Mira had been blowing up his phone demanding to know when Dante would be free. He had asked the demon’s twin not to cause a scene. He understood. She was worried. He had to remember that this was his doing and his duty to see things through, despite his anger toward the succubus. As Gabriel stepped out of the car he noticed Inea and walked over to join her.  She was here, just to be a witness. She had rested and was ready for this. She was ready to get her demon back.

“Good morning Lady Inea, I know you aren’t very happy with me, but I’m glad you decided to show. Now shall we go inside?”

She had never been inside the Council Chambers. Even now, outside of them, Inea of Gorias looked at the people going in and mingling about suspiciously. She wanted to be able to hold Angelus, or as the public knew him – Dante. She wanted to enjoy feeling their bond and just being close to him. She hoped her plea to Darius had not fallen on deaf ears.  They respected one another and their trades. She had done business with him, when she was the sorceress of Atlantis. They had met on and off along the timelines of this era and that. Proving to him that this method of control was folly and also… found out… and showing him a new path had been easy enough for the dragoness. Seeing if he would decide to abandon one for the other?  That depended upon his desire to help his children and his willingness to try something new.

At security, Gabriel presented his credentials and Inea’s identification that he’d had created for her special entry. He walked through the detectors and waited on the other side for her. “I’ll show you to the waiting area and when it’s time you’ll be shown in. Would you like anything to drink?”

“No.” Inea whispered.

“Councilor, they’re waiting on you.” The guard called from the open entryway.

“They’ll take you to the witness area.” Gabriel assured her.

“Gabriel?” Inea waited until he was facing her again. “I have faith in you. Thank you.”

Giving Inea’s shoulder a squeeze he gave her just a small smile of support. The past few days had been very taxing on them all, but he knew it was horrible for Inea right now. Since the time with Senias at his dragon’s lair, Gabriel understood more than ever what being bonded deeply to another soul meant. Gabriel hoped they’d have a favorable outcome to the demon’s case.

“I appreciate that madam, but don’t thank me just yet. We’ve still got a long judgement ahead of us.” He stepped inside to get the meeting under way. It was at least 30 minutes before the doors opened again and the guard was calling out for Inea.

“Crimson is charging the next defendant with two counts that hold quite a penalty. Are you sure that you wish to represent him in this matter Councilor Kennedy?” The female doppelganger was standing, looking over the papers in front of her. Her silvery eyes tilted and the lights in the room reflected a bit from them. That’s how Gabriel could tell she had turned her attention to him. “It seems that it is your own reports that led to his arrest?” Vanishte sounded confused and looking to the demonic Councilor she was frankly surprised to see that he was not representing this one. As a demon it was traditionally his duty to present for the man.

“You are correct Madam Councilor, it is my report. But as I’ll prove, the report was never meant to indict the defendant. It simply listed theories by which a demon lord might influence a Councilor, as was the case being investigated. And this particular notion – that Dante de Salucet was involved – well, it was wrong.” Gabriel was all business but gave the a smile as he spoke the words that none in Chamber had ever heard.

Those that were accustomed to Gabriel’s aloof and confident demeanor showed their surprise.

Dante was led into the room with the shackles still in place. It was obvious that the Captain had worked him over and since he was restrained by magic he couldn’t heal properly. The male strolled in proudly sporting his black and swollen left eye and split bottom lip. His knuckles were bruised to show he’d given as well as he’d gotten and while they couldn’t see it, he was riddled with bruises all over his body. He’d had worse but being fully human at the moment… well that was what sucked. Glancing Inea’s way he grinned letting her know that he was still very much the spirited bastard that he’d always been. It was probably another thing that’d gotten him beat.

Inea growled to herself, but kept in control. She had another kindred who was taking a mental and emotional beating right then, but Seamus was up to the challenge. He knew that he’d best be ready should this entire thing go south. He was actually outside the building, pacing and smoking up a storm.   

The demon stepped into the stand and simply stood there with his chin up and his ruby eyes looking them each over one by one while his name was read off along with the charges.

“Dante de Salucet is hereby charged with Conspiracy to Commit Treason, Solicitation of Councilmen, and Unlawful Transport of Citizens to an Unprotected Realm.” Vanishte spoke the charges and motioned for Skinner to begin this prosecution.

