This bits the longest, and it's definitely going to be 5 parts.
Nebris didn’t feel as out of place when returning to help the demons lay out everything. Azurel would make what he carried hover, get unbelievably cold causing it to stick to him or demand he speed up. When he stopped reacting to that she started stopping him to fix his apparel, keeping close to him which caused her to mess it up more than fix it.
Luckily it wasn't long until everything was out, the demons dispersed into group, talking about things, mortals joined their demons. Azurel kept him close and prevented him from going away by spinning him on his axis, as he tried to break her hold, before throwing her arms around his waist and drawing him in uncomfortably close. She would slowly loosen the hold, she always kept one arm around him.
He was fed up by the time the other clan arrived. Unlike Pak’s clan, they arrived as one unit. He started heading to Pak and she shifted him slightly, not as much as she'd been doing previously and two things happened, first he noticed he was beside Pak, second, with undeniable relief, he noticed she wasn't in the hall anymore.
“This would be my mortal.” Pak declared to the leader of the other group.
“I'm not yours.” Nebris responded, forgetting for a moment that as far as demons were concerned he was Pak’s property.
“He's wilful, but he is marked. Nebris, Gvetal”
Nebris raised his hand to shake Gvetal’s, subtly positioning the mark to show Gvetal. The shake was brief, but Gvetal didn't let go.
“May I?” Gvetal addressed Pak while indicating the mark with his free hand. Pak glanced at Nebris, after a shrug of indifference, he nodded. Gvetal traced the mark. Nebris felt a sharp pain, and found himself on the other side of Pak. “You trust him, perhaps too much. Is he why you insist on harm no mortal?”
“I've always insisted on that, it is why I met him. Shall we get on with the festivities?”
Various demons stepped forwards as Pak called out events, each demon competed in something. It started with simple talents, mostly musical and spectacles, then moved onto aggressive fights and target practise which took place in the grounds outside.
Nebris didn't miss that it was lower demons earlier and higher ones that stepped forwards as the events dragged on. Aware that most demons could do a wide range of magic, he pondered what Pak could do, princes either where heavily specialised with minor control on various others or had a great range of decent control.
He didn't miss Azurel sneaking in the other door before making her way to the front to compete in the elemental battle. Nebris was slightly surprised as Pak and Gvetal also stepped up to the plate. He watched Pak bend water from nowhere to surround him, Gvetal picking wind to try and break the bubble.
Azurel was encased in rock as she faced someone from the other clan who had turned himself into a fireball. She quickly shifted from aggressive to defensive as he overpowered her, bringing winds to buffer her between his blows.
Pak was doing better, bringing fire to the fight and catching Gvetal as the fire appeared below his feet. It gave Pak a break to douse the burning man in a sudden torrent as Gvetal put out the fire. The burning man didn't seem to be able to reignite properly, patches would appear and vanish after a few moments. He turned to relying on the gales he commanded to knock Azurel out of the ring or to the ground.
She did fall eventually, Pak moved her out of the ring without breaking his own combat. A dome of rock appeared around them, blocking them from view.
Azurel joined Nebris. He kept a step away from her and she allowed the distance.
“Are you sure you're mortal?” Azurel inquired.
“I wish I wasn't.” He answered.
“I don't know how you sent me halfway across the continent.” She recognised the confusion on his face. “Pretty sure it was you.”
“Pak said we're linked, does that mean it's not just him able to access me?”
“It is based off the relationship that you have at the moment of the spell. Typically the demon demands it, not the mortal.”
Nebris stood in silence, wondering if he'd gotten himself magic without having to become a demon. The dome vanishing stopped the thoughts running away from him, Pak stood with the guests on the floor. He announced it was time for the feast before helping the other prince from the floor.
Everyone queued, clearly by rank. Mortals with the demon they were marked by. Nebris jogged up to Pak, who was sharing a joke with Gvetal. As they started picking things off the buffet Nebris tried to shift food to his plate with just his mind. It worked, until Pak noticed and then every time he tried following nothing moved, though he could see magic surround the object. Pak was blocking it.
