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Give Us Forever is, collectively, the fifth and sixth parts of The Kindness of Devils. The first part, Shadow of the Dragon, can be read here, and the second part The Burden of Tomorrow can be read here.

As his wedding day approaches, Hardestadt Delac is visited by an old friend with an old score to settle. Forced to confront the darkest deeds of his past, Hardestadt will grapple with a new plot that could endanger the Teraverse, and come face to face with the strongest creature he has ever faced.

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All spoilers for previous entries are unmarked.


Both parts contain examples of the following tropes:

  • Big Bad: Koschei and Baba Yaga form a Big Bad Duumvirate for Shadow of the Dragon, and both parts are ultimately masterminded by Malachor Archayus and none other than Aleviel.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Amatsu-Mikaboshi is one of the single greatest and most incomprehensible threats in Kindness of Devils so far; a snarling wave of pure nothingness that seeks to consume everything. Aleviel's entire plot is driven to seal it away from the Teraverse, and the mysterious "Black Sun" is harnessing it for its own omnicidal goals.

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     Tropes found in Shadow of the Dragon 
  • Affably Evil: Baba Yaga and Koschei both are quite pleasant, despite the ruthless tests they devise for Hardestadt. Koschei even makes pleasant, if tense, talk with Hardestadt's fiancee Erin.
  • And I Must Scream: Urizen's victims are transformed into horrible facsimiles of Belial herself, but retain a sense of their true consciousness under it, forced to act, but aware of it and screaming deep down.
  • Anti-Villain: Neither Koschei or Baba Yaga can really be called "evil", especially when it's revealed the tests supposedly threatening innocent people never really put anyone in danger except Hardestadt himself. Even the final fight with them is rather melancholy, as Koschei challenges Hardestadt to one last fight which results in his death, with him happily accepting it and entrusting the future to his old friend once again.
  • Arc Words: "Look to your sins" and "must we sin once and repent forever?"
  • Badass Grandpa: The original Hardestadt had to be in at least his late sixties and was fully capable of going a round with the Dragon.
  • Badass Normal: The original Hardestadt is the one who was fully capable of defeating the Dragon at the height of his powers, and only lost via a forfeit, a feat unrivaled by any almost any other fighter in the series. And this was as an old, sick, dying man.
  • Break the Haughty: The otherwise unflappably proud Belial snaps and flees in a fit of sobbing, panicked shame when she accidentally stabs her brother Astaroth.
  • Cool Old Lady: Baba Yaga, while Above Good and Evil and often quite aloof toward the suffering she inflicts onto the heroes, definitely has this, particularly her grandmotherly treatment to Hardestadt's estranged sister Alineia.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Hardestadt's identity turns to be that a man he killed during his stint as the Dragon.
  • Death Seeker: Hardestadt's stint as the Dragon was partially motivated by his death wish for the destruction of Arcadia. The conflict with his promise to survive no matter what was driving him insane.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Flashbacks build up to Hardestadt eventually becoming the Dragon through this, when his intended supernatural utopia Arcadia was massacred by humans, resulting in him hurtling over the abyss and becoming an outright villain pledging to conquer or otherwise destroy humanity.
  • Easily Forgiven: Explored, and ultimately subverted instead of played straight. Koschei rips into Hardestadt's allies for remaining loyal to him when they still have the knowledge of his stint as a murderous warlord. The story makes it clear as can be that for all the good Hardestadt has done and for has many lives as he's saved, there will always be that black mark in his history—and Hardestadt will never stop fighting to make up for that. Dani and Emma find it incredibly hard to square that, but resolve that he's still their friend regardless.
  • Evil All Along:
    • While it's hard to judge if he's truly evil yet, the demon Dasrian is involved with the supposedly-dead demon lord Malachor Archayus, and his goals are decidedly not with the protagonists' health in mind.
    • The mysterious and evil Urizen is revealed to be the angel Ezekial, who has become a vicious serial killer.