Ezekiel Skinner stood and moved to the center of the room so that he could then be able to face everyone in the circular set-up.

“I have never seen this protocol used before in my long life. Apologies. But I will try to explain it. You see, it was reported to me that a Councilor was being improperly influenced by a faction and was no longer bringing forth unbiased votes and making unbiased decisions on anything that came before his Council. I had to use subterfuge to gain the information needed to complete the investigation.” Skinner placed his hands behind his back and looked at each of the members of this Council as he spoke.

“Gabriel Kennedy and his Tasker, Jean-Michel Raudine were sent to investigate the rumor that Councilor Petrard in Paris was compromised by demonic sway. In their final report on the matter, which has been entered into evidence and provided to you, Councilor Kennedy reported that Councilor Petrard did indeed seem to be compromised due to knowledge that was normally beyond him. His own Council are now apprised and investigating further. Councilor Kennedy also indicated that for the Councilor to have known about a specific artifact, he would have had to have been in the company of Demon Lord Darius of House Zarh’el himself. To travel to this realm one must be blooded to it and to be within the space known to Councilor Petrard, someone of familiar relation would have to be responsible for transportation. Dante de Salucet fits that need and is the only one strong enough on this plane to have done so.” Skinner looked to the Council.   “By Councilor Kennedy’s own report, this should be an open and shut case.”

 

“Except when the evidence is circumstantial.” Gabriel’s teeth clenched together after he spoke. Skinner was right, damn him. Gabriel was very good at compiling his research and building his case so that it took little to no thought on the Council’s part in determining judgement. He’d have to show Skinner that he was sometimes fallible. He knew this would have lasting effects, that other cases he had prosecuted would be called into question. However, that was something he was willing to face, if it meant the innocent one was cleared.

“Director Skinner is correct in my findings and the information that I was able to gather and compile, but..” Gabriel lifted one finger and held it up as he looked at the Director, “Even I can be wrong if I don’t procure all of the information needed. I do not do field investigations, I simply take the information that my Tasker and Crimson bring to me and I deduce, I build and I strategize. These are all good talents and skills to have as a Councilor, but they make for piss poor field work.” He chuckled a little as did the others.

“Why were you doing field work?” Zenlial asked.

“You’d have to ask Director Skinner that question, and it really has nothing to do with the case. Therefore I ask that you allow me to move on.” Gabriel waited on the nod from the elven Councilor before moving on.

“In this case, Crimson has made a mistake. They have made a mistake by leaving a Councilor to do a Tasker and Field Investigator’s work. The work is complete enough to give credence to beginning a true investigation of Councilor Petrard – which is ongoing… as he stated. However, it is not complete enough to be used to put Dante de Salucet behind bars or to banish him. He has not influenced the Councilor in Paris. I’ll prove it to you.”

“Go on,” Vanishte motioned for Skinner to move to the side and Gabriel was allowed the floor. She sat down.

“You can read in my report that I surmised that upon the information that was given to me, I placed Dante as the mode of transport and the only one strong enough to do so.”

“Which makes sense. He’s blooded of a demon, he’s familial blood of Darius, and his twin, though also matching both sets of standards cannot make such travel with another person. She is not of that skill set. She has even testified to that fact, her testimony is in the packet, ” Skinner shook his head. “We have searched far and wide and there is no other explanation. And though Dante has said he is innocent, he has not said anything more to help his defense.”

“Why should he? You’ve arrested him, placed him in the care of demon-hunters who have abused him, and all on the basis of a report that was to be used for the purpose of beginning an investigation into another person – not him.”

“Because, I used your report to open an investigation,” Skinner smiled at Gabriel. “It’s what Crimson does.”

Councilor Vanishte had to raise a brow at this as the vampire to her left leaned forward as if to day something only to ease back in his chair as if thinking better of it. She had no such reserves.

“The investigation being open doesn’t necessarily constitute an arrest, Director, and never has it condoned such abuse of those detained.” To the human Councilor she continued, “If such a theory was indeed submitted then he’s correct and you will have to prove otherwise.”

“Yes, Councilor Kennedy. That means I have evidence that suggests that Dante de Salucet has indeed been moving across the boundaries of time and space to fraternize with Darius of House Zarh’el – the demon house that he is heir to.”

