In Serenity Manor
On the morning of Satan’s birthday, the day of the limited-edition market and secondhand book fair, we’re all sitting around breakfast pretty early. We want to be on time for the fair. Well, Leila mostly. Studious as she is, she wants to be there before the crowds are allowed on the RAD grounds so she can pick out the best magic books. Still she’s not rushing us. She takes her time for breakfast and caring for Pandora.
“Where’s Mammon, anyway?” Lucien mumbles around his mouthful. He swallows his food first, after a stern look from Leila, before he continues. “I thought he was looking forward so much to this fair?”
“Probably still asleep.” I shrug. “Mammon has a tendency to oversleep, as you know.” Lucien snickers and nods knowingly.
“If he’s not up in time, we’ll just go ahead and I’ll summon him to the Devildom once he’s ready.” Leila promises, not sounding very concerned. “Let’s enjoy a quiet breakfast…”
She’s barely finished speaking when Mammon comes storming into the dining room. “Whaddya think you’re doin’?!!” He shouts on the top of his lungs. “Now’s not the time to be stuffin’ your faces!” He declares passionately.
We all turn our heads and blink at him. Is he serious? All, except Pandora who lets out a series of very indignant sounding noises. I can almost tell what she’s trying to communicate: She’s not pleased with the way her uncle disturbed our peaceful morning.
“I completely agree, Pandora.” Leila calmly agrees with her daughter. “Mammon, sit down and eat your breakfast. We have plenty of time.”
In the Devildom
“Let me just...put this box down.” Belphegor already looks exhausted when we arrive at the courtyard of RAD University. Leila has teleported us directly to RAD, instead of us taking the portal that leads to the House of Lamentation.
It looks like they’ve all been put to work to bring out the selected books for selling from the Library to the stall. He smiles with lazy adoration at Leila as she’s already enthusiastically bouncing up to the RAD stall to browse the books.
“Are these all of the books RAD’s going to be selling at the fair?” She asks starry-eyed, scanning with her finger over the titles of the books inside Belphegor’s box. “Oh, there’s some good titles here…”
“Oh no, there’s tons left!” Asmodeus wraps her up in a hug after having hugged Lily. Making her drop the books about spell-crafting she’s already holding in her arms. “There’s still so many boxes inside.”
“Ugh, this is too much for a weak shut-in like me.” Leviathan complains, dropping off another box. But none of us are taking him seriously, remembering the enormous heavy box he recently brought to Serenity Manor.
Simeon comes walking up with his own box with books, placing them next to the other boxes still waiting to be unpacked. “Well, we found so many books that were suited for selling…”
He smiles, quickly helping an industrious Luke who almost topples over from his own heavy box that he brings from the school. “Ughh… this is heavy.” Luke sighs, then his face lights up in the sunniest way when he sees all of us. “You came!” He hugs Lily tightly. “You tell us if you start to feel too sick! We’ll get you home right away.” He then adds, with a short-lived frown of concern.
“Yes, try not to push yourself past your limits.” Simeon agrees, smoothing her hair and giving her an affectional pat. Leila and I have been told about Lily’s lack of tolerance to the Devildom but this will be our first time seeing it first hand.
Once all books have been brought out, they start setting up their stand. Satan is coordinating the whole thing together with Solomon. “So, we’re not forgetting anything, are we?” Lucifer asks them, as he oversees everything.
“Nope, we should be good to go.”
“All of you, good luck!” Lord Diavolo comes bounding over and I see Leila stiffen immediately. “I hope you manage to sell every last one of those!”
“Thank you and good luck.” Barbatos adds in his formal voice, nodding in a friendly way to Solomon and Leila too.
Then Lord Diavolo turns to Lily, spreading his arms. “Lily! I would like to invite you to come to the Castle and have some tea with me!” He wraps her up in a hug and almost already carries her off. That would really be a tactless thing to do, considering the company he is in, right now. “I want to show you the plans for a new greenhouse we’re building just for Human World plants. We’ve imported the soil and the atmosphere will be sealed with a completely-”
“My Lord…” Barbatos frowns disapprovingly.
But before he can say more, Lily luckily stands her ground, before her demonic brothers can get mad with their Lord. “That sounds very interesting but I don’t have time for that during this visit. I’m only here for the fair and Satan’s birthday.” She tells him firmly, yet in her gentle way as she maneuvers out of his embrace. “But I’m sure I’ll see you at Serenity Manor tonight for the birthday feast.”
“Right.” Satan is glaring, but still nods to Lily as she reminds him that Lucifer has invited their Lord to his birthday.. He doesn’t want to make a scene, but he does look a bit worried Leila’s way: Will she be able to handle that? “Well, see you later.” He tells him curtly, pulling Leila away to show her some more interesting books about magic.
“Satan, where should I put this book here?” Asmodeus holds up a large mysterious looking tome.
Satan looks up from trying to impress Leila and nods. “Oh, put that in the front if you could. It’ll be a good eyecatcher.”
“How about this one?” Luke asks, holding up a book that seems to growl from between the pages. I see Leila looking a bit worried at it, but Satan grins.
“Let’s wait until we’ve sold through some of our stock that’s already displayed on the shelves, so that it has a bit more space…” Okay, that doesn’t sound weird or ominous at all. Luke quickly put it down in it’s own box and I could swear it made a final snapping sound at him.
“We still haven’t finished setting up, and we already have a line of people waiting outside the gates.” Belphegor sighs tiredly. “RAD magic books are really popular, huh?” I have to stifle a giggle and turn a blind eye as he sneaks another book that she seemed interested in into Leila’s bottomless spelled bag when he thinks nobody's looking.