  • Exact Words: Baba Yaga frequently refers to Hardestadt and the youngest of devils. She is not talking about Hardestadt with the last one.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Hardestadt/Daemon became an out monster in the 1400s after his intended paradise Arcadia was destroyed.
  • Fallen Hero: The dynamic of this is explored: more clarity is shed on Hardestadt's stint as a Fallen Hero from centuries ago when he became "the Dragon," pledging to crush humanity under his heel in revenge for their massacre of his intended supernatural utopia Arcadia. Koschei, one of the main antagonists of the story, is himself a Fallen Hero seeking revenge for when Hardestadt betrayed him so many years ago, putting up through one test after another to test how far he's really willing to go to defend innocent people again.
  • Frame-Up: Urizen sets up Belial as a likely suspect in the attack on the peace talks between Heaven and Hell. It doesn't help that Belial nearly kills Astaroth by accident when he tries to stop her from attacking an angel.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The original Hardestadt allowed the Dragon to strike him down, in order to reach him, bequeathing his name to him.
  • Heroic Suicide: Koschei allows himself to be mortally wounded by Hardestadt so that Baba Yaga and Alinea can use his life to keep Amatsu-Mikaboshi from breaking into Creation. It's also implied to be Suicide by Cop to a degree to put an end to his tormented existence.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The mysterious Black Sun is mentioned again, as a powerful force behind the scenes.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Ezekial was a bigoted jackass who treated Belial like garbage in the past and was a self-righteous tool prejudiced against demons and devils. By present day, while he's still prejudiced against Hell, he seems to have softened somewhat and begrudgingly attends the peace talks between Heaven and Hell. Then it turns out he's the psychotic Urizen. Becomes doubly subverted in Burden of Tomorrow when it's revealed his present day villainy was due to brainwashing and he has a mental breakdown upon getting hit with the guilt of everything he's done.
  • Legacy Character: Hardestadt's own name is revealed to be a product of this: the original Hardestadt Delac was one of Daemon's (the current Hardestadt) old friends, and ultimately the one to have convinced him to reason when Daemon became the Dragon, at the cost of his own life. Hardestadt passed on his name to Daemon to be remembered as the one who slew the Dragon, and Daemon has kept the name ever since as a perpetual reminder of that day and why he fights so hard.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Black Sun is the force behind Urizen. But the plot involving Alineia is masterminded by Malachor Archayus, the thought-dead demon lord...as well as his partner in the effort, Aleviel herself.
  • Moral Myopia: Invoked. Hadestadt as the Dragon was so consumed by hate and pain he could not see he became a worse monster than that which destroyed Arcadia.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Baba Yaga is an ancient old woman, and quite, quite deadly. Easily one of the most powerful beings in the story so far.
  • Not Quite Dead: Malachor, old lord of House Archayus and the former master of the Malebolge, who was slain by Azmodan, is revealed to still be alive and one half of the Big Bad Duumvirate in the overall story.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Ezekial has gone from a dickish but harmless angel to a horrifying threat obsessed with Belial, renaming himself "Urizen".
  • Person of Mass Destruction: She's keeping it under control for now, but Alieneia is the single most powerful being in the setting, with the apex of her power dwarfing even Aleviel and potentially threatening the entirety of the Teraverse just by her own existence.
  • Perspective Flip: After multiple stories as the unambiguous hero, here it's Hardestadt who was the unambiguous villain and Koschei is the hero seeking to punish him for the evil deeds he committed.
  • Pet the Dog: For all their harshness to Hardestadt, Koschei and Baba Yaga are wonderful, loving caretakers to his young sister Alineia.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Emma is praised for being the "slayer of the Crawling Chaos's champion" aka Rich Jacobs. Emma is flattered, but disagrees with referring to Jacobs as a champion, calling him a pawn.
