1

Vivi let out a sigh. "Well, as much as we appreciate the sentiment, Lord Azazel, Desira's feelings for you are a bit different."

A question mark practically hovered over Azazel's head. "Different? How so?"

"Well, Desira is in love with you in a way that involves wanting to marry you," Vivi explained.

Azazel laughed. "Ahahaha. Stop joking, Vivi. This isn't the time to play pranks on me."

Ren and the others only stared at him.

Azazel paused and then stared at Vivi, then shifted his sight to Ren and Lorelai before steadying his gaze at Vivi again. "Wait . . . you're not joking?"

Vivi shook her head and said seriously, "I'm not joking, Lord Azazel."

Azazel paused, blinking several times before his jaw dropped. "EeEgrh?! Marriage?! How come I only know of this right now?!"

Lorelai frowned, resisting the urge to hit him again. "Honestly, what woman would be interested in someone like this guy?"

"I can't believe you haven't noticed it all this time. How many years have you two been together?" Ren chimed in.

"Hundreds of years," Azazel answered without thought. "B-but . . . I never thought that she had those kinds of feelings about me. I always thought that what we felt are like family."

"Desira had been showing her affections for you all the time. She expressed her feelings for you every day and her desire to marry you. I think that should be clear, but you're so dense that you keep brushing her off.

"Egh?" Azazel shouted. "B-but I thought that they're only normal reactions to a member of your family?!"

"How is that normal?!" Lorelai shouted at him.

Azazel clutched his hair and despaired over it, feeling like heaven and hell had crushed down on him. "What am I going to do? Wait . . . is that why she's mad? Because I didn't know her feelings all this time?"

"How could you not know when she has been expressing it to you so straightforwardly? And even everyday?" Ren asked, thinking that Azazel was a lost cause.

While Azazel kept muttering to himself like he had gone crazy, Ren and the others were berating him.

"Honestly, you're a failure of a man. A failure of a creature. And you call yourself the demon Lord?" Lorelai spat.

Ren shook his head in disapproval. "No wonder she was pissed at you."

Vivi tried to pacify the situation. "No, Lord Azazel isn't that bad. He only treats each one of us as family and never thought of anything beyond that. In a way, he's dense and simple-minded."

"You mean an idiot, right?" Lorelai chimed in.

Azazel didn't seem to hear any of them as he was immersed in his own world of despair and thoughts while muttering to himself.

"Anyway, let's stop wasting time on him and think of a way to escape from here," Lorelai said.

"Evie and Elena are still in Sin City," Ren said.

Lorelai's face brightened, and her smile returned. "That's right. Those two got left behind in the city. I just hope that they notice that Desira is corrupted and wouldn't be taken in by her kind facade."

Ren suddenly had a bad feeling. "Now that you mention it . . . I just hope that they won't fall for her tricks."

He hoped those two would be vigilant and suspicious that they were gone.

"Now it's up to Evie and Elena to save us," Vivi muttered and released a deep breath. "Do you think they'll be able to free us from here?"

"Don't worry, those two are strong," Ren reassured. And Elena was with Evie. At least he trusted her to be more cautious and level-headed than Lorelai.

"Desira doesn't seem like she wanted to kill us," Ren said.

Vivi answered, "It's because she wouldn't gain anything from killing us, except maybe our souls. However, Desira needs no such thing since she's already powerful enough to be one of the most powerful demons in the Netherworld.

"If anything . . . I think that she wanted us to become allies when the corruption consumed us."

"Can we be corrupted here even if we're not from the Netherworld?" Ren asked.

Lorelai shrugged. "I don't know. But this corruption wouldn't work against me. After all, my will and righteousness know no bounds. Against me, this corruption is meaningless."

Ren ignored her and asked Vivi instead.

"Every creature could be afflicted with corruption. It just so happens that the Demon Lord was the one assigned the task of keeping the balance."

"Shouldn't it be the angels?" questioned Ren.

Vivi shook her head. "The Heaven Realm acts as guardians of cosmic balance, intervening when necessary to thwart malevolent forces that threaten the harmony of the universe."

"This corruption threaten the realms though," Ren stated.

Vivi nodded. "You're right. It should concern them as well, but they wouldn't act until it happened. So far, the previous Demon Lord kept the balance in place, but as things turn out now, maybe the angels would act after all."

"What happens then?"

Vivi crossed her hands and thought for a moment. "Angels and demons are natural enemies. So there might be war if the angels suddenly showed up here. We hate each other, and that's one of the reasons why the Demon Lord didn't want their intervention and didn't ask for their help in the first place."

"How stubborn," Lorelai declared.

"We have our pride after all, just like the angels have theirs," Vivi said with a shrug.

Ren took a moment and surveyed their surroundings, a foreboding landscape unfolded before them. The very essence of the Netherworld seemed twisted and distorted in this parts.

The ground beneath their feet felt unnaturally cold, and the air carried a scent of decay.

"Where are we anyway?" Ren asked.

Vivi however her eyes as well. "Only Desira knew where this is. Even I don't know this place."

Lorelai scanned the bleak horizon and spoke with a sense of urgency. "We need to find a way to escape this prison. I fear that Elena and Evie are not as smart as I am, and they would fall into this trap."

'You're trapped here though.' Ren gave her the silent treatment. "Anyway, as long as Evie and Elena are still in Sin City, we still have a chance to get out of here."

Vivi nodded in agreement while Azazel was still lost in his own world, too shocked to even comment or react.