Once they left the buffet tables Pak summoned a small table and five chairs, around the hall other tables and chairs began appearing. Nebris sat, they were joined by two demons, the second in command of each clan. The one that was from the visiting clan stared at Nebris.
“What?” Nebris demanded.
The demon shifted his face down, though Nebris was sure that he was still their focus. It was hard to tell where demon was looking, his eyes solid black to the edges. “Mortals usually don't usually get invited by princes, well I mean ones that aren't dinner. I thought you were Azurel’s.”
“I've known Pak for years, he finally agreed to let me meet others.”
“Technically you already knew others.” Pak stated. “I have another concern, Davion demons have been talking about going for our closest allies. I want to even the field a bit should that happen, can't have them wipe each other out.”
“Are you asking us to side against you?” Gvetal challenged.
“Not asking, Vechs isn't aware that I owe my life to their leader, he needs someone he can't usually rely on if he's going to go through with this.”
“And if I won't stand against you?” Gvetal leaned forwards, steepling his fingers during the question.
“I'm sure I could announce war with you before theirs can start, and they'd have to stand together.”
“You'd attack us, to prevent your friends fighting? Loyalty is for mortals, let them fight. Let the one who doesn't see what side you're on fall.”
“Who said anything about loyalty, they act as barrier against strong rivals. This will be our last peace, until everything is settled. You know my rules, follow them or I'll wipe you from every world.”
“And you know mine, as challenged can I decide how many allies we can call?”
“Anyone you can get. Now the question is, does your mortal stand a chance?”
“He has this wonderful habit of befriending demons and sorcerers, he will survive.”
They started arguing over what territories would be up for grabs for the winner and where fights where permitted. Without warning they stopped and the leaders asked after those missing from the other clan, while second in commands flirted with each other. Nebris tried to keep out of it, answering any questions directed at him with lies or deflection. He knew better than to trust people who had earlier threatened him.
Once it was clear everyone was finished the runts in Pak’s clan began gathering the plates.
“Time for the mortals to fight?” Gvetal asked.
“Only those who want to.” Pak stated, it was directed at Nebris.
“I want to.” Nebris announced, he knew he was good in combat, and judging from the demons fights it wasn't till death. He also wanted to try using magic during combat. Though he had to hope Pak wouldn't block it. They got up and the table vanished.
“You can't try to use demon powers.” Pak instructed as the headed outside, out of earshot of Gvetal who was gathering his clans’ mortals.
“It's not my fault if I can use demon powers.” Nebris protested, glaring at Pak.
“You don't need it to win, and you don't want to show them the extent of what you can do, keep something up your sleeve. Anyway you don't know what you're doing yet, if you kill someone you won't leave here breathing.”
“I won't deliberately do anything. Is that MC?” He noticed MC stating just outside the bubble, which was visible in the air as he tried to break it with his magic. The clans were muttering of sorcerer, with a quiet undertone of murder, as everyone noticed him.
“That would be MC, I'm guessing he sensed you getting tainted. Didn't realise he'd be watching you, go get rid of him.”
“Get rid of him?”
“He's not mortal, while I won't kill him, I won't stop either clan.”
Nebris found himself beside MC.
“We have to go, you need healed.” MC told him, unsurprised by his appearing.
“I asked for this, and they are going to kill you.” Enlightened Nebris.
“I won't leave without you.”
“Fine. How did you get here?” Nebris queried, he couldn’t see MC’s car.
“Teleported, could only get so close.”
Nebris lead MC to Pak’s car, MC hesitated. “Pak’s car? Is he here?”
“He lent me his car.”
“You didn't answer my question, is he here?” MC persisted, he'd known Nebris too long to miss his avoidance.
“Get back in there and bring him out, do you know what demons do to unmarked mortals, and they are going to kill him.”