  • The Reveal: Several:
    • Hardestadt Delac has a hereto unknown little sister named Alineia, the "youngest of the Devils" foreshadowed about earlier in the story; Alineia came into being from the scattered energy of Aleviel's soul shortly after the events of Nights In Lonesome Arkham and has been kept after by Koschei and Baba Yaga since.
    • Malachor Archayus, the infamously cruel demon lord who played a part in Azmodan's backstory, is revealed to be Not Quite Dead—and furthermore, he's in league with Aleviel as the Big Bad of the story as a whole.
  • Sadistic Choice: All of the tests force Hardestadt to make grim, horrific choices: agony between the loss of innocent lives, saving innocent lives at the cost of others, and to kill an innocent little girl to save Creation.
  • Secret Test of Character: All of Koschei and Baba Yaga's tests. Hardestadt is instructed to save others, even at the cost of unbearable agony to himself. The knowledge that people will die for every monster he kills in test 2 is meant to see if he will keep himself from fighting and to help others fight in his stead. And demanding he kill Alineia for the Teraverse is to see if he will fight to save an innocent child. He passes all of them.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Urizen, the Black Sun's 'Lawmaster' is seemingly obsessed with Belial, attempting to hunt her while taking innocent people and 'redesigning' them to resemble her.
  • Take a Third Option: The second test of Baba Yaga. Hardestadt does not choose between innocent lives. Instead, he remains out of the fighting in favor of directing others.
  • Trickster Mentor: Baba Yaga's tests are all dedicated to proving the content of Hardestadt's character and desire for redemption. They double as a test to see if he can handle his borderline god-like younger sister.
  • Undying Loyalty: The utter faith and love the devils have in one another is especially pronounced here: they steadfastly refuse to even consider the fugitive Belial has betrayed them
  • We Used to Be Friends: Koschei and Hardestadt were once dear friends, but the Dragon incident drove a permanent wedge between them, and Koschei cannot let go of his hatred.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Koschei and Baba Yaga are trying to preserve the Teraverse and test Hardestadt to see if he can truly be a hero, harsh as their methods are.
  • Wham Line:
    • In chapter six, the reveal of just what the Teraverse-threatening power Baba Yaga is keeping is:
    Alineia: "Are you my brother?"
    • One of the single biggest in the series toward the end, when the mastermind behind the elaborate conspiracy spanning throughout the story: after Malachor Archayus is revealed to have seemingly been revealed as the mastermind behind all the events up to now, Malachor closes the story by meeting with his partner:
    Malachor: "Shall we proceed then? With the next phase of our plan? Aleviel?
  • What You Are in the Dark: Hardestadt's tests are designed to see if he's truly changed and become a better person or if, deep down, he's going to take the easy road and let others suffer for him.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Koschei has become exhausted with his immortality, especially when it's become hollow and all he has to live for is his hatred and revenge on Hardestadt.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Hardestadt still grapples with the questions of his own morality and if he even deserves happiness for his sins. His friends are around to remind him that while they can't pardon him for what he's done, his actions since have defined him as a good person.

     Tropes found in The Burden of Tomorrow (unmarked spoilers for Shadow of the Dragon

  • Abusive Parents:
    • As sincere as Aleviel's intention may be to give her son a "world without tears", she's utterly unhesitating to put him through horrific psychological torture and kill him to remake him "perfectly." Though it turns out, while her plan involves physically and emotionally torturing him, she was lying about killing and remaking him.
    • Malachor's nameless father, in his flashbacks, is almost singlehandedly responsible for Malachor having turned into the dreaded monster he is in the present day, turning him from a relatively normal demon into a supernatural weapon only capable of feeling pain in his crusade to take over Heaven, throwing him over the Despair Event Horizon with a few simple words: "Not even for one single, solitary instant did I ever love you!"
  • All-Powerful Bystander: Hastur, the King in Yellow, is a mighty Outer God who reigns in Carcosa. As a result, Hastur is one of the strongest beings in the setting but is decidedly neutral in the conflict, having no interest now that Nyarlathotep is dead.
