its presence would seem alien if it hadn’t been with him all his life. The demon reminds him to angry, simply because the rest of the world is. It has gotten greedy, and it longs to take him over completely. He pushes away from the window, needing to regain his sense of control. If he thinks about the outside world and the hate and the upcoming war, he triggers the demon. Often he doesn’t mind. In fact, he likes to feed of its energy. But if the demon gets too strong he’ll drink until he can’t stand up. He has work to do today, so he steps away from the window, moving into the bathroom. He stares into the mirror to study his own reflection.

He leans forward over the cracked basin of the bathroom sink, noticing the dark smudges under his own narrow eyes. If the demon is restless, he is restless. The dark brown, almost black, of his irises and the silky blackness of his hair accentuated the dark spots caused by his tiredness. He raises a hand to his smooth cheek, noticing the pallor that has come over his gold skin.

There’s a movement behind him and his eyes drift over, watching Malachai in the mirror as he approaches.

        “Silas.” A dark hand grips his upper arm, sudden and rough.

        Silas pulls back instinctively, but Malachai’s grip doesn’t budge.

“It’s rude to barge in when someone is in the bathroom.” Silas says with a smile, knowing it’s dangerous. Malachai’s moods are dark and sudden, like rain clouds which move swiftly to block out the light. If he’s in a good mood, he’ll laugh off Silas’ sass. If not…

His hand presses harder into Silas’ shoulder, making him hiss.

“I swear on the Flames, Silas.” He murmurs in Infernic, “I’ve never met another fiend who can talk back to me like you can.”

It’s true. Silas has realized by now that the inherently loyalty which plagues many fiends is absent inside him. He has suspected for a while that the demon inside of Malachai is high-ranking; So, every fiend with an inferior demon inside of them is instinctually obligated to obey. ]Silas, however, has never felt that obligation to Malachai, or any other fiend for that matter. He has wondered sometimes how powerful his demon is, if he doesn’t have to follow Malachai’s orders, but often he just chalks it up to his own rebellious attitude.

        “What do you want?” Silas asks when his attempt to pull away is unsuccessful.

        “You need to come with me today, to do something.”

        “Fine.” Silas tries to pull his arm away again. “It’s my job to do things for you.” Silas likes bragging about his job. He’s the second-most powerful person in the most powerful gang in the city. Making all the drug deliveries requires the fastest, strongest fiend of them all. His magic is stronger than Malachai’s, even, and they both know it. Malachai just has the knack for organizing and leading that Silas has never had.

        The lights in the bathroom flicker twice before Malachai answers. “This is different.” He pulls on Silas’ arm before letting go, and Silas follows him out of the bathroom to the saggy couch in the living room immediately adjacent. Malachai sits down on one side, his large frame making the couch sink down even further. Silas hovers a foot or so away, mostly because he doesn’t trust that couch to take any more weight, but also some other feeling he can’t quite put his finger on. His demon is upset, more than just the general uneasiness that has come over it recently. Whatever is going on, Malachai’s demon is unhappy about it, so Silas’ demon is unhappy about it.

Silas can feel a bruise forming where Malachai had gripped his arm. He could have used magic to heal it, but healing does not come naturally to him, and at some point he’d decided it wasn’t worth the effort. His back is still mottled with bruises. Malachai had thrown him into a table when he’d decided he was tired of hearing Silas’ voice. His temper is worse, recently, if that’s possible.

        Malachai waits for their eyes to connect and keeps his stare fixed on Silas with an intense concentration.

        “We need to visit someone different today. One of the dinks.”

        Silas frowns. Dink is just a rude way of saying witch. Sometimes they deal with secs, but only rarely. The demonic drugs they sell, Gauge, will kill most secs before they have a chance to get hooked like the fiends can. A witch? Asking for demonic drugs? He has never heard of anything like it.

        “Since when do you deal with witches?” Silas asks, drawing his long dark hair over one shoulder and running his fingers through the strands.

        Malachai sighs and shifts in his seat, causing the couch to give another strained noise of protest.

        “They aren’t looking for Gauge. They need help with some sort of ritual. Their magic isn’t strong enough, so they came crawling to me.”

        “Came crawling to us, you mean.”