Heir? Dante would have laughed at that assumption if it wouldn’t hurt so damned much to do so. He was the farthest thing from an heir to his sire as they could get. He hoped that Skinner was made to look like a fool before this whole farce of trial was finished.

“I’ll prove that there is another person stronger and more capable of  moving people between the realms. I’ll also show that Dante’s rights were violated by the fact that he had no Council present upon his arrest and was not offered such Council after his arrest and interrogation. That is clear breach and violation of standard protocol.”

“He gets Council only after he has been officially processed and charged, Councilor Kennedy. Having your Councilor present at the moment of arrest is a privilege, not a guarantee. And Councilor Nelash has been apprised of this situation from the beginning. He has looked at the evidence and has made the decision to abstain from defense. Perhaps he sees the writing on the wall that you do not.” Skinner was not pleased with any of this and he was showing it.

“What evidence has your investigation brought to light, Director?” Councilor Zenlial Nedian asked, curious now. She wanted to be sure they were on the appropriate side here. She didn’t want to be double crossed by a demon lord.

“That the defendant has made several trips across the planes to his home plane, and specifically he had taken to visiting the throne in the Abyss several times over the past decade or two. If he’s stating he doesn’t travel that road, he’s lying,” Skinner pointed out.

Inside Gabriel mentally groaned. He should have expected this from Skinner. Dante gave no outward visible reaction either.

“Any one of those trips might have included Councilor Petrard,” Councilor Vanishte looked to Gabriel. “Do you want your client to explain those now?”

“He has no reason not to explain those trips.  His father lives there and he goes to see him. He’ll be happy to tell you the same.” Gabriel assured with confidence as he gave the Council a moment to process things.

“I believe then, that the burden of proof is on Councilor Kennedy, the defender in this case. He can have his defendant answer our questions until we have no doubt of innocence or are persuaded to hold Dante for further deliberation or questioning or… at worse, he is found guilty. The evidence given to convince us all that Dante de Salucet is the only possible person to be able to transport Councilor Petrard to and from the location of House Zarh’el – where the Councilor now in custody would have seen the artifact that is mentioned in the report is strong, circumstantial or not.” Iscariot looked at the paperwork before him that had been provided pre-judgement. Then, he looked up to Gabriel. “So, move onward.” 

Pacing between the Council and Dante, Gabriel clasped his hands behind his back to keep from rubbing his jaw while speaking.

“What if I can produce evidence that Mr. De Salucet is not the only one capable? I ask because instead of words and theory, I can provide solid proof.”

“Well then wow us with this wondrous evidence of yours.” Sebastian wasn’t impressed so far and it showed as he yawned.

“How secure would you say this Chamber is Director? Would you say one could breach it without setting off alarms or alerting security?”

“No. Absolutely not,” Skinner replied. “There’s enough magic on this place to make it impenetrable by any means and enough security to physically keep control.”

As the others sat upright in their chairs and watched, Gabriel simply stood in place and turned his back to the door, facing the same direction as the person on judgement. Dante’s eyes cast their gaze aside to Gabriel. What was he doing? 

Skinner leaned forward, hands spread on the table he was now standing at. What was this Councilor on about? He looked in the direction Gabriel was watching, and then, for some reason, he felt the need to turn and look at the door. His expression quickly became one of utter surprise. He was reaching for his ear to tap the comm device there. But all he heard was static and then, a sharp SNAP – before he grabbed the piece out and let it finish exploding on the floor.  

There were no alarms raised and none of Skinner’s guards were at the door. There was, however,  an elderly gentlemen in his early seventies, dressed in a suit completed with vest and pocket watch stepped right through the door as if it were nothing. At his side, with her arm laced through his, Dante’s twin walked with her chin up just a notch. She was actually modestly dressed in black slacks, a loose flowing blue silk blouse that matched the elders eyes.  Mira was present for additional support since her father had asked. The elder’s cane clicked on the marble floor and he lifted a hand to smooth his salt and pepper mustache into place. Through his dark tinted, round rimmed glasses – the man’s eyes gave off a soft blue glow. The salt and pepper hair on his head was oiled back and he looked patient and calm for the moment. He came to a stop just a few steps in front of Inea so that he was positioned behind Dante.

The dragoness grinned and bowed her head for a moment out of respect.