  • Almighty Mom: Hardstadt describes Erin's human mother Naomi as being more intimidating then his three supernatural mothers.
  • Always a Child to Parent: Naomi tells Erin that she is her "Little girl. Mine. Always" in response to Erin's protests that she is "practically thirty".
  • Back from the Dead: A particularly cruel instance. Malachor, who was tricked into killing his own sister and is forced into becoming an eternally-anguished puppet of his father, longs for nothing more than death's embrace above everything. He gets it... for all of a chapter, before he's brought back to life by Mr. Z.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: The fight with Dasrian is almost entirely mental as he attempts to consume the minds of his opponents with their worst fears and memories.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Ezekial can't compare to Malachor and Aleviel. He's easily outwitted and defeated by them, playing to their plan all along.
  • Breaking Speech: Aleviel triggers Hardestadt's Heroic BSoD merely by verbally ripping apart all of his convictions when he finally learns the truth:
    Aleviel: "For a moment, you showed Malachor a glimpse of your true strength. The seal I placed on you so long ago has since weakened... But you cannot stop me, Daemon. If you try, you'll only die. And that's okay. Because I'll remake you anew, along with everything else. Just as you should be. Don't try and stop me now. You do not have the power to stop me. Nor the fortitude. Nor the will. Nor the courage. And you never will."
  • The Chessmaster: Aleviel has masterminded everything in both stories. Even all of Baba Yaga's schemes, a consummate chessmaster herself, was within Aleviel's oversight and ultimate design, all for the purpose of remolding the Teraverse itself. Even her apparent goal is a ruse built to enrage Stadt enough to build the energy needed to seal Amatsu-Mikaboshi out and save the Teraverse—and keep Aliniea alive as she does it.
  • Death Seeker: Most of Malachor's evil is to create someone to destroy him, longing to die and be free of the nightmarish existence that is his entire life. Malachor achieves his goal at the climax and dies in complete peace and gratitude—only for Mr. Z to resurrect him in the name of the Black Sun.
  • Decoy Damsel: She's still decidedly on the heroes' side, but Tyravana is very much in the know about Aleviel's plan and willingly allowed herself to become a captive of Urizen to assist everyone else.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Like most devils and demons Azazel Baal had no issue with gender. Unlike them, he also has no issue with consent, having a massive "Court of the Broken" consisting of sexual slaves, one of his own son.
  • The Dreaded: Malachor Archayus is feared by heaven and hell alike with damn good reason.
  • Driven to Suicide: No longer believing herself worthy of life after everything she's done, Aleviel attempts to toss herself to oblivion in the end. Hardestadt doesn't let her.
  • Driven to Villainy: Thanks to a horrific spell, Malachor is numb, utterly sealed off from feeling and pleasure except in the pain of others. He had no choice but to become a monster, and despises every moment of it.
  • Exact Words: "Make him see you kill the ones you love." Hardestadt only has to see it—and Malachor pulls that off with a lifelike illusion.
  • Forced to Watch: Aleviel's orders Malachor to take and Hardestadt "make him see you kill the ones you love." Erin's seeming death through this is a ruse, though, calculated to enrage Stadt.
  • Heroic BSoD: Hardestadt is hit hard when it's finally revealed that Aleviel, his own mother, is the Big Bad.
  • Hero's Evil Predecessor: Malachor was originally the ruler of the eighth circle of Hell before Azmodan killed him in a duel and earned his title.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Aleviel's entire plot is one of these. The emotional anguish she puts Hardestadt and his allies through is no lie, but her "remake the Teraverse" plot is a complete farce. Hardestadt even tells her she's terrible at playing the part of a conniving villain.