“He's safe, just get in.” Nebris slammed the door behind him as he sat in the drivers’ seat.
“Don't trust anything those demons told you, they will kill him.”
Nebris sighed, he had to tell MC what he’d promised Pak he’d keep secret. “Pak is a demon.”
“No, I've seen him on sanctified ground.”
“He's found a way around it, at least for church.”
“Was it Pak that marked you?”
MC got in the car and Nebris started it, planning to dump MC at home.
There was silence untill they were a distance away from the meeting.
“Do you know how many demons I've had to threaten to keep you from getting marked? How many battles, which I didn't want any part of, that you and your demon magnetism placed me in? Then you get marked at a clan gathering, which I didn't even know ever happens!” MC exploded.
“He didn't want to mark me, it was when he realised that he couldn't control the other clan that he relented.” Nebris kept calm, though he couldn’t remember MC every getting this angry before.
“The scarring is surprisingly light for you having received a mark today. It's going to hurt to fix it.” MC reasoned, responding to the calm.
“I told you I want it.”
“Do you even know what that is? You've given part of your soul to a soulless beast! In exchange for what, possibly protection from other soulless beasts! You don't need that, you fascinate them! It'll just make you a target for his enemies!”
“Calm, I'm right next to you.”
“I don't think you understand how much trouble you've gotten yourself into!”
“Now you sound like Pak.” Nebris stopped himself from laughing, MC was cute this angry it was adorable if it weren’t directed at him.
“As much as I hate to agree with any demon, you are in well over your head. We need to remove that mark.”
“You remove it, I'll ask Vechs to make me into a demon.”
“You would willingly burn your soul!?”
“I want magic.”
“I will sanctify you, you do not seem to understand the price. Why did you not ask Pak to demonify you? He is going to want to reclaim you as soon as the marks been lifted.”
“It's taken me years to get him to this point, if it'd have known Vechs was a demon I'd already be one. Be thankful I don't need to be a demon with how it's turned out.”
“How it's turned out?”
Nebris glanced around the car, seeing nothing to shift, he held a hand in front of MC, and told his phone he wanted it in his hand. He smiled as MC physically jumped. “I got what I wanted, and Pak will teach me to use this properly.”
“Do you even know what that could do to you? Demon powers aren't to be taken lightly! Do you even know what kind of target that places on you? I thought it was bad enough that you're marked!”
“Pak said I have a habit of befriending demons?”
“Yeah, it started with him, as far as I know. Though I did not know he was a demon. Blame was next, I had to help him hide his demon presence. Though there's nothing I can do about on sanctified grounds. Then Etho noticed you, which was an uphill struggle. Unlike Blame who was happy just being your friend, Etho wanted to own you. It took getting Doc involved to stop him. Then I learnt a way to reverse it, so I've waited for you or Pak to get tainted, getting involved when I could to prevent it. I never thought you'd be a willing victim or that Pak's a demon, he hides it well, I can't believe he doesn't have a soul.”
Nebris waited for MC to finish his rant before arguing, “Not a victim.”
“You are scarred! Pak has no marks! How are you not the victim? Not to mention that you are slowly burning your soul with his demon powers. Should I be thankful that you are giving a demon a soul for a while?”
MC lapsed into silence. Nebris didn't know what to say, clearly he'd upset MC but he wasn't going to admit fault. He wasn't even sure that he believed in the soul that MC saw as precious. When they arrived outside MC’s, MC got out wordlessly and slammed the door. Nebris waved at him, he turned away.
Nebris drove to Pak’s, he let himself in. He taking off the cuff links as went up the stairs. He left them on the dresser, then had a closer look at the mark. It was sill glowing faintly, he could clearly see the scarring, and it looked almost gone. He left the apartment and after checking no one was around he attempted wishing he was beside Pak.
He'd missed the fight. Several demons were tending their mortals and no one was fighting. The visiting clan was beginning to leave. Some vanished after they'd left Pak’s circle, others traveled by car. Pak muttered something and the bubble that had protected the place from uninvited people shone and popped.