It was for good reason that the Council was uncomfortable and immediately on edge. Not one alarm sounded. This pair had just walked through their magical wards and security measures as if they were nothing.

“Who is this?”Skinner demanded.  

“I’ll let our guests respond,” Gabriel replied.

“Who am I, you ask young man?” That blue gaze moved to settle on the Director and a slow smile lifted the edges of the mustache, “Well I’m the boogey man that used to sit in your closet late at night and feed you nightmares until you wet the bed.”

Skinner’s expression told the creature that he was not amused.

The old man gave a slow bow to the ladies in the room, “Lord Darius Zarh’el at your service, and this is my daughter Miranda De Salucet. You’ve already met and obviously mistreated my son.”

Skinner motioned for the one guard who was on this side of the doorway, the one acting as bailiff, to do something.

When he moved to react, Darius’ glowing blue gaze shot to the man. The demon lord waggled his finger at the guard for daring to try anything. With a flick of a wrist and movement of fingers, the man was sliding to the floor unconscious.  Another flick of his wrist and hand had the shutters rolling down over the windows above their heads and the locks on the doors clicked into place.

“How dare you! It’s not possible that you’re Darius Zarh’el! Darius was banished and is still banished!” Councilor Nelash was up and growled at this demonic impersonator. The other Councilors seemed ill at ease, save perhaps Zenlial, who had known this was going to happen. The elf was smiling. She loved theatrics! Well, so long as no one got hurt.  

There was a slow sigh from Darius that said he felt as if he were dealing with children. Laptop screens were nothing but fuzz and phones no longer even clicked on little on had any service at all.

“My presence was demanded by you and yours. I am simply answering the summons that was made.” He felt Dante look at him and seeing the damage didn’t please him. He nodded towards Mira and watched her move from his side.

Walking to the center dais that her brother stood on Mira’s lip curled in disgust and fury as she took in her brother’s injuries. Her ruby colored eyes sparkled as she grasped the center chain of the shackles.  She used a small burst of energy and had them falling in two pieces at Dante’s feet. With but a simple touch of her hand to Dante’s bruised cheek and swollen eye, she gave him just enough energy to begin to heal.

Inea immediately took a deep breath and both of them delighted in feeling one another again. She would let him draw energy from her  as he needed. Mira didn’t need to spend too much of her own energy. However, Inea did not move forward. She might yet be called to explain things from her point of view. So she settled for a longing look Dante’s way.

“You must prove your case before being dismissed,” Vanishte cautioned. The doppelganger looked between all of them. “As it stands, removal of shackles happens when one is still a defendant unless that prisoner is a danger to anyone.”  The gray-skinned Councilor looked to Dante then and asked, “Do you swear that you will not be a danger to any while these proceedings continue?”

Zen had to stifle a giggle. It was just funny to her how very non-emotional and matter-of-fact the lead Councilor was. She supposed that was a good thing, but it was also amusing to the elf. And that’s when she saw the magic on Director Skinner’s hand. Well, now. That was interesting.  

“He is still a prisoner until he is found innocent,” Skinner coalesced power in his fist.

“Prisoner yes, punching bag no – and never will be again.” Mira purred low as she met gazes with her twin a brief moment before she glared at the Director. She moved to stand at the elder’s side again.

Inea stood quietly, her eyes fixed on Skinner. Her spells were ready.  ~ Darius… ~

“How is this possible? This is not your realm and you should not be able to do such here.” Nelash was amazed and also just a little frightened by this show of power.

“The burden of proof is on Councilor Kennedy on Dante de Salucet’s behalf. He has called on you, sir. Please explain,” Vanishte urged. Her hand went up, palm facing Skinner. The Director  swallowed hard but pulled his power back and let it dissipate around his fist, which was clenched in anger.

Gabriel felt more responsible at this moment then he had since the beginning. Clearing his throat Gabriel looked from the Council to his witness. “Lord Darius care to explain?”

“You think after decades of banishment I haven’t found my ways?” Darius winked at the shapeshifter. Oh he could have fun with her. The look he gave Mira as he pat her hand where it rested on his arm said that he was being patient with the naivety that was being revealed by the Director and the Council.