        Malachai turns a dangerous eye his way, but is interrupted before he can say anything.

“I don’t like the sound of this, Malachai.” Violet stands on the last step of the staircase, eye-level with Silas thanks to the extra height the stair gives her. Her dark hair is cut straight across above her observant eyes. She is small, and quick, and sees everything.

“I don’t think we’ll need a spy, Violet.” Silas says, smirking at her.

“I’m just saying an extra set of eyes will help keep you two safe.”

“No, Violet. Trust is of the utmost importance here. If they catch you sneaking around, things could get nasty. Plus, they’re just dinks. I’m not expecting any trouble.”

        Silas smiles wryly. “Well, if there is, I can handle it.”

Violet can’t openly disobey an order from Silas or Malachai, her demon won’t let her, but she can keep pouting. She opens her mouth to do so, but Silas shoots her a dangerous look, and she simply frowns and turns to stomp up the stairs.

“So, when do we leave?” Silas asks, watching Violet as she leaves.

“Tonight.” Malachai stands from the couch and brushes past Silas, leaving him alone. He pulls on his long hair, watching the light start to fade outside the window and thinking of what will come with the night.

Silas has never seen a coven before in real life. He and Malachai had portaled to their destination, disappearing from inside the gang hideout and popping up in front of this stone building. It has a tall spire, with an image of the God and Goddess of this sect embracing at the tip. Ivy grows up the sides of the stone walls, and gardens surround the building. Malachai and Silas, both dressed entirely in black, don’t fit into the scene at all. It is exactly the effect they’d wanted.

“Hell’s Flames take me.” Malachai groans as he stares up at the mansion the coven lives in. “I never thought I’d end up here.” He shakes his head and looks over at Silas.

        Silas shrugs, “Well, you’re the one who accepted their offer.”

        He feels Malachai’s cold stare on him. “Don’t give me lip. Especially not now.”

Silas gives a little smile and shakes out each foot, popping out the wheels on the bottom of his shoes and skating up to the building. He hears Malachai groan in annoyance as he follows, walking. Silas pops the wheels back in and climbs up the stairs to the front door. He adjusts his leather jacket, making sure he looks intimidating, before ringing the doorbell and taking an appropriately casual slouching posture. Malachai takes a place besides him, standing upright with crossed arms. When the door opens Silas jolts upwards in surprise.

        He isn’t sure what he’d expected from a powerful witch, but it wasn’t what he gets. A dark-haired mystery in a black cloak? Long white hair and a walking stick? Dark red lips and a tight dress? He’d certainly expected a woman, knowing they run the covens. Instead the man he sees is young and…handsome. He pushes a lock of blonde curls out of his eyes and blinks. Silas sees that while one eye is pure brown, the other has a half-ring of brilliant blue.

        “Can I help you?” He asks, his eyes running over Silas, warily at first and then with a touch of something else. He shifts his gaze to Malachai and his eyes widen a little. Malachai looks much more intimidating than Silas does, and they all know it.

“The High Priestess sent for us.”

The witch frowns. “Our coven doesn’t do business with fiends.” He moves to pull the door shut.

        Silas flings an arm out, blocking the door’s path. “Forgive me…” he fixes his eyes on the witch. Their eyes meet. Silas thinks again how handsome the boy is.


        “River.” The name stays on Silas’ lips like the taste of sugar. “Forgive me, River, but surely you’re a bit too young to be in charge. Where is your High Priestess?”

        “We don’t keep secrets in the coven. If we’d had business with you, I would have known.” River’s voice is low and he moves to pull the door shut again.

This time Malachai shifts forward, grabbing the door and yanking it open. Silas hasn’t used any magic, and he can feel that Malachai hasn’t either. Nevertheless, a sense of fear blossoms in River’s mismatched eyes. He’s realizing how much Infernal magic can hurt him, should they decide to use it against him.

        “Fine.” River says after a shaky breath. “Come inside. I’ll get the High Priestess.”

        River leads them into a room with mint green walls and overstuffed white couches. The demon inside Silas stirs frantically at the potency of the divine power.

        “Any chance you can get me some of that finely aged wine I’m sure you have in your cellars?” Silas smiles as he settles onto a couch.