I don’t think she even notices herself as she’s looking over the titles with gleaming eyes, making notes of what she wants to buy as soon as the fair opens officially. It’s really cute how both he and Satan try their best to impress her. I see Solomon watching them half-amused, half worried as he’s shaking his head.
“Yeah, these books are from the RAD Library’s collection after all.” Satan has noticed and gives his brother a grin. “There are plenty of people who’d love one of these.”
“Oh, definitely!” Leila beams at them, holding up two books as she compares them. “I’m so glad we got here early so I could see them before it starts! I have a good idea of what I want to buy now…”
When the gates open a little later, a large number of people come straight for the RAD Library booth. “OMG! I feel so popular now!” Leviathan actually sounds more than a bit anxious, so I pat him comfortingly on his arm.
All seven of them have to work hard to man the RAD booth, even if they rotate turns. Mammon thinks it’s all very unfair. He needs to scour the grounds for bargains on the limited-edition items. “Yo, Beel!” He shouts impatiently. “How much longer is it gonna be before ya can give this customer their change?!”
“I can’t help it.” Beel defends himself. “Someone needs to come help me at the register!” I give Lucifer, who was so far not doing much else than overseeing his brothers, a certain look and he gives me that certain look back as he moves to assist Beel. The one that tries to say that he only does this for me but I’ll still be in his debt.
“We’re WAY too busy!” Mammon complains. “Where’d Solomon and Simeon run off to, huh?!”
“They only came along to help with setting up the booth.” Lucifer explains. “They’re out touring the fair right now.”
“What good are they then?!” Mammon huffs, receiving a stern glare from Leila. Haha! He really should know better by now than saying something like that.
“Lucifer, someone asked if we have the rest of the series this book is from…” Belphegor waves a book in the air in a disinterested way.
“No, if it’s not here we don’t have it.”
“Wait, Satan, what’s with all that stuff in your arms?” Asmodeus asks, looking impeccable but also a bit frazzled from the rush. “We’re too busy for you to start shopping now.”
“Oh these?” Satan shrugs. “These are gifts. From acquaintances mostly, although a few I didn’t even recognize..” He says with a slight frown as he tries to find a place to put them aside where they won’t be sold off. Or ‘misplaced’ by Mammon.
“Here I’ll carry them for you.” I tell him, offering him my own bottomless bag. He gives me an appreciative smile before dumping them in. I had almost forgotten just how popular Satan is.
“Ooh, it’s true. I saw it.” Leviathan nods. “They were in line with the customers, some of them just handed them to him like it was no big deal and walked off. It made me feel even MORE like I’m part of the popular crowd!”
“Man, your fans sure do love you..” Mammon grumbles as he rushes around to fill orders for customers.
“He’s not the only one with admirers.” I hear a familiar voice and I’m suddenly grabbed from behind in a hug, lifted off the ground and swung around in a circle as another familiar voice says. “Lily! It’s been forever. We thought you forgot about us.”
“Phe, put me down.” I demand with a giggle. “I think I might be sick.”
“Oy! Oy!” Mammon drops the book he’s holding, Lucifer catches it before it hits the ground with a glare our way. “Whaddya think you’re doin’?!
Whew. That made me a little dizzy and slightly nauseous. I smile at Mammon as soon as I’ve got my bearings, putting a reassuring hand on his arm. Even though I warned him ahead of time who my friends in the Devildom are, it’s still probably difficult for him to get used to. It’s not as if my own Mammon ever cared for it anyway. But my new Mammon seems to treat me as if I’m made of glass, sometimes. I noticed that ever since he started to live back with us at Serenity Manor. I just hope it’s not because we slept together. I don’t want him to treat me differently than Leila or James because of that.
“Come now, Mammon. No need to get possessive between friends.” Mephisto mocks with a teasing smile. “We’re actually here to see Satan too, running into Lily was just a bonus.” I shake my head at them with a roll of my eyes but give them all a hug in greeting anyway.
“Congratulations on another year.” Stolas bobs his head and extends another gift to Satan. “From the three of us.” Satan accepts the gift graciously and drops it into my bag with the others.
Then I notice James looking a bit bewildered. Of course he knows these demons probably just as well as I do, but he can’t just go and greet them, like he’s used to. They don’t know HIM yet.
“Oh, my manners.” I reprimanded myself. “Everyone, this is James, one of my dear friends.” James shakes their hands with a grin, probably making instant friends with them as they clap him on the shoulders. “Oh and I should introduce you to Leila…”
I look around and don’t see her at first until I’ve spotted her sitting on the grass with her nose in a book already. I know she’s not a big fan of demons outside our family but I think she’ll like Stolas and Phoenix well enough, can’t say for sure about Mephisto. Haha!
“Hey Leila.” I call out to her. I notice Satan follows us, he’s probably not thrilled with the idea of me introducing Leila to more males but I really don’t think he has anything to worry about.
“Is something the matter?” Leila asks as she peeks up at me and James and the entourage of demons following us. Oh good, she wasn’t too far gone in her book yet. Heh. Warily she stands up to meet us.
“I wanted you to meet some friends of mine-” I begin to tell her but am cut off by Phoenix.
“So this is Leila? Solomon’s mysterious granddaughter?” He grins, unabashedly checking Leila out. “Your reputation precedes you milady. Solomon was spare with details but Astaroth was kind enough to tell us more. Yet he didn’t tell us that I could write songs and sonnets for a lifetime and not fully describe your beauty.”
Hearing that, Leila’s eyebrows rise so comically high that I laugh, also to try to cover up Satan’s growl. “You’re so cheesy Phe.” I roll my eyes. “Leila won’t give you the time of day so you can drop the poet act.”