“Everyone who has any good contacts, call them to our fight, and if they won't at least try and get them not to side against us. I will get the Davions and the controllers.” Pak’s voice carried over the whole hall. He continued a quieter when he turned to Nebris. “Vechs or Blame first?”
Nebris was busy watching the thinning crowd, as many teleported away. Those that stayed began clearing up the hall and doing dishes, though they didn't use sinks, instead they formed water and suspended things in it, adding soap and heating it with fire. Mortals from both clans were being looked after in any free space, demons were clearly unwilling to leave their mortal wounded but not sure how to fix it.
“Pak?” Nebris’s attention slowly turned to Pak.
“Vechs or Blame first?”
Pak vanished, Nebris followed. Vechs glared at him, then recognised him and grinned.
“Nebikins! Since when have you been a demon?” Vechs called.
“Still mortal, you?” Nebris riposted.
“Do you think someone this evil could ever be mortal?”
“Frankly, yes. You're harmless.”
Vechs grinned wider than Nebris thought possible. “Harmless? You know how many I've killed today?”
“I don't want to know.” Pak cut in before Nebris responded. “And I'm not here to show you my mortal-”
“Not yours. I think you might be mine.” Nebris argued. “How else could I use your powers?”
“Technicalities aside, I've decided to enter a war and I want you to back me up, will you stand with us?”
“You have that stupid harm no unmarked mortal, my men are restless. I can't confirm they'll follow it.”
“You will stand with me?”
“Have you asked the Controllers?”
“No, but it's a grab everyone.”
“I'll stand with you. And I apologise for my men beforehand.”
“Good, Nebs follow me.”
Pak disappeared, Nebris waved before following.
Blame was completely immersed in whatever he was creating. Pak coughed politely shortly after Nebris appeared.
“What did I tell you about appearing while I'm working?” Blame complained.
“It's war, I need your help.”
“You owe me your life, twice if I recall. You could show me respect.”
“Fine, Nebris lets go.”
“Neeebris?” Blame squealed as he looked up from his table, eyes fixing on Nebris. “Since when did you know? How did you get Pak to forgo his no magic on mortals and accept his claim on you?”
“Accept his claim?” Nebris queried.
“Wasn't he the first demon you befriended?” Nebris shrugged. “He choose not to mark you, but he also didn't give you up. He had the first claim on you, I knew that, but MC didn't and he gave me a cape to hide my demon aura from magic users like him in exchange for not marking you. He's going to be so mad once he sees you with a demon mark.”
“He is fuming, but he's knows I want it.” Nebris made a mental note to try and prove to MC that he was still himself.
“Etho's going to go crazy too, you feel ready for that demon?” Blame addressed Pak.
“Took him down before, once I realised what he was planning with Nebs.” Pak reminded.
“I forgot about you destroying him after his attempt to destroy Nebs. You can be quite vicious when there's no mortals around, I forget you are the same person.”
“The fight I'm about t’ have aside, will you stand with me against Gvetal?”
“Gvetal? The resurrecting one?”
“Yeah him, standard kill him or submit.”
“You'll give me one territory when we win, I get to pick it.”
“Deal. Well organise it after I deal with Etho.”
“Have fun, you should cut loose more often.”
Pak vanished in a puff of smoke.
“He's leaving you here?” Blame inquired.
“I've picked up his powers, I've been following him.” Imparted Nebris.
“You don't want to see Etho?” Blame mocked shock.
“No, also Pak didn't tell me to follow and I have questions.”
“Why can I use his powers? Is it all of them? What is all of them?”
“I've never come across a mortal using the demon powers, but I'd suspect it's because you're more equal than most. The mark effect is based on the trust, usually the possessive demon gets access to aspects of the mortal that trusts too much, demons don't truly trust mortals. You however are clearly able to access aspects of him because he trusts you, like I do.”
“What did you mean by Etho trying to destroy me?”