        Silas sees the corner of River’s mouth twitch up as he fights to contain a smile, but he says nothing. He turns to leave, and Silas can’t help craning his head to catch a glimpse of him as he leaves.

He looks over to Malachai, who is staring at him with a disgruntled look.

“That was not the diplomatic approach I was hoping for.” Malachai mutters in Infernic.

Silas smiles faintly at the place where River had left the room. “I would have been happy to flirt my way in, but you insisted on being intimidating.” He replies in their language

Malachai scowls but doesn’t say anything in return.

Silas’ eyes wander over the paintings on the walls. There are landscapes with rolling green hills that must have been imagined by the painter. Silas has never heard of a place with so much green and so little concrete. On another wall is a line of portraits. Most of them are of women with blonde hair and strong jawlines, all with black robes wrapped around their shoulders and exposing the top of their breasts. He knows enough about witches to guess these are the High Priestesses of this coven, going back to their founding mother, the first one who was touched by their god.

        The door opens, and he turns to see a woman who mirrors those portraits. She doesn’t look exactly like them, but there is an aura about her that matches theirs. She shares their blonde hair, and the cool look that leaves no doubt that she owns everything in this room.

        “My son told me you had arrived. I’m sorry if he treated you disrespectfully.” Her smile is warm but distant. Malachai stands to shake her hand, and she takes it firmly.

Silas stands, blinking dazedly. He knows covens are largely families, but he hadn’t expected River to be her son. A cousin, maybe, or something like that, but not her son.

        Silas reaches out to shake her hand as Malachai introduces him. He can see the similarities between them; the curly blonde hair, the strong jaw and the deep brown eyes. In the High Priestess the features are mature and wise, lacking the bright youth of River’s look.

The High Priestess settles herself on one of the couches, and Malachai and Silas sit back down. She eyes them for a moment before she speaks.

        “We need a tracking spell. The magic it requires is too nefarious to use my powers alone.”

So you’re perfectly happy disparaging us with your dink friends, but when you need a favor you come crawling. Silas thinks to himself, but he keeps his mouth shut.

He feels the demon inside him stir and wind itself closer, detecting a threat and protecting its territory.

        The High Priestess calls River. Silas sits up straighter and looks to the door. River appears, holding a large envelope. Silas’s eyes flicker to the pale color of River’s neck disappearing beneath the dark blue color of his shirt. He didn’t notice before, but the color of it makes the blue half of his right eye stand out vibrantly.

        “Is something wrong?” He hears the High Priestess’ voice, and realizes that River is standing in front of him, a hand holding the envelope outstretched in his direction.

        Silas says nothing, noticing an amused look in River’s eyes as he reaches up to take the envelope.

He was rude to us at the door, but he isn’t really like that. Silas thinks to himself, sensing a playful nature to the young witch. Silas looks to Malachai, who nods. He pulls the envelope open and uses his experience in the field to guesstimate the amount of cash inside. Finding it more generous than he was expecting, the demon in him purrs and almost forgets its discomfort. He doesn’t let his surprise show, pressing his lips into a thin line and giving Malachai a curt nod.

     “It seems like everything is in order.” Malachai smiles amicably as River tucks the envelope into a pocket inside his jacket. “We’ll be happy to assist you however we can.”

“Great.” The High Priestess stands, clasping her arms in front of herself  elegantly. She asks them to follow her as she glides out of the room. Malachai and Silas head after her, with River behind them. River doesn’t like feeling like he’s being escorted, and his mind is starting to go on a rampage about these fucking dinks when he turns to scowl at River and finds himself smiling instead. What is wrong with him? He hates witches. Why does he suddenly want to fuck one? River, to his surprise, smiles back as they walk down a hallway with walls painted dark green. Silas realizes he doesn’t just want to fuck the witch. No, he wants to make him smile wider and feel his pale body shaking against his own with laughter.

River glances around as if awoken from sleep. The smile he’d had on suddenly drops, and he regards Silas with empty eyes.