 

“Then perhaps you should explain them. Because, from where I’m sitting, you just seem like a pretty powerful human sorcerer putting on a show. I’ve seen a lot of those in my lifetime,” the long-haired Lycan Councilor on the other side of the room was speaking for the first time.

“This is what many refer to as an altered form of possession. I am here in mind, but the rest of me is in my realm. This body is not mine and you should not hold my use of it against the poor old chap. He fought me. He’s not having a pleasant night.” Darius couldn’t help his grin.

“What about Councilor Petrard? How did the Councilor get to your realm and know of the … there was an artifact mentioned…?” Vanishte asked.  

Gabriel drew in a deep breath. “He can make a space between worlds. We actually enjoyed a meal between his realm and this one. I saw with my own eyes what he could do. I never left this realm and yet I was able to see the artifact in question.” Gabriel looked Zenlial’s way, “And I wasn’t alone. I had others with me so that I had witnesses. I can call them all if you would like me to do so…”

“Well you are somewhat correct in your explanation Councilor,” Darius grinned and would have happily warped and twisted the Chamber to meld it with his realm. Of course that would ruin the magic on the place and set alarms off everywhere. But his response was stopped by the little elf.

Once Gabriel mentioned the dinner and that he had a witness, Zenlial stood up.

“I saw it with my own eyes,” Zen nodded to them all. “Councilor Kennedy called me out of the blue and asked that I be a witness to everything. We wound up in a place that wasn’t really the Abyss, but we could see and interact with things that were. There was a dimensional rift – I suppose that’s what you’d call it. It’s something dragons used to be able to do… a spellwork they once shared with humanity and elves. However, you’ve made dragons run away so it’s not like you’re still learning anything from them…you probably have all forgotten what that kind of magic is like.”

Several of the Councilors muttered and scoffed at the last part of the elf’s remark. How would she know?

“Oh, because I’m a lot older than most of you and remember these things,” the elf made a quick, short bow and sat back down. “I can also hear better.” 

“Councilor Kennedy, you should have simply told us of this instead of bringing him here. You’re presence really wasn’t necessary to prove your heir’s innocence. Your methods could have simply been explained in detail to us,” Vanishte pointed out. Gabriel had indeed proven his point.

“I doubt all of you would’ve believed without proof and a witness…” Zen muttered under her breath.

That received a chuckle from the vampire Councilor. This whole thing was actually quite amusing to him. He lounged back in his chair and flipped through the evidence. “Nothing ever truer has been mumbled from your chair madam.” When the doppelganger, lycan and even the Director looked his way, Sebastian showed no regret for what was said.

Mira giggled at the same time her elder chuckled. With a shake of his head, Darius responded instead of the human Councilor.

“It’s cute, my lady, that you think I would appear at the will of your Human Councilor. No, I spoke with him, he told me of what he had done and the use of the information by someone here.  I’m here because of that very someone – because of the challenge presented by your Director when he had my son arrested for a deed that wasn’t his own. Make no mistake beautiful, he knew what he was doing when he cut my son off from contact. He wanted my presence and so here I am.” The way he stressed son would let them know Dante wasn’t his heir, but he was still important. His glowing blue gaze moved over to Ezekiel Skinner.

“I want you to stop meddling in the Council’s affairs – in this world’s affairs. You think we’ve not traced all of the collusion between your children and the doppelgangers who tried to infiltrate this and other Councils across the world? You’re still meddling, even now! You’ve had Petrard under your thumb for quite some time. And since you’re here, it proves I have been correct in this theory all along. You are definitely capable of influencing our world – even while banished from it. And that needs to stop!” Skinner looked to Councilor Nelash, the Demonic Councilor on this ruling bench. “Councilor, have you nothing to say? Is this not your enemy as well as ours?”

“I…I said that I would abstain from judgement relevant to Dante’s case,” Malcolm, the doppelganger who had been assigned this body by Darius himself wasn’t sure what to say or do. He was supposed to be there to push things through for Darius, while pretending to be the demon lord’s rival.  He felt pretty confident that he would keep this cozy role so long as he stayed out of the dramatics that were suddenly surrounding them.

“You have no right to abstain in this!” Skinner yelled at the Councilor. “They’ve tried to make a mockery of our governing body and you think you can abstain?”