Phoenix gasps. “You wound me flower.”
“Hello.” Leila smiles politely. I see her looking over to James to see what he thinks of these demons and she relaxes a little more when she sees him looking relaxed around them. “Nice to meet you.” She tells them with a sweeter smile and I also see her inconspicuously glancing at her Ring of Souls as she shakes their hands. I guess that’s her proces. Her ‘curse’, as she calls it.
“Charmed.” Mephisto winks and gives Leila and James one of his signature smiles.
“A pleasure.” Stolas gives a little bow.
“What did Astaroth say?” I ask, mildly curious, after I have introduced each demon. Earning smirks from Phoenix and Mephisto.
“Well… First we happened to walk in on him changing and saw the tiny scar you left on his shoulder.” Mephisto gives me one of those journalistic looks of his. I feel a little guilty and a little satisfied by that news. But seriously, don’t demons even know how to knock on doors? I can see from Leila’s face that she thinks the same.
“So naturally we annoyed him until he divulged details just to get us to go away.” Phoenix snickers.
“He said he wouldn’t be surprised if Solomon’s granddaughter surpassed Solomon himself in the not too distant future.” Stolas adds, and I see the way he appraises her and the books she has out. No doubt he’d want to engage her in some scholarly debate if Satan hadn’t anchored himself next to her like some surly bodyguard.
“High praise and rare admission from Astaroth.” Solomon’s voice makes everyone, except Leila - who smiles proudly - and Satan, flinch in surprise. They must have seen him walking up behind us. I turn to see that he has that proud sparkle in his eye for his granddaughter.
“Speaking of rumours.” Mephisto drawls with a raised brow after Stolas and Phoenix greet Solomon. “I heard you two broke off your engagement.That you slept with Mammon… but I see you’re wearing a ring so..” he shrugs.
“Oh wow, that’s so insensitive.” Leila gives him a glare and she casts some sort of curse on him that makes him seem tongue tied for a moment. James wraps his arm around me in comfort.
“Mmrphh Urrffggghh” Mephisto’s eyes widen in shock as he tries to speak. In normal circumstances I’d be laughing my butt off, it’s an appropriate curse for a demon like Mephisto who loves to hear himself talk. Phoenix does all the laughing for me instead.
“Stolas, why don’t you escort your friends somewhere where they can’t make trouble.” Solomon commands with a sigh.
“My apologies.” Stolas gives us a little bow before roughly shoving Mephistopheles in the other direction.
“I better go see if they need help at the stall.” I say dryly before turning tail and escaping the situation like a coward.
“What? Did I hit a sore subject? OW! Stolas that hurts!” I hear Mephisto complain in a snobbish tone, Leila’s punishment spell already worn off.
“Freaking idiots.” I hear Satan growl.
“Oy! Are you alright?” Mammon asks me as I mindlessly start straightening books.
“Yep. Fine.” I lie to him with my best smile. I look over my shoulder and see Satan walking back this way after our friends have left, leaving Leila with James and Solomon.
“Seems like things have slowed down.” Satan notes as he returns to the stall.
“Satan, you should use this chance to roam around. Take Lily with you.” Belphegor suggests.
“Wha? Why him?” Mammon exclaims.
“It’s his birthday, duh.” Belphegor yawns.
“Well, If we have too..” Leviathan says and I start to feel a bit guilty of leaving him behind.
But Asmo grabs my hand and pulls me over to Satan. “Satan, you can have our flower all to yourself for a while. But only because it’s a special occasion!”
“No, he can’t! That’s not fair!” Mammon protests again on deaf ears.
“Mammon, you’re manning the booth.” Lucifer tells his brother sternly.
“But I don’t wanna!” Mammon shouts. “I gotta find me some good bargains and-” He’s interrupted by Lucifer, who practically grabs him by the scruff and puts him in the booth. “Ow!”
“Let’s go Lily.” Satan tugs on my arm with a happy smile and off we go.
“Look at this, Lily! It’s a first-edition copy of Delving into the Writing Systems of the Devildom: Research and Findings! I’ve been looking for one of these forever!” Satan shows me the volume excitedly. I love my brothers, I know they noticed I was upset and tried to help, even if Satan would probably be in better company out here with Leila. I love to read, but not as much as those two. But seeing Satan so delighted has me smiling for real again. “And here we have, Introduction to Magic Herbology ! This is out of print! I never thought I’d find a book like this here!” He exclaims next.
“Oh?” I perk up, he’s finally mentioned a title that has my interest. “I’d like a peek at that too, I’ll buy it for you if you let me borrow it.”
“Sure.” He nods, smiling and patting me on the head absentmindedly like the little sister he sees me as. “What do I do? I want every one of these. Every last one!” He laughs. ”What about you? Are there any other books you’re interested in?”
I shrug. “Maybe a fantasy adventure…something with NO romance.” I say as I roll my eyes.
Satan chuckles and wraps his arm around my shoulders after we’ve made our purchases at this specific stall. “I think there’s a few I can recommend. Let’s go look for them.”
We stop at the next booth and Satan has been going on about a book called ‘ Final Destruction Fantasia’ for a while now. It’s one thing he has in common with Levi, but at least in Satan’s case, I understand the majority of what he’s saying. I half listen and half browse the books in front of me when I spy something interesting. The book pages seem to be faintly glowing around the edges.
I’m reaching for it when I hear Satan stop chattering for a moment to say, “Lily, wait! That book is..-” Too late, I’ve already touched the book. A bright light enfolds us and I sigh. I really never learn, do I?
“..Lily.” I hear someone call my name and I blink slowly as my blurry vision clears.
Satan has a concerned look on his face. “Where are we?” I ask, looking around it seems as if we’re on a train.