The smell of incense grows stronger as they make their way further down the hallway, becoming almost suffocating as they reach a large wooden door at the end of the hall. The High Priestess pulls it open to reveal a large staircase. Malachai and Silas make their way down behind her. The divinity in the incense isn’t strong enough to be dangerous to them, but it makes Silas’ eyes and nose tingle. Malachai in front of him lets out a string of sneezes.

The stairs open into a room with dark wooden floors and walls painted black. There are runic inscriptions painted over the door frame in a shimmering silver color, the only thing that keeps the room from feeling like a black hole. There are candles everywhere but, Silas observes, no electric lights. Mirrors are positioned around the room to maximize the effects of the candle light.

        “This is not what I expected.” Silas blurts out. It is much darker and more mystic than what he’d been anticipating.

        The High Priestess, standing at the opposite end of the room behind a long wooden table, turns to face them. She smiles without emotion. “We do normally practice outside, where we can be closest to our gods.”

        “I see,” Malachai slowly moves forward into the room. “I guess they would disapprove of this collaboration?”

        “This type of magic is not forbidden, by any means. If it was, I wouldn’t dream of working it.” The High Priestess replies as Silas and River come to stand at the table besides their respective leaders. “It is simply that it is considered distasteful by our gods, and is only to be used in the direst of circumstances and as far from their influence as possible.”

        Malachai nods, crossing his thick arms over his chest and looking around the room, candlelight shining on his dark skin. “Tell me what you need me to do, and we’ll affirm that your payment is adequate.”

Malachai is walking her through the formal steps of making a deal. It hadn’t occurred to Silas that these were particular to fiends until now.

        “I need a tracking spell, as I said before.” She’s watching River pull vials off a set of shelves and place them on the table.

“The secs are getting rowdy, and I fear a full-on revolution is coming soon.” She raised her hand to stop Malachai’s sarcastic remark. “Yes, obviously we are stronger than them. They have no magic at all. But there are more than them, a fact we are eager to forget, and we know nothing about them. Their world is a total mystery to us.”

        “Know your enemy” Silas mumbled.

        “Exactly.” The High Priestess replied. “And we don’t. At all.

“There’s something else coming, as well. Something demonic in origin.”

“We’ve noticed it.” Silas maintains eye contact with the priestess. “It feels…different from our demons…more hostile.”

“Wait, are you implying that these are somehow connected?” Malachai frowns, looking between the two of them.

        “I’m sure of it.” The High Priestess’ eyes fix on Malachai’s. “We’re hoping that we can find the leader of the secs, track them down, and question them relentlessly until they tell us what they know.

        Malachai takes a deep breath in and lets it out with a huff. “I’ve been hoping this will all blow over.” His eyes slide over the table. “So, what are we using to track them?”  

The High Priestess motions at River, who reaches into the shelves and pulls something out. He places a small vial on the table, the small clink sound is the only noise is the suddenly silent room. The vial is filled with dark liquid.

        Malachai nods. “Blood. Good. It’s best for tracking and will make our job easier. How did you acquire it?”

        The High Priestess taps on the table, each long finger tipped with a black-painted nail. “I don’t think answering such questions is necessary for your role in this task.”

        Malachai moves quickly, grabbing up the vial and holding it in a fist. The High Priestess and River both become very still, and River’s eyes open wide. Silas notices his lips parted slowly in shock, thinking about the texture of them. Malachai’s harsh voice snaps him back to reality.

“I would like to respect your privacy, Priestess, but the fact is that you just told me you have evidence that the demon we’ve noticed, whatever it is, is working with the secs and potentially coming after me and mine. So you’re going to tell me who this person is before I track them down for you.”

The High Priestess glances between Malachai’s face and the fist where he is clutching the vial. “Fine.” She works her mouth in frustration before continuing, “Her name is Josa. We believe she is high up in the organization of the rebellion. My daughter was doing business in the center of the city when Josa attacked her, seemingly with prior planning. Josa was no match for my daughter, of course, but she fled after getting hit a few times. My daughter used a spell to gather the blood Josa had left behind during the attack.

        Malachai nods. “Smart girl. But don’t you think she knows we can track her? She must know she left blood behind. She probably hasn’t gone back to her base, wherever it is.”

