“Azzie… Wake up. Wake up, Azzageddi…”
His name. His hated true name. Only those who seek to bind him to their will use it. It is the name of slavery for him, for the true name of devil or demon is the command word of control, the password to the soul. Even when Alma used it – when he told it to her, without telling her why he had a secret name – it was so that he could make the Adamantine Vow, when he promised to protect the Bunnies no matter the cost to him. Although he took that vow of his own free will, in order to convince Alma to trust him, he was still, in effect, indirectly binding himself into her service.
Tuma-Sukai is the name he stole, along with his second human form, that of a tall, dark demigod, cruel and ripe for overthrow by his own people, led in uprising by Sky, in that island valley on Earth long ago. Sukai is shortened to Sky by his friends. Azzageddi is a name he would like to forget entirely.
He feels razor claws stroking lightly along his face, not quite cutting his skin. He flinches away, opening his one eye to pain, to cold, to the atmosphere of undeath and unclean death, the aura of a sanctum tuned to necrotic energies, nested within a larger one attuned to Hell. He looks up into the mad face of Nua, and memories of the island, of Arion, fade completely from his surface thoughts, to be locked away tight. With them goes all but the faintest echo of hope.
“Are you feeling better, Azzie? Is it hurting too bad?”
He shivers, his eye wide like a child that knows that soft words and a gentle touch are a precursor for reasonless punishment.
Nua runs her ring-clawed fingers along his jaw, contemplating him like an unfinished work of art. He must keep his head up or suffer lacerations. “You know, I was very mad at you for what you did so long ago, and after I was so generous to you, too. Breaking my neck like that… But I have to admit, I missed you.” She runs her metal claws down his throat, then grips him firmly, not quite choking him, the claws pressing against his skin right on the verge of puncturing it. She leans closer and gently, slowly kisses him, coaxing his lips to part, forcing her tongue into his mouth until she teases the stump encrusted with thick, half-congealed scabs that is all she has left him of his tongue.
A muffled whimpering escapes from his mouth into hers as he kisses her back. He fights the urge to scream, to roar. He raises his hands, and discovers to his shock that he is no longer chained. the chains are off. His hands are free.
He could do it now. He could change, swiftly, and kill her in his devil form.
But no. Surely she is ready for that. She must be. This is a test, to see if she has truly broken him. And even if he did succeed, there is the chain around his neck. And there is Margrave. The time is not yet ripe. He pushes all thought of rebellion deep, deep, locking it away. He is shattered. He is crushed. He is a broken beast, a slave, and that is what he will be until the right moment comes.
He touches her hair, then flinches away for fear she might punish him for daring to do so. One of her claws cuts into his neck at his movement. But Nua breaks away from the kiss, her lips twisted in a cruel smirk, victorious, stained crimson and flecked with black curds of blood. She breathes into his mouth, “Do you want to make me happy, Azzie?”
Sky nods, afraid to do anything else.
She pulls taut the chain around his neck so that the links dig in just enough to make breathing uncomfortable. “Are you going to behave?”
He nods, desperately.
Nua smiles her sick little smile, full of cruelty and insanity. “Come with me. There’s a good friend I want you to meet. Her name is Trocia.”
She leads him out of the room.