Satan looks around too. “It reminds me of the train we took from London, remember?”
“Of course, how could I forget? Even if it does seem like a lifetime ago now…” I look back to Satan who shakes his head, smiling.
“You humans have an odd perception of time.” He teases, ruffling my hair.
“But why are we here?” I wonder aloud.
“You remember touching that glowing book at the bookfair, right?” He continues after I nod. “That wasn’t just any book. It was a particularly troublesome one. If you touch it, you get pulled into another world. One created by the book itself. I’m not sure what sort of story it is, but..”
“Don’t look so worried.” I tease. “Let’s start by having a look around, we’ve gotten through worse situations haven’t we?”
“I’m not worried.” Satan glares at me, following closely. Hehe. “Look! It’s Belphie, and Beel’s with him.”
“Huh. Do you think they were sucked in too?” I wonder, they weren’t anywhere near us at the bookfair.
“One way to find out.” He says in a hushed voice to me before shouting. “Hey, Belphie! Beel!”
“Ahh! Finally found you!” Belphegor smiles.
“What’s the guest of honor doing all the way over here anyway?” Beel grumbles. “We’ve been looking all over for you. Come on.”
Satan and I exchange a look as we follow behind. There’s just something a bit off about them. “I think anyone else in here besides you and I are just figments of the book. Let’s play along so we can see what sort of book we’re in.”
The next train car we enter has our whole family present, including Lucien and Pandora which we know can’t be right. “Happy Birthday Satan!” Everyone cheers. Asmo has popped some champagne and starts pouring it for a toast.
“Happy Birthday Satan.” Lucifer beams at him proudly. “Let’s start with a toast, here, we have some of the best demonus money can buy.” I can’t help rolling my eyes with a laugh, they can’t even get it straight in this book world.
“Happy Birthday, dear!” Leila flies her arms around his neck, giving him a big smooch. I blink in surprise almost as wide as Satan does. Sure, I’ve seen the real Leila kiss her Satan lots of times but these are different circumstances.
“What’s going on Leila?” Satan asks with an adorable blush. I notice he can’t quite let her go, holding her hesitantly against him.
“What?” Leila smiles coyly. “Can’t I give my fiance a birthday kiss?” Satan’s eyes widen even more and his blush deepens, as he starts to smile. That must have sounded like music to his ears!
“You’ll have some cake won’t you?” Leviathan interrupts, thrusting a large slice towards him. Now he has to reluctantly let Leila go.
“So Mammon, what’s going on?” I ask, trying to get some more info while Satan is still flustered.
“What? You don’t remember?” Mammon asks me, not talking like his usual self at all. ”This was your idea after all, little sister, to charter a train to celebrate Satan’s birthday.”
Well that much I had figured out, but it doesn’t tell me anything about what book we’re in. But Satan is tugging on my sleeve. “Lily, I need to speak with you for a moment.” He tells me, looking suddenly very serious, as we excuse ourselves into the next train car for privacy.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, seeing how worried he is again. “Did you figure out what book we’re in?”
“Yes, this is bad Lily.” He shakes his head with a scowl. “It seems we’re in a mystery novel, one famous in the Devildom. I’m the main character. The whole family throws a birthday party for me and then we enjoy a scenic train ride to celebrate my recent engagement, which the book has cast as Leila…” he sighs.
“That doesn’t sound terrible..” I begin to say. If anything, I thought he’d be thrilled to pretend to be Leila’s fiance, but something is clearly bothering him, so I don’t tease.
“No you don’t understand.” Satan continues to explain. “The book pulls from our memories and subconscious minds and right before we came in here, you said you didn’t want to read a romance.” I’m wondering what that has to do with anything when he finishes his explanation before I can ask. “In this book the fiance is murdered and the main character and his family solve the crime.”
“Ooh I see.” I say, but I’m still not sure what he’s so worried about. “Well I guess it’s good that’s not the real Leila in there anyway then. Right?”
Satan sighs and frowns. “Still, I didn’t want to spend my birthday watching the woman I love murdered, even if it’s not real.” He says softly.
“Oh..Satan..” His words hit my heart like a dagger. I know exactly how that feels, after all. “Of course, who would?” I wrap him up in a hug. We’ve all seen too much death lately.
“If that wasn’t bad enough, the culprit is the sister who is played by you and the main character kills her at the end of the book in a blind rage.”
“Wow. Dark.” I mutter. If I wasn’t motivated to find a way out of this book I certainly am now. I’m not sticking around to kill Leila and then be murdered by my brother.
He continues with a serious frown. “I know I would be capable of it, if anyone harms Leila… Even if this is just a story and I really love you too, Lily… I don’t like to see that scenario playing out either.”
“Yeah, let’s not let it get that far.” I agree wholeheartedly, giving him a hug.
“I have an idea that might work, play along will you?” I nod just as Satan’s fiance, played by fake Leila, enters the train car with us. She’s holding Pandora but passes her off to me.
“Your baby was fussing, so I brought her to you.” She tells me smiling, and while I’m processing the ‘fact’ that I’m suddenly apparently a parent, she’s already turning her adoring eyes on Satan, entwining her fingers with his and guiding him back to where everyone else is waiting. I follow closely behind, with ‘my’ baby.
Satan wastes no time in giving a toast. “Everyone, I’d like to thank you for throwing such a fantastic birthday party for me. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than having you all here to celebrate the start of Leila and I’s life together.” I watch as he blushes, looking into Leila’s eyes. Deeply affected even though we all know it’s not really Leila. “Leila, I love you. Truly, deeply...and forever.”
