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Author's note: Here's chapter 2,5. A little look into Neleh's old past, that might or might not come looking for her at some point. It was just a little something I thought would be a fun side episode. Let me know in the comments, if you want me to write the whole story of Neleh's and Gabriel's past at some point. Alternatively I might drop a few hints at it every now and then, when relevant.

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”What brings you to the Jade Palace, Councilor Michael?” Tian’Zun asked, while remembering that he had asked a similar question, though much less polite not so long ago.

“I heard an interesting rumor.” The noble looking Celestial answered while looking at the paintings on the wall of the Head Judge’s abode. “According to that rumor, you had a certain interesting soul pass through here. And I’m fairly sure we both know who I’m referring to.”

Tian’Zun was starting to sweat. He had never gotten along with any members of the Celestial Council, and least of all Michael, who always seemed to be hinting at having more knowledge than he was letting on. “I am afraid I have no idea who you are referring to. And even if I did, I couldn’t tell you. Any who pass through here is guaranteed a new start, only their Karma following to their next life.”

The dark and handsome Celestial laughed. “Oh spare me. I’m fully aware that HE came through here, and I’m also sure that vile brew you feed to the souls wouldn’t work on him. So while HE might have gotten a second start, HIS memories will be there, so Karma won’t be the only thing HE brought along.”

Tian’Zun could feel another headache developing. “Even if what you’re saying is correct, it would still break every principle about reincarnation, if I were to give out any information about someone’s new destination. What would happen to the system, if old enemies could get information about a person’s reincarnation, and could hound them not only to the death, but their subsequent lives as well?”

Michael’s full laugh was one that carried the undertone of large bells ringing, and could draw others into revelry just by hearing it. “You misunderstand me Tian’Zun. I bear no ill will towards HIM. In fact, I might be one of HIS few friends. Here’s the thing though. I heard the news fast, as news and rumors are what I do, but you can be sure that sooner or later Gabriel will hear about this too. And unless I can distract her with some information, she will be the one here asking the questions. And she will bring along the Asura war gods to make her point. Now I’m quite sure you’d rather be dealing with me than her. The Executor of the Celestial Council can be rather…shall we say forceful, in matters pertaining to HIM.”

Tian’Zun was sweating profusely now. “No, that certainly would not be a pleasant experience.” Gabriel was one of the three beings even the Jade palace dared not anger. Add to that her command of the Celestial Host, and she could definitely be a problem beyond measure. “I still can’t tell you though. That would be against everything we stand for!”

Michael let out a sympathetic smile, and spoke in almost a whisper. “Look. If Gabriel doesn’t get some direction, she will scatter the Celestial Host to search through every world, and make contact with all the Celestials that that aren’t even aware of the Host, to enlist their help. On the other hand, if I could direct her into a specific direction where I know for sure HE hasn’t been reborn; we can at least buy some time and avoid the big search. She might even want to do the searching personally, if she has a more precise location. I’d give her one at random, but you know as well as I, that HE is the favorite toy of Fate, and if I picked at random, even with these odds I’d probably end up picking the exact place where HE is.”

Tian’Zun thought for a while. Giving a location that was certainly wrong would be a much lesser breach in their ideals, and HIS was an abnormal case in the first place. He could see a problem though. “Would it not be counterproductive to give Gabriel the wrong location? Eventually she will realize that she’s been tricked, and that would only make her more mad.”

Michael smiled. “Yes but she’d be mad at me, not you. She would realize that I gave her the wrong information knowingly, and couldn’t really blame you since she had not spoken to you herself. And she can’t take too harsh action against a member of the Council, even if it is about HIM. She would also know why I had done it. Besides, if we send her to search a Prime world or three with a bit vague guidance, she’ll need at least ten years to be sure HE isn’t there. By that time, she might have had some time to think. Or one can at least hope…” He didn’t sound very sure towards the end.

Tian’Zun had to ask. “What brought forth all this anger in Gabriel? They don’t seem to be the type to really go out of their way to make enemies, and their personalities aren’t the type that would go against each other. You’ve known both of them for a long time. You should have some idea.”

Michael answered with a sigh. ”No, in fact it’s the opposite. Those two are too compatible. That’s the whole problem. To make things worse, when they met each other, they had no idea who the other person was. For both of them, it was a novel experience to make friends with someone, who didn’t just see their position or didn’t want to use them. For HIM, she was perhaps the first real friend HE had. Everyone else tries to make use of HIM. Even I have to admit, that in my mind I always had in consideration HIS usefulness should HE be needed, even though I liked HIM as a person. For her it might have been even worse on some level. She was thrust to the position of Executor so young, when her predecessor died. Of course she was, no one even had any doubts that she’d be the next one at that position with her power and good head at strategy. But she couldn’t’ have any friends that weren’t both her subordinates and her inferior in power. Doesn’t help that in many ways she was, and still is a very pure person.”

Michael continued with a nostalgic smile. “And then HE comes into the picture. Not only does HE not even know who she is, but HE is also roughly her equal in strength. And in so many ways, HE was also a very uncomplicated and willing friend. The problems started, when she started to think that HE might also be the first person to see the ignored and abandoned girl inside her, and become close to her in other ways. HE knew, but HE just wanted to keep the only good friend HE had, and love complicates things. It would not have been all that bad if that had been it. Countless male/female friends go through that amongst almost all the races, some friendships are broken, and some come out even stronger for it. The problem was that HE didn’t differentiate among races. To HIM the difference between a Celestial and a demon from Inferno didn’t exist. There were only people HE got along with, people who tried to use him and enemies. It was only a matter of time before rumors started, that he was getting cozy with the demons. And to make matters worse, one of HIS acquaintances was Khali. I don’t know who started the rumors of romance between the two. But you can predict the reaction Gabriel had, when she heard them.”

Tian’Zun was shocked. He had thought the reason for the anger between them was due to some incredible vendetta, power struggle or a revenge for a friend or something. Truth is sometimes much more mundane, if also just as unbelievable. “Wait, so the whole universe might get broken, because a possible love triangle? What are they, teenagers?!”

Michael gave an apologetic smile “Some of the biggest problems can have the simplest of causes. And do remember who the people involved are. To be precise though, I’m nearly certain there never was anything going on between HIM and Khali, but that’s not really the issue. I’m not sure of the details on what happened between them in the end, but Gabriel felt jilted and won’t rest until she finds HIM. She couldn’t really do anything against HIM when HE was still alive, but now? She probably has a pair of chains tied to her bedpost, where she’ll imprison HIM until she gets what she wants.”

Tian’Zun suddenly had a coughing fit. “That might be a little more difficult now.” He mumbled.

“What was that?” Asked Michael, suddenly narrowing his eyes.

“She might have some problems getting what she wants now.” Tian’Zun said, this time a little louder and looking away from the Celestial in a guilty fashion.

“Why would she…you didn’t?!” A realization suddenly dawning on Michael’s face.

“I might have.” Tian’Zun said hesitantly. “And there may or may not have been a blessing from the local Goddess of Love and Beauty involved.”

Michael’s laugh this time was both gleeful and from the core of his being. The undertone carried the feeling of a carnival. “This I have to see. Now you need to give me HER location, and I’m not taking a no for an answer! I’ll drag Gabriel here myself, and you’ll have no one else to blame.”

Tian’Zun could already feeling another headache.
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Vihyungrang

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