The High Priestess looks Malachai levelly in the eyes. “She attacked my daughter a month ago. She probably has assumed that we’ve already done whatever tracking we were planning on doing. Besides, there is a chance she might not know what we can do with her blood. She is a sec after all.”

Malachai nods, but doesn’t respond or let go of the vial of Josa’s blood. The silence stretches out, becoming tense.

The High Priestess smiles without emotion. “I will remind you that I’ve already paid you. I’m aware of the customs of your kind. I know there would be no greater dishonor than to deny me the service you owe me.”

        Malachai gives a little chuckle and places the vial back down on the table. In the laden silence the small clinking sound it makes seems loud. “I see no objection.” He glances at Silas, who nods and steps forward while Malachai backs away. The High Priestess eyes them suspiciously. Silas’ magic is stronger. However, he is also, in Malachai’s opinion at least, much more expendable.

The demon in him stirs violently in anticipation of the magic, and he looks at the High Priestess expectantly. River stands by her side, and Silas slides his eyes over to him. River, who had been looking at him, quickly looks away. Silas gives a small, crooked smile, and when River glances back to see that expression on his face he blushes deeply. The High Priestess seems oblivious to what is happening between them.

“First I will prepare the space for my magic, and then you will prepare it for yours.”

She closes her eyes and raises her hands, palms facing upwards toward the sky. She first calls upon the name of her patron god, and then summons various others to assist them with their spell. When she is done, Silas bows his head. He summons the demon within him, bringing it to the front and letting it take over to do the magic required. He lifts up his head and opens his eyes. The world is painted in shades of blue, as it always is when he calls the demon forth. He looks at the High Priestess standing across from him. In his eyes she appears too bright, almost painfully so.

“First I will chant a wisdom spell, then you will chant a tracking spell, and then we will say them both together.”

The High Priestess picks up the vial of blood and pulls out the stopper. She pours it into a small glass bowl, chanting the same few words over and over again. She then pushes the vial towards Silas. He picks it up and begins chanting in Infernic, the language of demons, as he pours it into another bowl. Then they pick the bowls of blood up and pour them into a larger one, chanting their spells in tandem. Silas can see the High Priestess growing pale, and notices the effects of fatigue coming over her that must be a result of the strength of his demon. Her magic barely touches him, barely harms him, with his demon in control like this.

The High Priestess crushes the vial in her hand and drops the broken shards into the bowl, blood from his own hand welling up and joining that of Josa. The High Priestess grimaces and unrolls a map on the table. She looks expectantly at Silas, who begins chanting again as he dips his fingers in the mixture of blood and broken glass and lets it drip onto the map.The High Priestess doesn’t touch the blood, but she chants as well. The sounds make an odd harmony. Strange as it seems to Silas, the sounds work together. After all, one cannot exist without the other.

Silas watches as the blood he’s splattered onto the map begins to move, converging towards a certain location.

Silas stands transfixed through a screen of blue. It is astounding magic, the two of them powerful on their own but even stronger together. The blood forms into a single droplet on one spot in the map. The old factory. What exactly it had produced, they didn’t know, but it was bigger than all the other abandoned industrial buildings around and thus stood out.

Silas frowns and dips a finger into the drop of blood on the map. He draws the finger into his mouth, then his body seizes as the world around him changes. He’s inside some sort of industrial warehouse, filled with people milling about, sleeping, some stood in a corner clearly planning something. There are words written on the wall. He stares at them, memorizing them before he feels a jolt of pain. He opens his eyes to find himself on his knees in front of the table. He blinks several times and pushes down the demon as the blueness of the world fades away.

A firm hand takes his arm, helping him rise up to his feet. He looks up, expecting the one holding him to be River, but it’s only Malachai.

“What did you see?” Malachai asks, steadying him on his feet.

“It was the abandoned factory, the one that the rebels are camped out in. It looked like they were planning something, but I couldn’t hear anything they were saying. I did see what was written on the walls though.”

“What was it?” The High Priestess asks, her face pale from the magic they’d worked.

        “Kill the witches. Topple the gods.” Silas says, locking eyes with River.

        River frowns. “Well, I certainly don’t like the sound of that.”

        They are all silent, standing around the map. Silas is more tired than he’d expected to be, and leans on Malachai heavily. Malachai is pissed about it, he can tell, but he isn’t about to yell at him in front of these refined witches.