‘Leila’ is swooning and snuggles herself into his arms. “I love you too, Satan.” She tells him, before kissing him again, much more passionate this time.
I blink back some tears. Well if this wasn’t supposed to be a romance novel, it certainly is now! When they finally break apart, I watch as all his brothers, even Belphie of course, wish them both the best.
Eventually Satan and I manage to get a little moment alone again, as everyone is busy with some kind of discussion of what Leila should wear on her wedding day. I honestly would like to join that conversation, but first things first. “Was that your plan?” I whisper to Satan, when I see him still beaming.
“In the real world it wouldn’t be so simple. I just wanted to experience what it would be like for everyone to be happy for us.” He confesses with a blush.
“I know it won’t be as simple as this.” I tell him tearfully. “But I really do want you to find your happiness, hopefully with Leila.”
“Thank you Lily, that means the world to me.” Satan wraps me up in a big hug as a bright white light enfolds us again, returning us to the real world.
“We’re back! That was easier than expected.” I exclaim, happy to be back at the bookfair.
“The secret is to do something different than what your character does in the original story.” He confides with a smile, before shaking his head at me with a sigh and gives me a stern look. “You know the Devildom Secondhand Bookfair isn’t like the RAD library, it’s not safe to just go around touching random books. You should be more careful.”
Yeah, He’s right. But I still roll my eyes at him. He’s lucky it’s his birthday and I don’t compare him to Lucifer right now. “Got it.” I say, giving him a cheeky grin.
“Good.” He ruffles my hair. “Now if you see something that catches your eye, just tell me first.” I only give him a salute in response and we both start laughing. “Okay, but before we go. I’m going to buy that glowing book and its matching mystery novel. It’s actually a pretty good read, I’ll lend it to you sometime.”
“Sure.” I nod along, even though really, after that, I don’t think it’s a book I’d like to read.
“Lily! Satan!” We stop as we hear Solomon call out to us. It’s been easier to be around him since we’ve been working together so often for the Society, but it’s still hard to hear that familiar voice calling my name just a little different than I was used to... Luke and Simeon are with him and they start telling us about how many books our booth has already sold.
Then Solomon gets a look at some of the books Satan has opted to carry instead of putting in my bag. He didn’t want anyone rummaging around carelessly and accidentally triggering that book again..
”That book! I don’t believe it. That book you’re holding, Satan...” Solomon seems to look a little concerned, though he hides it well.
“Oh, the glowing one?” Satan asks. “Lily and I actually ended up in a pretty messed up situation thanks to this thing.”
“You did? Do you think I could have that?!” Solomon says quickly.
“Huh?” Satan and I both say at the same time.
“That book is the main reason I came to the bookfair today. I was hoping to find that exact volume!”
But Satan shakes his head and gives Solomon a stern look. “Not happening, Solomon. I want this book for myself.”
“I’ll pay you double what you paid for it.” Solomon generously offers.
“Tch!” Satan scoffs. “Who do you think I am? Mammon?”
“There must be some way I can change your mind.” Solomon insists. I wonder why he wants the book so much?
Then Simeon suggests a quiz competition. We run into Levi and they wrangle him into helping and reading off the questions. At first Satan was winning by a landslide until he called out Levi for reading off titles that give Satan an unfair advantage. I thought it was cute that Levi wanted to help his brother even if it was cheating. It was even more admirable the way Satan insisted on a fair game. In the end Satan still won and Solomon was a good sport about the whole thing. I don’t think anyone else notices but he did seem pretty bummed about not getting his hands on that book. I have a feeling it won’t be the last we hear about it.
We see Satan, Levi, Solomon and Lily come walking back to the RAD booth laughing and joking about something. Satan looks approvingly to the shelves and tables: most of them are already half empty. And no, not all books went into Leila’s bottomless bag. Though she’s still sitting a bit away from the crowd in the grass, surrounded by her purchases, reading with a smile on her face. Ignoring any and all demons or humans trying to get her attention. “We sold a ton of books today, huh?” He grins.
“Yeah…” Belphegor slouches over one of the display tables. “I’m tired…” I know he still keeps an eye on Leila, like all of the brothers do.
“We’ve already sold most of what we had.” Asmodeus gives them an update. “We’re having a bit of a break now-”
“AAAAHH!” He’s being interrupted by Mammon’s loud obnoxious cry. We all watch in surprise as he frantically starts looking for something in the RAD booth. “Nonononono!”
“Hey!” Leviathan pushes his brother away from him, when he comes too close. “Don’t shout into my ear!”
“Mammon, stop being so loud.” Leila admonishes from her spot in the grass, barely looking up from her book.
“I can’t help it!” Mammon defends himself. “Somethin’s happened that’s worth screamin’ about, okay?!”
“What’s wrong?” I ask, trying to calm him down.
“Y’know that one book that we WEREN’T s’posed to sell?” Mammon whispers loudly to his brothers. “It’s about THAT!”
“What?!” Asmodeus looks shocked.
“A book we weren’t supposed to sell.” Leviathan has forgotten all about being annoyed with Mammon’s loudness. “Please don’t say it’s what I think it is! That’s NOT good!”
“Did we sell it by accident?”
“I-I dunno…” Mammon looks nervous, as if someone might blame him for doing just that.
“Okay, calm down.” Satan looks ready to solve this mystery. “What sort of book was it, exactly?”
They all avoid his gaze. “That’s sort of hard to explain…”
“Well, standing here panicking isn’t going to help things, is it?” Lucifer tells them all to start searching for the mysterious ‘hard-to-explain-book-that-can’t-be-sold’. Everyone teams up to search. The twins with Mammon, Lily with Leviathan, Asmodeus on his own and Lucifer stays behind to watch the booth. All have soon mingled in the crowd, except Leila, who still sits on her blanket in the grass amidst her books. Solomon sits with her, inspecting her purchases.