“He was trying to break your will without magic, get you to turn away Pak, and anyone else that spotted you before him, so he could claim you for himself. Your entire being calls to us, I'm not sure why, I think that's why Pak never gave up his claim. He has this obsessive need to guard mortals, it's why he hates going out with demons. He'd rather go to church.”
“Why did Etho try without magic?”
“If he used magic it would both alert Pak and mean he couldn't revoke Pak’s claim. If you do it willingly then you sever the claim, once magic is involved you are no longer considered willing. Especially with his main magic.”
“His main magic?” Urged Nebris, was aware that every demon had a specific magic that they preferred, Pak favoured space manipulation.
“Mind control, he doesn't even need to speak to change a mortal’s mood or get them to hurt themselves. Last I heard he does need to talk to get them to off themselves.”
“How does Pak go to church?” Nebris asked.
“He claims it's because he doesn't use magic on mortals, though we will see if that's true now that he's marked you.”
“MC stated that removing the mark would hurt, how?”
“It always hurts when a mark is removed by sorcery. Additionally, anything that happens to harm the mortal hurts the demon, that's why demons protect their mortals fiercely. Having a mortal is a status symbol, you can keep a snowball whole in a fire. Since I happen to like you both, I'll warn you, Gvetal will be going for your life, it would potentially kill Pak because of his trust. You should figure out what powers you have access to so you can defend yourself.”
“The best defence is not being there.”
“You can always join me if it's unsafe with Pak. However I ask you don't appear if it's not dangerous.”
Pak’s keys appeared in front of him. “I guess that's him calling, see you later blame.”
Nebris appeared beside Pak, and searched the room for Etho, hearing a growl from below he looked down, Etho looked seriously beaten. Crumpled against the wall, swollen and bruised.
“You marked him?” Etho hissed. “You knew I wanted him.”
“I chose Pak.” Nebris told him. “I wouldn't change that.”
“Get lost Pak, and take that with you.”
Pak shook his head before talking, “I'm about to war with Gvetal, you can line up with me, stay out of my way or make an enemy that you can't shake.”
“And if I make him kill himself?”
“You know Gvetal resurrects, and that wouldn't count.”
“I mean Nebris, wouldn't that leave you wide open.”
“Could you really kill someone you covet?”
Etho growled. “I can't see him anymore, you've taken him from me.”
“He was never yours, he’s not mine.”
“You don't deserve him, he should be with a real demon, not one that is god fearing. You can't defend him, because you're too worried he’ll see your true nature. You told me once you'd never claim him, yet here he stands with your mark. I guess I should see MC, he’ll help me get Nebris.”
“That won't remove my claim, Blame’s or Veches.”
“Have you paid so little attention that you didn't notice him befriend Vechs? Or that any claim you might have had is gone.”
Etho caught Nebris’ eyes, his good eye turning red to match his bad one. “Die Nebris.”
“You're in no state to threaten me.” Nebris pointed out. “And now I understand why I could never best you, cheater.” He felt a heat, he glanced at the source, a fireball in his hand. It wasn't burning him. “Pak?”
“Calm yourself, think of mining?” Pak offered.
“I always said one day you'd break, didn't know how far you'd go though.” Etho asserted, picking himself up. “You've disgraced yourself, I will make it so you can never recover what you had.” Etho vanished, leaving them in his base.
“How do you feel?” Paks concern made Nebris smile. “You're not suicidal after Etho tried to force his will?”
“Not suicidal, what else can you do?”
“You've already gotten a handle on space manipulation, the elements relies on emotions. Anger causes fire, fear causes rock, calm causes water and determination causes wind.”
“Azurel was afraid?”
“She skipped her usual anything goes target destruction, picking one she's never competed in before, she had to be nervous, that's a step away.”
Nebris decided against telling Pak why she'd switched from her usual, instead demanding to get some training in before he'd visit MC and find out what he was. No longer could he really claim to be mortal, but he wasn't a demon, he was somewhere in the middle.