       “What are we going to do now?” River asks.

        The High Priestess glares at him, “We will discuss it when they leave.”

        “Let’s get out of here, and stay out of their business.” Malachai says quietly in Infernic. “Something bad is coming, and I don’t want to be caught up in it when it finally does.”

        Two weeks after his meeting with the High Priestess, and River, Silas finds himself with nothing to do after a delivery. He realizes absently that he is not too far from River’s coven. He’d spent a lot of time these past two weeks thinking of the witch. In fact, the fiend he’d just delivered to had just propositioned him, and he had said no. The customer had been handsome too, dark-haired with a deep brown complexion that had made his smile seem brilliantly white. Two weeks and a day ago, a sexy fiend like that would have gotten his legs spread in thirty seconds flat.

He’d said no without even really thinking about it. River had been on his mind, as he’d been for two weeks, as he is now.

Silas swears under his breath and curses himself for his stupidity, but he sets off towards the coven anyways.

The coven isn’t as close as he’d thought. It isn’t close at all, really, but Silas isn’t stupid. He recognizes what had been wishful thinking when he sees it.

The coven looms above him. He stands in the shadow of a small building across the street from it, fighting the urge to bash his head into the brick wall. What, exactly, had he thought would happen? He isn’t going to just knock on the front door and ask to see River.

        Two guards flank the front door.Silas pushes his demon down further into himself, hoping to hide his presence from them.

On the periphery of his vision, he sees a flash of golden hair slip through the gate to the gardens at the side of the house. Without stopping to tell himself that this was definitely a bad idea, he heads towards the greenery. He hasn’t forgotten about the guards, so he slinks behind the building, crossing the street further down and stalking through shadows until he reaches the garden fence. While there is undoubtedly more guards around, he can tell with a quick glance that there are none nearby. There should be a magical barrier around the property, but it should only keep out those with bad intentions. Silas silently hopes that wanting to make out with the High Priestess’ son doesn’t count as a bad impression, takes a deep breath, and scales over the wall in a fluid motion. He lands in a crouch and remains still for a few beats of his frantically pumping heart. When there seems to be no reaction to his intrusion he straightens up. He brushes some dust off the front of his black shirt, running a few nervous fingers through his hair. He pushes down the thoughts that tell him how stupid he is being and how crazy this is. Picking through some pink flowers and pushing large leaves aside he finds that there is a clearing in the midst of all the plants. A large statue of this coven’s god stands there, arms held open in a gesture of love and acceptance.

        River kneels at the base of the statue, eyes closed, clearly deep in prayer or meditation. Silas hears his own breathing grow shallower as he stands perfectly still, watching River from his own spot in the foliage. His lips are pink and sweet as they move silently, and even from this distance Silas can see how his dark eyelashes cast shadows onto the perfect skin of his cheeks. He hesitates, stuck in the bushes. He doesn’t want to interrupt his prayer, but he also doesn’t want to be seen creeping in the bushes. The leaves rustle when he finally steps out from among the plants and make River look in his direction. He halts his prayer and scatters to his feet.

        “Silas? What are you doing here?” He asks with shock.

        Silas laughs, shoving his hands into his pockets and digging into the grass with his toe, “Honestly? I wanted to see you.” His heart pounds in his throat. He’s being too direct with his feelings, the way he always is when he’s nervous.

        River’s mouth makes a little “o” as he processes what Silas said. “Really?” He asks.

        Silas nods, smiling nervously.

        River smiles widely, but his face falls quickly into a look of worry as he glances around. His eyes linger on the statue of the god. “What if someone sees you here…with me?”

        Silas shrugs, “They won’t. The ability to sneak away unseen is one of the few perks of being a fiend.”

        River gives a little smile and steps closer to him. He’s different from the way he was with his mother. There’s more honesty about him, and more openness.  

        Silas gropes for something to say now that the high of sneaking in and finding River is starting to fade. “I’m sorry I interrupted.”

        River shrugs “It’s alright. My gods will understand. I spend most of all of my days talking to them, so I don’t think they’ll mind me taking some time to talk to you.”