“No. I…” Malcolm was trying to keep up here.  Skinner wanted the Councilor to side with him, because Skinner worked with Tal’Secus. Malcolm knew this. He was obviously trying to blame everything on Darius and his kids. Right. But Skinner had no idea that Malcolm had also made a deal with Dante… to act on the demon’s behalf in all matters that would affect their trade, to help them… shit. He’d broken his own deal! He’d abstained, thinking to not get involved in the matter, trying to play both sides.  His eyes met Dante’s sneer and then Darius’ blue glowing gaze and he swore he could see a matching sneer there.

Darius made a single gesture with his fingers.

Before he could say a word, Malcolm felt the pain of forced transformation upon his body. Within seconds he was laid out across the table, convulsing, barely alive… in his true form – the form of a doppelganger.

All of the Councilors were up and watching, Vanishte placed a hand to her heart.

“What the hell…” Sebastian was quick to his feet and yanking the elf out of her chair as it sat between him and the supposed demon Councilor. The vampire pulled Zenlial out of the way to keep her from harm.

“I wondered why he didn’t arrange to defend my son, why he didn’t even contact me. Now we all know.” Darius looked around at the Councilors. He had actually begun another spellwork, but Skinner acted quickly. The Director was down from the podium and restraining the doppel as quickly as he could. His own magic moved to paralyze Malcolm’s vocal cords just as he had done a certain dragon’s cords a few days earlier. He didn’t need the creature outting him or Tal’Secus.  Darius saw the magic travel from Skinner to the doppel. He chuckled to himself. No worries, then. The Demon Lord would be sure this creature was destroyed in good enough time – unless Skinner did it first.

“Make no mistake Councilors, I do have eyes and ears everywhere just like others do.” Darius let his gaze meet with the Director’s for a brief moment, letting the man know this message was specifically for him.  “I don’t need my children to arrange meetings or provide transport to those that I wish to speak with. If I desire a meeting, I arrange such myself. Also, be aware that making an enemy of me is not in this Council’s best interest. As the lovely lady pointed out, this isn’t my realm, but that doesn’t mean I can’t reign hell upon it.”

“Beg Pardon!” Zenlial’s voice came out above all the others in attendance. Everyone else seemed in shock or awe of this moment, but the elf was fearless in her approach, though respectful as well.

Darius looked to the female that sought his attention, “Yes madam?” Elves had always been fascinating creatures to him. They seemed a perfect balance of nature and magic, until they were up close and you could see the flaws in their crafting.

“If you have unfair influence upon a Councilor how are we to have confidence in this form of government and in the decisions made by it? Do you not see that we need the checks and balances to be able to govern fairly? Do you not want this governing body to succeed in keeping chaos to a minimum? Keeping chaos between the many races here on this middle-plane to a minimum helps all of us, including your people – with trade and peace. So, I suppose I don’t understand why you would threaten us… or I suppose your intention isn’t to threaten us per say, but the Council as a whole?”  Zenlial was fascinated by this man, though she could tell this wasn’t actually Darius. But his soul was here, and his power – or a portion of it – that was for sure.

“I believe, considering your recent issues with doppelgangers and this continued issue – you have things much more dangerous than demonic influence to worry about, Councilors.” He may have found insult in her words, except that she was obviously still learning. “Govern fairly? Every race here has their eyes and ears within the world. Are you not friendly with others here? Do you not share minor details and seek council or help from one another? As a banished demon my times upon this plane are limited and so I like to keep informed and appraised of situations. I’ve never used any to gain sway. Look into Petrard’s cases and you’ll see for yourself that I never influenced him one way or the other. He simply kept me informed and in return I fed him information that helped with cases that your own investigators were drawing blanks on.”

“If that’s the case, why investigate at all?” Zenlial asked, she looked to Skinner.

“Some of our methods for getting answers aren’t really well taken by Crimson and Council. So your kind only come to my kind for help when all else fails. They don’t mind paying the price then, when they’re desperate.”

“Like he said, such information may be invaluable to people on this side, but it’s illegally purchased and won’t be tolerated,” Skinner glared at Dante and Darius.

“Then, I suppose you’ve never purchased such from a demon?” Zenlial asked the Director. The other Councilors looked at the Director, waiting for an answer.  The Director was red in the face.