  • Hidden Depths: Malachor Archayus is, on the surface, a ruthless and utterly stoic demon with a known history of mass torture and murder who is entirely willing to participate in Aleviel and Urizen's schemes. Beneath the monstrous, feared exterior, Malachor is hinted to be someone much wiser and solemn, with hints of softness that come out with Ali. As it turns out, all of this revolves around the revelation of his horrific past; Malachor's own father transformed him into his broken toy, and anything aside from the ability to wring pain from others has long eroded from the demon lord.
  • I Am the Noun: Urizen claims to be the Black Sun's 'Lawmaster.' When he discovers he was being manipulated by Malachor and Dasrian he rants about this but it comes of as pathetic posturing and he is seemingly killed shortly after.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: The reason for a lot of Malachor's evil is that he can't kill himself thanks to his curse and so he finds people with potential, murders everything they care for and hopes they'll grow strong enough to kill him.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Aleviel's justification for her actions. While they could arguably be called necessary, the fact that she assumed she knew better than everyone else and made her decision without consulting anyone, causes her loved ones to point out that there could have been another, less cruel way to achieve her ends, but because she made the decision on her own, they'll never know now.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • While Aleviel's alliance with Malachor was revealed to the audience at the end of Shadow of the Dragon, it's only in chapter 6 of The Burden of Tomorrow that Hardstedt and his friends discover it.
    • Similarly, Urizen's identity was revealed to be Ezekial at the end of Shadow of the Dragon but is mentioned early on here.
  • In Their Own Image: Aleviel's ultimate goal is to remake the world clean of all flaws—including Hardestadt himself. Though it turns out to be a lie to mask her true goal, to save the Teraverse and her daughter's life.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Malachor offers Azmodan a drink of wine, and notes that "if I intended to poison you, I'd be far subtler about it".
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Malachor and Dasrian beat and nearly kill depraved self-righteous, megalomaniacal serial killer Urizen. The latter did it because he's disgusted by him, the former because he annoyed him.
  • Licked by the Dog: One of the first major signs Malachor isn't pure evil (albeit still undeniably worthy of his reputation) is Ali's innocent fondness for him, which Malachor seems to share.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The next time Ezekial's found after having been freed from the Black Sun's control, he's curled in a ball and whimpering in utter horror with himself.
  • Never My Fault: Urizen has a great amount of difficulty accepting any blame for any failing, even murdering a captive during a moment of stress and promptly blaming Zadkiel for angering him to that point.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Nephara's speech to Aleviel back in A Conspiracy of Serpents ends up finally getting her into action, only to turn her into a Well-Intentioned Extremist wanting to reset the word to make it free of pain.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Malachor invites Azmodan to his palace the day before there Duel to the Death, and offers him wine to drink.
  • Not So Stoic: Dasrian very, very rarely emotes until the end, when he goes into a furious rant as he describes his backstory and why he is so loyal to Malachor.
  • Offing the Offspring: After Aleviel reveals her allegiance with Malachor to Hardstadt, she seemingly allows Malachor to try to kill Hardstadt and his friends.
  • Pet the Dog: For all of the nightmarish evils Malachor commits, he's kind to little Alineia and secretly rescues the families of Urizen's victims, reuniting them with those he can. As he states, he tries to balance countless irredeemable sins with 'a scant handful of inadequate charities.'
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Ezekial, or Urizen, isn't just one of the nastiest angels to have come out of Heaven's ranks, but a prejudiced scumbag who wants to wipe out the demons and devils in earnest and, more personally, possessed of a vile misogyny toward the transgender Belial which translates to sick, twisted obsession. This, however, is largely a result of the Black Sun corrupting him; Ezekial was always a prejudiced jerkass, but the Black Sun bloats it to horrific levels.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Emma is again praised for being the "slayer of the Crawling Chaos's champion", this time by Zadkiel, and again disagrees with referring to Jacobs as a champion but decides not to say anything this time. He also praises Grete for being the "Slayer of Orochimaru and the champion of the White Silence" referring to Yamada and Siegfried respectively.
