Azazel stepped into the center of the Council, whip trailing behind him on the stones. He smiled, and Qayna was reminded how beautiful he was—how beautiful they all were, setting aside the part-animal forms. “I apologize, Samael,” he purred. “I didn’t hear your motion. Could you repeat it for me?”
The Fallen Samael kicked his legs and murmmphed, his head still stuck in the base of the Tower. The crack split wider and crawled further up the stone.
“Samael questioned your policies,” Bull Head growled. “He’s not the only one of us who thinks you’ve been too soft on Eden.”
Azazel arched his eyebrows and nodded slightly. “What Samael did,” he said slowly, “was issue a challenge.” He looked around at the other members of the Council. “Does anyone else here… wish to issues me… another challenge?”
There was a heavy silence. The ring of fire surrounding the city of Ainok was through its gates, Qayna thought, and burnings its way closer. She could hear screams, far outside the Plaza, and smell scorched flesh.
“I thought not.”
Azazel turned in a flash and kicked his goat-like hoof into the posterior of his rival. Samael bellowed in anger, the sound muffled by the stone around his head, and was pounded deeper into the rock.
Samael could stand the blow, but the Tower couldn’t. The widening crack became a fissure, and suddenly Qayna could see daylight through the middle of the Tower. She dragged Jacob back and away at a sprint, and this time Serpent Head was too busy watching out for his own skin to get in the way.
Great blocks of masonry rained around the Grand Plaza, crashing to the ground like falling stars and smashing up the smooth white stone. Azazel stood still, eyes flashing at his rivals as they cowered in the tumult. Qayna managed to get behind Serpent Head and then several more of the Fallen, and their bodies intercepted big chunks of rock that would have flattened her and the boy.
Then the Tower was flat and a cloud of white dust slowly settled over them all. Several of the Fallen lay bruised and bleeding in the wreckage, but Azazel stood tall in the center. With a single flap of his wings he snapped the dust off his own person and the ground beneath him.
“Look at that,” the founder of the city of Ainok said, glancing down at his own hoof. “You’ve made me split a nail.”