        “Really? They’d approve of friendship with a fiend?”

        River moves to reply, looks at Silas nervously, and then speaks. “To be honest, sometimes I think that all these rules the High Priestesses invented aren’t really that important. They’re tradition, sure, but I love my gods and I feel them love me back. That’s what really matters to me.”

        Silas frowns, taking a step closer.

“Are there really that many rules?”

River turns around to face the statue of the god. Silas shifts closer to him. If he wanted to, he could lean forward and kiss the nape of River’s neck.

“According to the High Priestesses, when the mothers of our coven were chosen by our god, He also gave them a set of laws. They wrote it in our Book of Shadows. Now, whenever a Priestess has a vision, she adds it to the book, and it becomes one of our laws.”

“So basically they can just do whatever they want.”

River still faces away from Silas, but he can see the witch tense. Silas mentally criticizes himself. Witches and fiends have never gotten along. He should have known how a criticism from him would sound.

When River turns to face him, his eyebrows are furrowed, but he doesn’t look angry.

He shrugs. “Yeah, I guess they can do what they want. I trust the Priestesses though.”

Realizing he’s just insulted River’s mother, the High Priestess, Silas wants to say something. River doesn’t stop talking, though. It’s like he’s opened a floodgate and can’t keep the words from coming out.

“I believe most of it.” River’s eyes are fixed on something just over Silas’ shoulder. “But there are things in our Book of Shadows that scare me. I don’t think the gods care how often I pray to them. I don’t like to think I’ll suffer if I don’t pray enough. I think they care more about how I act towards the people around me.”

        Silas smiles. “It must be nice, to feel like the good things you do matter.”

        River frowns and cocks his head, “What do you mean?”

        Silas focuses his gaze on the ground. “The demon in me, it lives off of bad things. It’s always pulling on me, telling me to do more awful things.”  

River shifts closer to him, an unconscious striving for closeness..

“What…does it feel like?”

        “What does what feel like?” Silas whispers back. This close, he can see the dusting of freckles over the witch’s nose. He is surprised suddenly by how much he wants to kiss him. He’s never wanted to just kiss anyone before. He’s seen guys before he wants to fuck, never anyone other than fiends like him, and usually the demons inside them were so hungry that he always got what he wanted. River is a warlock, and a pretty one who maybe had never fucked before, and even though his demon begs him to just grab the blonde and throw him over a table, Silas just wants to kiss him.

        “What does it feel like to have a demon inside you?” River answers very quietly. His eyes search Silas’, perhaps looking for some trace of the demon there.

        Silas takes an unconscious step back, shocked by the intimacy of the question. River raises a hand to his mouth and turns away from him, back towards the imposing statue of the god.

Silas, over the initial shock, opens his mouth to attempt to answer, but how do you describe something that has been present since you were a child? He knows nothing besides having the demon in him, so how can he possibly describe it?

“They’re all different,” Silas begins. The hoarse sound of his voice surprises him and he clears his throat. “They live inside us and feed off the things we do, things your gods would consider sinful.But…” he hesitates, struggling to describe it. “It’s…I don’t know…they’re all different. My demon is happiest when I’m drinking and dancing with random guys out at the club-“

        “Guys?” River asks, the word sounded strange and strangled in his throat.

        Silas raises a dark and serious gave to River’s eyes. “Is that a problem?”

        River sputters, “Well…our gods say it’s one of the worst crimes you could commit. In the Book of Shadows it’s written that when a man lies with a man the gods cry, because they are robbed of more children on the earth.”

        Silas makes an incredulous noise. Fiends never make moral judgements against others. He’s heard that the witches have rules about this sort of thing, but..

      “I don’t know if I agree with them.” River rushes to say. “In the covens, women lie with women all the time, and nobody seems to care about that.”

        “So…do you think it’s wrong?”

        River’s eyes, one brown and the other half-blue, wander over the foliage around them, “I don’t know. When I was younger, I believed what the Book said. Now, as I’m older,” his eyes meet Silas’, “I’ve grown confused.”

        Silas’ eyebrows shoot up and he takes a step forward, reaching for River’s hand, “River-“

        “I should go.” River says, turning hurriedly from Silas and disappearing into the gardens.

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