Satan looks after his brothers spreading out over the fairgrounds. “...Hmm, why don’t we go look for it too, James?” He asks, after having made sure that Leila would be safe enough alone with her grandfather.
We jog up after Asmo, who is closest by. “Asmo, can you tell me what sort of book it is? Or at the very least, what does it look like?”
“Umm, well…” Asmodeus taps his lips in thought. “The cover looks sort of like a child scribbled all over it? Ooh, but the design is amazing!” Well, that’s not helpful… “But don’t worry! I’m sure we can find it!” He smooches a kiss on Satan’s cheek and before he can protest about it, Asmodeus has already skipped away.
Suffice to say we couldn’t find a book with a vague description like that to go on. When we return to where the RAD booth is, we see Mammon and Lucifer into some sort of heated discussion. A little further away Asmodeus sits with Leila and Solomon, laughing and talking. It doesn’t look like looking for the mysterious book is that important to him.
“Calm down, Mammon.” Lucifer tells Mammon with a sigh. “I’m sure it’s going to be alright.”
“But, what about the birthday…?!
“Hey.” I say as Satan and I step up to them.
“D’aaah!” Mammon shrieks and Satan rolls his eyes at him. “Ya can’t sneak up on people like that, Satan!” He scolds him.
“Whatever, Mammon.” Satan shrugs. “What were you talking about?”
“Nothing that concerns you, Satan.” Lucifer tells him with a straight face. Oh wow. He’s a good liar… I frown.
“What do you mean?” Satan says angrily. “I heard you talking about a birthday and since it is my birthday today, I’d say it concerns me.”
They keep going back and forth like the demons they are, seriously. So childish. I wonder if I should intervene. It’s probably for the best, or today is ruined.
“Come on, Satan.” I place my hand on his shoulder and make him look into my eyes. “He probably says it for a reason, right?” Before I give him the chance to answer me, I turn to Lucifer and try using my sternest voice. “And you, Lucifer. Are you trying to make Satan mad on purpose?”
“Of course not.” Lucifer looks as if I’ve said something outlandish. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“You’re right, James.” Satan suddenly says, not sounding mad at all anymore and I look in his eyes again. “It’s really not that important.” He smiles at me genuinely and suddenly I feel as if we understand each other, like I understood my own Satan. I know my pact with him is restored. I hear stories from the girls of strong emotions surging through them when they reconnected, but honestly: So far it only has a sort of healing effect on me. Another piece of my soul feels patched up.
The twins come back now, looking worried as they look between Lucifer and Satan, but they don’t say anything when Satan wraps his arm around my shoulders and I miss the smug expression he sends to Lucifer.
We look at Mammon and Asmodeus, seeming to be in some sort of discussion where Leila sits. “Now what’s up with them?” he asks as they both suddenly come running up to us.
“We’re baaack!” Asmodeus cheers.
“Take a look at this!” Mammon cheers in triumph waving a sort of album above his head. “The Great Mammon tracked it down for ya! ‘Cause I’m a genius like that!”
“Excuse me?!” Asmodeus protests indignantly. “What are you talking about Mammon?! I’m the one who found out it was being kept by Leila. You just happened to show up right when I got it from her. Isn’t that right, Leila?”
Leila looks up from her books. “Hm?”
“Oh, never mind!” Asmodeus huffs, but he can’t help a smile. “You’re almost worse than Satan when he’s reading!”
“Go on, birthday boy.” Lucifer suddenly pushes Satan towards Mammon and Asmodeus. “Step forward.”
“Hey, don’t push me!” Satan grumbles, but then stops his complaint as he gets the mysterious books thrust in his hands.
“Happy birthday, Satan.” Belphegor starts his felicitations and the rest of the brothers follow his example. “This is from all of us.”
“Wait, this book…” Satan looks at the cover. “It looks like a child scribbled all over it, but the design is amazing…”
“I know right?” Asmodeus beams. “Pandora was so cute with the fingerpaint. Of course I helped her choose the right colors and we had to start over a couple of times, but the cutie is quite talented! Just like her uncle Asmo!” He declares proudly.
“So the book you were all searching for was for me?” Satan looks very happy as he admires Leila’s daughter's ‘artwork’.
“Yep! It’s our present for you!” Mammon pats Satan roughly on his back. “Your birthday book! Full of our memories and pictures.”
“I thought you said it didn’t concern me, Lucifer?” Satan questions.
Lucifer smirks at him. “Huh, did I?”
“Whatever.” Satan shrugs, grinning my way. “I got my pact with James, because of it, so I’ll let it slide this time…” The others burst out in congratulations and they’re still at it when the angels join the laughing demons.
“Satan really looks happy, huh Lucifer?” I hear Simeon ask Lucifer as I watch James bonding with Satan, while everyone has gathered around them, being loud. On the one hand it makes me really happy to see this. But on the other hand it also makes me really sad. I can’t make myself be a part of it.
“He does, yes.” Lucifer is staring at them too with an affectionately proud smile. I can feel a sting of jealousy going through our pact. Proud Lucifer would never admit it out loud, but he really wants James to restore his pact with him too.
“...It’s his birthday, after all…”
“...Well, I guess we have to let him have his fun then...”
“...Thanks, I owe you guys one.” Satan breaks away from the group and comes my way with a gentle smile. “Come on, Leila, let’s go.”
“Go?” I realise I have missed the whole conversation. I completely missed what they were planning with each other. “What about my books?” I protest, trying to quickly gather them, but Satan already has pulled me up.
“Don’t worry. We will get them home.” James promises me.
