The Centurion Cycle Book Five ~ Of Shadow and Fire

Chapter Two: The Scroll

"So Lord of Demons you have finally come down from your mountain." Oktor thought to himself as he looked up at the night's sky to see a dark winged shadow approaching from where he sat on his meditation pillow. Going back inside his newly completed house the Commandant went to his study and took a scroll out of his desk drawer. He then went back to the patio and sat down cross-legged, meditating as he waited for Philip to arrive.

"Oktor," the commandant heard the demon growl as he settled down on the ground before his house.

"Your Highness," Oktor bowed, offering up the scroll, his eyes downcast.

Arching an eyebrow Philip was taken aback by the Commandant's submissiveness. "You were expecting me?" He asked as he took the scroll.

"I know Jason's torments as well as any of his Saints," Oktor replied stretching out his black raven wings.

"But you know more than most," Philip replied. Seeing that the seal on the scroll was that of Melkior... former High Ambassador of Ares, the closest thing the Empire ever had to a true emperor.

"All I can offer you is in that scroll. I do not know if this scroll contains all you seek but I was instructed to give this to you. I beg your pardon for not seeking you out when it was given to me but Melkior made me swear not to."

"Why?" Philip demanded as he popped off the lead seal with a clawed finger.

"He did not think you would be ready for the truth until you sought it out yourself.

Carefully unrolling the scroll, Philip's eyes had no problem reading it with only the dim light of the moon. "Do you know where he is?"

"No I do not. I told the High Chancellor the truth when I told him I didn't know where Melkior is so why bother asking," Oktor said with a hint of desperation. He so much wanted to be believed. Keeping secrets, especially from another Centurion was considering almost dishonorable if at the very least very rude. Philip was not the kind of man who accepted such rudeness from anyone. "I suspect only Jason knows that secret. The scroll, however, was meant only for you. I have not read it."

Having read it once, Philip forced himself to read it again. "This can't be! Why didn't you tell me?"

"I do not understand your highness."

"My brother, you labeled him a demon, did you not?"

"Aye... so I told you. I sent his sword master to test him. Unfortunately, your brother had already surpassed his teacher in both strength and skill."

"You never told me what happened to him after you expelled him from the Academy, however."

"All I know was he had been arrested and sentenced to life in prison for the crime of killing a Legatio Senator... Senator Perils I believe. For all I know he still rots in Domus' dungeons."

"But he's not in prison Commandant. Not according to this." Philip growled throwing the scroll at Oktor's ashen face. "He stands by the right side of Emperor Xavier as the demon Field Marshal Armageddon."

"Alex... Alex is Armageddon?" Oktor said, baffled, his knees going weak.

"According to that scroll, he is. Why did Academic Melkior know but not you? I left my brother in your charge Oktor," Philip said his temper rising.

Seeing the dance of lighting across Philip's obsidian body Oktor felt fear enter his heart. "I would not be the first to admit Melkior is a greater mind than me. I swear to you Philip, I didn't know."

"You should have. You could have prevented it." Philip spat, his sharp fangs glistening in Oktor's frightened eyes.

"Your brother was mad, butchering my other students. What was I supposed to do?" Oktor said defensively.

"You should have never let Xavier near him."

"He was a Field Marshal. Was I to deny his request to mentor your brother?"

"You should have known better. You knew there was no love between me and Xavier." Philip spat before he took a deep breath to calm himself. "Does Jason know what this scroll contains?"

"No, he does not. As I said Academic Melkior instructed me to only give it to you. I myself don't know what is written on it."

"Though the truth is most horrible it explains much."

"Does it say what is wrong with the king?" Oktor said, his voice gaining strength as Philip's temper lessened.

"It does." Philip said leaning against a wooden post part of Oktor's house. "My love suffers from the same illness Melkior battled his whole life with... anima addiction."

"Anima addiction? But only Centurions are believed to have ever suffered from that. It is what makes them go mad and become demons."

"So do Legatio it seems. Given the amounts of anima Jason was given two years ago we should not be surprised. Though the symptoms are different he is suffering from the same anima sickness."

Shaking his hands nervously Oktor began to pace about the wood deck in front of his house. "Anima sickness but Jason has not gone insane."

"In Jason's case, the illness has left him weak."

"I see," Oktor replied scratching his chin. "If only our supply of anima was great enough to help him."

"That is why Melkior left... he has consumed more anima than you can possibly imagine over his long life. With his own supply running out he decided to escape from temptation least he commit a horrible crime... the stealing of anima."

"Where is he now?" Oktor asked deeply concerned.

"By now he is dead... he told only Jason where he planned to die."

"Why did he bother even telling Jason?"

"So he might harvest his anima... a Legatio's anima rich with over two thousand years worth of knowledge and wisdom."

"Did Jason consume it?" Oktor asked.

"I do not know but it might explain why he seems so troubled. To have so much knowledge thrust upon him like that...What could Melkior been thinking?"

"I think I do..." Oktor whispered. "He wants Jason to confront your brother in the hope of saving us all. Giving that Alex is rumored to have the anima of legions inside him Melkior must have thought that only his own most potent anima could given Jason the ability and strength to dare challenge him.

"If that is the case he died a fool," Philip grunted, stretching his wings to leave.

Intending to return to bed before Jason noticed he was gone Philip stopped when he saw the two Castilian twins sleeping before his door. Looking down at the two men nestled together Philip could not deny the rush of lust that was quickly growing in him. Whipping out his tail he brushed both men's faces with an almost tender caress. When they opened their eyes they first trembled at the demon's sight.

"Do not be afraid," Philip said calmly, going down on his knees before them. "I will not harm either of you."

"What do you wish of us my lord," One of the brother's said sitting down on his knees his head bowed down to the cold stone floor.

"Oh I can think of a few things," Philip chuckled as his tale slipped down the opening in the man's shirt at the neck tickling the twin's nipples playfully.

"My, my lord?" The twin, Tomal, stuttered feeling Philip's dominating presence overwhelm him.

"Rise Tomal and you too Gabriel. There is much I wish to show you two and many pleasure for we all can have." Philip said his white eyes going ever brighter.

"We live to serve my lord," both eventually stammered out.

"Maybe," Philip chuckled and he wrapped his tail tightly around Tomal's waist, drawing the man closer to him. "But on this night it will be I who will serve you."

Mesmerized by Philip, Tomes parted his lips, welcoming Philip deep passionate kiss when it came. So did Gabriel when Philip took him. For three hours Philip watched as his anima took hold of the two turning them from normal plain men into creatures of true passion so when they were ready they more than eagerly followed Philip to the baths beneath the keep where the three of them made love well into dawn.

Not once during it all did Philip worry what Jason would think. His husband knew his nature and would overlook Philip's insatiable appetites.

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