Oh, just when I thought he was never going to come around! I knew next to nothing about Azazel until last night, when he finally decided to come out of his grotto and let me get to know him. And he's lovely. He's gotten a redesign, and the things I have lately learned about him change the story quite a bit, but that's okay. (It's not like I had written that much of the story anyway, right? *rimshot*) I hate to have a character that competes with Az, but here he is. I'm a little funny about telling much about him, though, so I won't go into too much detail. I'm really pleased with this painting, though, and I don't say this about any of my work very often, but I think this is my best yet. And just because it's so very hard for me to keep my own secrets, I'll risk shooting myself in the foot and include a delightfully half-assed tidbit that I wrote in about an hour that may or may not make it into the final text. Enjoy!
At the end of the wide tunnel, I saw a flicker of movement. It was like a mere shadow, tall and slithering across the filthy floor. With its deliberate motion and ethereal nature, I at once expected it to be Azrael, confirming my worst fears that he had followed me. As it moved into a dim shaft of light that shone through from above, however, I saw that it was not Azrael at all, but something far worse.
The figure was built much like Azrael. Its body was composed of a dark, skeletally-thin torso lifted to a giant stature by disembodied roots which flicked through the solid ground like water. However, it was there that all similarity ended. The creature had only one scrawny arm which it held bent stiffly at its side. Its ruined black wings looked to have been severed near the shoulder blades, where the back swelled into a grotesque hump that caused the thing to lean forward. Its hair was short, black, filthy and matted to the head in places, and the head itself was the most dreadful part. Its face was revolting and looked as if it had been partially melted off. The remaining skin was white and shimmering, yet very dry like a mummy's, and stretched tightly across the skull with what appeared to be a complete absence of flesh. The eyes were white and bulbous, and the mouth was deformed into a frightfully unnatural, lipless grin which stretched from one side of the face to the other, revealing dozens of shiny, pointed teeth in pitted gums. Remembering all that Azrael had told me of his exiled brother, it did not take long for me to discern that the quivering monster before me must be Azazel himself.
He approached me slowly and with what seemed to be much effort, dragging somewhat to the side as he lurched toward me. His permanently bared teeth glinted in the soft, cool light, causing my stomach to leap and sending a shiver running through my body. For a moment, I felt like running, but the possibility of being pursued and angering him kept me fixed in place. He stopped directly in front of me, so close that I could smell him- he gave off a strong odor of earthworms.
His face was absolutely terrifying, a nightmarish horror, and yet there was some vague familiarity to it. Though he was wrinkled and disfigured, it was still apparent that he had, albeit a very long time ago, been an indistinguishable duplicate of Azrael. His breathing was rough and ragged with a barely audible whistle, and his body shook with a slight tremor almost constantly.
When he spoke, I started and cried out involuntarily, startling him in turn and causing him to shake more violently for a few moments. His voice was quite unlike Azrael's; it was deep and gravelly, with a sort of metallic rasp that echoed through the stone passage. I did not understand what he had said, as his facial disfigurement rather impaired his speech, and I did not respond.
"The queen," he slurred again, "you are the queen, yes?" I nodded, my heart throbbing in my chest, muscles poised for flight. Azazel began laughing in such a sickly way that I wondered if he was indeed laughing, or violently choking, and said "I knew you'd run away from him, but I never guessed I'd be so lucky that you would come here to hide with me
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