“This is absurd! I have given my life to the Council and Crimson. I’ll not play this game.” He hefted the unconscious doppelganger off the desk and onto the floor to be picked up by other guards. Looking to Darius he motioned for the chamber, “Mind unlocking everything?” He turned as if preparing to leave, but paused at the human’s next words.

“Judgement first.” Gabriel looked from the demons to the Director, “He was arrested under your order and detained for a week. What of your judgement of Dante de Salucet?”

The glare Gabriel got from Ezekiel Skinner told him that he had hit the nerve he was aiming for. By bringing up his failures in this, it undermined his role. The Councilors would be scrutinizing his work, now.

“All in favor releasing the defendant due to lack of solid evidence and obvious reasonable doubt say, ‘aye.’” Everyone agreed as all spoke, ‘aye.’ Vanishte tapped the gavel once, “By decree of this Council, Dante de Salucet is free of all charges and may return home.”

“If you come across any others that you question my connection to,  such as in the case of Petrard, simply send word and I’ll happily let you know if the individual is mine or not. You’ve no need to badger my children for such details. They are too loyal to give you answers anyways.” With a simple move of his fingers the shutters lifted, doors unlocked, and the electronics corrected themselves. “If that’s all, I’ll take my children and leave you to the rest of your meeting.”

Skinner immediately called the guards into the chamber. He had a mess to deal with.

Inea wasted little time in getting up to meet the two gentlemen leaving the middle of the chamber. She wanted to be sure Dante was perfect.  

Rubbing his wrists Dante walked out of the center of the chamber at his father’s side and couldn’t wait to get Inea in his arms.

“Are you sound, love?” Inea asked, looking him over as best she could right then.  Mira stood beside her father, watching with approval as her brother was met by a very worried lady. Inea had grown on her.  

“As sound as I’ll be for now. Let’s get out of here. I’ve had enough of this place.” His arm slid around her waist as he drew her close. They all four made their way out of the Council Chamber and the door closed by itself.  

Back inside, Gabriel had one more thing to bring forward.

“The final case I present to you is my own and it’s in regards to the rule on interoffice relationships…” Gabriel’s words filtered out through the door as it was closing behind the trio, ensconcing the Councilors inside for his final presentation.

Looking at the elder man, Dante held his hand out to him, “Thank you for coming.”

“I’m your father, I’ll always come when you really need me.” Darius took his son’s hand and squeezed, but the human form he had taken was weaker than the demon himself. He was running out of time. “Glad the elf didn’t keep asking questions.”  Reaching for the dragoness’ hand, he lifted it and placed a kiss in the palm, “Lady Inea as always it is a pleasure to see you, perhaps next time it will be for better circumstances.”

“Of course. I look forward to it,” she whispered, but curved herself into Dante’s side, her arms around him as if she would never let go.  The glow in the human man’s eyes diminished and the elderly gentleman looked around, just a bit lost.

“You needed a ride? I’ve already paid for the taxi out front. Just tell him who you are and where you’d like to go. Pay it forward next time someone needs a ride.” Mira motioned for the man to go out front.

“Thank you, I… I will.” With a scratch to his head the gentleman nodded and smiled at the pretty lady. Slowly, he made his way, leaning heavily on the cane.  He was confused, sure, but he climbed into the taxi and gave directions to his home. He knew something had happened, but what?

“You helped him set this up didn’t you?” Dante looked at Inea and Mira with a partial grin.

“Yes. Once I spoke to your father, I knew what he was doing to come over. He truly is banished. But his soul and power can possess magic-capable humans. Very interesting science behind that, but I’m not a very good geek. I just needed the basics to be sure it worked for this.”

“How do we get out of here?” Dante had to ask since he’d been brought in through a different way. He felt Inea checking him over and had to smile. She worried over him and it was refreshing to feel her in his head again.

“Let’s walk outside and to the left. There’s a park that only supernaturals are allowed entry into. There, we can portal. We can go back to the Inferno. Just… don’t think you’re getting rid of me anytime soon.”

“No arguments from me on that one.” Dante kissed Inea’s forehead and then moved forward with her in his left arm. It was time to go.

“Mind if I tag along? I have an anxious mate waiting on me there,” Mira said proudly. “I can’t wait to tell you how I earned him all by myself.” She took Dante’s other arm.  

 

~  Rachel Diane Adams and Dawn McClellan © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2018