“Have fun!” Simeon calls after us as Satan pulls me into the crowd. “See you back at Serenity Manor!”
“Sorry to have pulled you away from your books.” Satan grins at me. “I just wanted to spend some time with you too, after having spent time with Lily and James. I hope that’s okay?”
“Yes…” I take a deep breath. I should do this for Satan. It’s not his fault that I miss my own Satan extra on this day. “Yes, of course.” I give him a brave smile.
“Since I’ve already gone book shopping with Lily, I thought we could browse some of the limited-edition booths.” He suggests with a smile. “Most of my brothers have already been shopping there, so we won’t run into anyone else.” Is it just me, or does he definitely sound triumphant now? “Still, there’s a large crowd, so stay close to me okay?”
“Of course.” I say again. Even if I can stand my ground against most demons, I still don’t feel like getting into any fights. “I’m glad I got to see the fair today.”
“If it isn’t Satan and Leila!” We hear a squeaky voice, before I can react to his comment. “Aren’t you two a cute couple, if I ever saw one!”
It’s the obnoxious Little D no 2. He’s just as annoying as the one from my old reality, as he steps in our path looking from Satan to me as if he knows something. “Ugh… What are you doing here?” Satan asks him, annoyed.
“The main sponsor of this event is Lord Diavolo, of course.” Number 2 tells us. “So he had me and the other D's come and help out. Hey, why don’t you two join the stamp rally? You should still have enough time to do that.”
“A stamp rally?” That sounds honestly like fun.
“See, when you buy something at the market, they ask you a question.” He explains. “And each correct answer will earn you a stamp. You’ll get a wonderful prize, once you've collected enough stamps!”
“That sounds like fun.” Satan sees me smile and nods. “Okay, we’re in! Right, Leila?”
We get to work with much enthusiasm. We’re mostly buying small things, like special candy, but also some more limited-edition books, some cute toys for Pandora and I have found an interesting booth selling all kinds of rare ingredients and crystals. Between the two of us, we still earn a lot of stamps.
“Whew… We ended up buying a lot. And all our answers have been correct so far.” Satan grins proudly at our almost full card. “I sort of feel like the questions are too easy…” He frowns a little. I mean… ‘The name of the pathway between the Devildom and Human World’ ? Too easy…”
I laugh at him, forgetting for a moment that he isn’t my own Satan and linking my arm with his. “I think we’re just that smart together!”
He grins back, looking happy that I act less reserved around him now, I think. “Alright, if you say so. At this rate the stamp rally prize will be ours. Let’s keep this up.”
“I’m really curious what sort of prize it is!” I smile at him as I put the blood-painted ticket set that I bought for Mammon in my bottomless bag. I’m sure he will be happy with something weird like that.
“Yes, me too.” Satan nods, looking around. “But we still need two more stamps. Is there anything you like to check out, Leila?”
“Well…” I hope he won’t think this weird or read something into it. “We passed by a stall with enchantable accessories earlier and…”
Satan is already grinning. “Oh yes, I’ve seen that stall too…” He says, pulling me back into that direction with his quick way of walking.
I hope he doesn’t think I want to buy those to play pranks on Lucifer, because in that case, he is mistaken. I can always use extra trinkets to enchant, or to practice on. And I want to buy a couple of baubles to have our future apprentices analyzing, to see where they are...
Once at the stall, we both browse over the options. Each item comes with a suggestion of a spell or enchant, but I think I can easily put my own on these. Lily would love something that will help her communicate with animals. Earplugs are sometimes just impractical… Though I’m not sure if earrings would have the same effectiveness… Then there’s Sir Piggy’s collar that definitely still needs some improvement - if it wasn’t autumn and the whole garden is wet and muddy anyway, Lucifer would definitely be less lenient with Sir Piggy’s enthusiasm for ‘gardening’. - maybe with a charmed charm on it…?
“Oh, this ring is designed to look like a salamander.” Satan pulls me out of my thoughts. I only now realize how close he stands next to me, making me startle. “Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.” He grins. He doesn’t look sorry. Don’t tease me today, Satan...
“You didn’t scare me.” I defend myself, weakly. He definitely startled me and he knows it. “It's just… I was deep in thoughts…”
“Of course. Well, anyway…” He picks up more rings. “I would like to buy it for her, what do you think? As a symbol for her Fae familiar. And this one here for James. It looks a bit like Baron von TruffleSnout, don’t you think?”
The rings look really cute. They’re all somehow in an animal shape with the cutest little gems as the eyes. I nod approvingly: Lily and James would be happy with these, I’m sure.
“Yeah, it does look a bit like Sir Piggy.” I give him a grin. I don’t know why we still stubbornly use our own names for our piggy, but it’s kinda fun to do. “Have you seen Lily’s fae familiar?” I ask him with curiosity.
“No. I’ve only been told about it.” Satan chuckles. “If it weren’t for my own experiences at Lake Lo Lanthe, I might chalk it up to her imagination. That and she’s spectacularly bad at lying.”
“I’ve heard Fae can’t tell a direct lie, maybe that’s why?” I speculate and we share a laugh. I can’t deny I’m eager for my own chance to explore Faery. “I can enchant these into something useful for the SS… Maybe as a sort of alert for danger…?” I definitely feel we need something like that, after they were ambushed.
“In that case you need one too.” Satan decides. He picks up a much too pretty and expensive looking little dragon. “Like this, as a symbol for your Fairy Dragon…”
I look shocked. “No, I don’t need you to buy anything for me!” I don’t know why it comes out so rude. He doesn’t deserve that. I would love to receive something nice like this from my own Satan, but he’s not him!
He looks at me as if unimpressed by my small outburst. But it doesn’t feel like he’s taking it too personally as he says. “It suits you, Leila. Let me buy it for you.”
“It’s your birthday…” I protest as he’s already buying all the trinkets we selected, plus the rings. “You don’t have to give us gifts…”
“Well, since it’s my birthday, I can do what makes me happy, right?” He tells me with a shrug. “Come here.” He pulls my hand to him and slides the dragon ring on my thumb, before I know it. “See? It looks good on you.” He grins triumphantly, still holding my hand. “I want to be there when you enchant it.”
Ugh, demons… Of course he does. He’s much too interested in my process of spell-crafting if you ask me. Probably trying to get pranking ideas or lifting my curses. Still I promise him. Part of the enchantment is already in place, after all, these are enchantable items.
We get another question for the stamp rally, after his purchase. “Let’s go and take a break at the café after we answer this question.” Satan suggests, before looking at the envelope. He opens the envelope and looks happily surprised. “Oh, we’ll receive a catalogue of rare published books if we get this one right! What a coincidence. That’s what I was looking for!”
“Really? Do we get an extra prize?” I ask curiously, forgetting the boundaries I put up between us and stand close next to him to read the question. “What does it say?”
“Grr…” Satan growls as he finally sees the question. “ ‘What is the hardest question in the world to answer, according to human scientists and philosophers alike?’ This question is a lot harder than the ones we had before. I have no idea what the answer is.” He sighs, looking pleadingly at me. “But we have to try. It’s my one chance to get my hands on that catalogue…”
I smile brightly at him. “Don’t worry, I know the answer.” I snatch the question out of his hand and scribble the answer on it and quickly turn it in without showing it to him. He looks a bit offended, but then beams when he gets his catalogue handed over and another stamp for our rally.
“Well, obviously you know more of the Human World than me.” He defends himself a bit sulky but then grins. “I’ll buy you a treat as thanks, Leila.” He pulls me in the direction of the café. “Order whatever you want.”
I’m not very excited for the Devildom menu, but I guess I’ll try for him. Still I’m happily surprised that the café has a small selection of Human World-ish dishes and drinks, so I order some of those. Something called Butchered Cheesecake, which honestly tastes amazing, and some tea without toad eggs added to it.
“Are you having a good time today, Leila?” Satan suddenly asks. I look up and see him staring into my eyes. “I can imagine it’s not easy for you to celebrate my birthday…”
“It’s not easy, no.” I admit to him, trying not to get emotional. “Today I miss him extra. And you’re right here. But you’re not him…”
“I understand…” He says gently with a hint of guilt. “I’m sorry if we forced you…”
“No, I want to celebrate your birthday!” I tell him with conviction and his face lights up with a smile. “In his honor, but also in yours. Even if it’s hard, I’m happy to do… most of the things I was hoping to do with him, now with you.” I give him a bit of a shy smile. I would definitely not do ALL the things I was going to do with my own Satan. “This is the first time I get to celebrate yours and his birthday, did you know? Last year I was up in the Celestial Realm…”
“Really? Oh, yeah I guess that’s true.” Satan nods. “I feel like I’ve known you forever, but it’s actually not that long, is it?”
“No, I met Lily and all of you only a couple months after meeting the others.” I smile at him. “You’re all important friends to me. At first I was trying to just get through today without crying, but now I’m genuinely happy to have spent some personal time with you, Satan. And I have prepared a surprise for you, later tonight.”
“That’s good. I’m glad to hear that. I’m very curious to find out what you have planned.” Just then we get the bill delivered to our table. Satan looks at it as if his thoughts are somewhere else, until he says. “...Oh, another question. ‘Name three things that you love about the person most precious to you’ .”
“That’s Lily right?” I laugh, glad that I didn’t get this bill and question or I would have for sure fallen apart. “Since Shado isn’t a person.” I tease him.
“Well, actually…” Satan looks into my eyes again. “There’s someone else… I love her determination in the face of adversity. Next, I love how deeply she cares about everyone, her adorable smile and… Oh, I guess that’s three already.” He grins at me in a conspiratorial way. “I could go on and on about all the things I love about her.” I get the feeling that he’s talking about me, the way he looks at me like this. But that can’t be right… Right?
We get our last stamp and suddenly obnoxious Little D no 2 pops up again, as if he’s been following us the entire time. “Is it hot in here or is it just me?! Aren’t you two the most adorable-”
“What are you doing here?” Satan interrupts him with a growl.
“Oh, just checking on how you’re doing with the stamp rally.” Number 2 tells him. “Since the fair is almost closing up and…” He snatches our stamp card from the table. “Ah, look at that! A full card, looks like you’re winners! Congratulations on collecting all the stamps!”
“Yay!” I cheer. “What did we win?”
“Your prize is this lovey-dovey candy!” Number 2 presents us with a very sweet smelling jar of little heart shaped candy.
“Lovey-dovey candy?” Satan looks at the jar almost in disgust. “Who comes up with such an awful name?”
“They taste good, though.” I have already popped one in my mouth and offer the jar to Satan. He reluctantly takes one too. They’re probably too sweet for him.
“This will make your love for each other burn brighter than a thousand suns!” Number 2 declares, before running off, loudly laughing, while Satan and I almost choke on the candy.
“It’s not really enchanted candy, right?” I check the label and ingredients and if there was a spell cast over the sweets. My face is bright red, no doubt. “Oh phew… They’re not.” That would have been such a rookie mistake!
I see Satan blushing too as he stands up, glaring into the direction where the Little D disappeared into. “That’s a relief…” He says in a way that confuses me a little. Almost as if he’s disappointed. Though I don't understand why that would be?