  • Royal "We": Urizen tells Malachor that "The Black Sun does not approve of your insolence, nor your recklessness", and when Malachor objects to such language, Urizen is quick to put him in his place.
  • Sadist: Malachor really, really enjoys the suffering of others, to an almost ludicrous degree. Then it turns out he was made this way due to a curse placed on him by his father and that he's truly incapable of caring about anything other than causing others pain, even if he wishes otherwise and does try to do good deeds occasionally because he knows a person should.
  • Sex Slave: All of Azazel Baal's 'Court of the Broken' members were sex slaves whose minds had been destroyed by him. Including Dasrian, who is the only survivor of the Court.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Once it's revealed Ezekial was brainwashed into committing all his crimes and has his mind practically shattered by the ensuing guilt even Belial pities him, in spite of her former resentment.
  • Title Drop: During his "World of Cardboard" Speech Hardestadt says "I'll make mistakes, and I might keep making them... but I'll keep going. That's what we're holding on our backs... the burden of tomorrow".
  • Tragic Villain: All of the villains turn out to be this toward the end.
    • Aleviel is shattered by all the pointless bloodshed she caused in the war of Heaven and Hell and the paradox of her loving nature conflicting with that, and boils down her actions to "what is one more drop of blood in an ocean?". She ends the story feeling as alone as she did in the Garden even with the Teraverse saved by her plot, with nothing more than the torment of her own sins to keep her company.
    • Dasrian is indicated to have lived a tormented life that has led to his Undying Loyalty toward Malachor. He was part of his father Azazel's "Court of the Broken" consisting of sexual slaves. He was the only one who could retain his mind throughout the ordeal which made it even worse as he could realize what he had become. It was being rescued by Malachor and given a new purpose that caused Dasrian loyalty to him.
    • Malachor was twisted into a weapon and a puppet by his own father for his own purposes, destroying his connection with the rest of his family before admitting to Malachor he had never once been anything more than a tool and a toy to him that he'd never loved.
  • Undying Loyalty: Dasrian is loyal to none other as he is to Malachor, referring to his betrayal of Azmodan and merely revealing his true loyalties.
    Dasrian: "Being as useful to Lord Malachor as I can is everything to me! It is my reason for being!"
  • Unwitting Pawn: Ezekial/Urizen functions as this to the Black Sun the whole time; Ezekial was twisted into a lustful psychopath by its influence, with no action undertaken of his own free will.
  • Villainous BSoD: An unusual case in that Ezekial was never really a villain, but regaining his conscience and sense of self after he was made to become "Urizen" triggers a breakdown in him. The last we see of him in the story is him pitifully and wordlessly rocking back and forth, sobbing. Even Belial can only pity him.
  • Villainous Friendship: Malachor and Dasrian have one, the latter having undying loyalty to the former for saving him from being a sex slave for his own father. Malachor, for his part, treats Dasrian better than he does practically anyone else.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Vicious as Aleviel has become, everything she does is for the creation of a new world, where she no longer has to weigh all the lives she failed to save—whether lost at the hands of those like Ezekial or Apophis, or killed by herself in the long past—and to this end is willing to do whatever it takes, even murdering her own son, justifying everything as merely one more drop in an ocean of blood and sins. Her "remake the Teraverse" plot is a ruse, though Aleviel still qualifies by this in the end through the horrific and often unnecessary amount of anguish she puts Hardestadt through.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Hardestadt gives one to his own mother that also serves as a Title Drop, telling her the reason a "world without tears" can't exist is because it's their responsibility to make sure the suffering of themselves and everyone else isn't for nothing—because without the suffering needed to grow, people aren't who they are.:
    Hardestadt: I'm against you. That's my conviction[...] I won't deny I have my flaws, I won't deny I'll make mistakes, and I might kept making them... but I'll keep going. That's what we're holding on our backs... the burden of tomorrow.
    • He has another at the very end of the story, rebutting Aleviel for the last time and telling her she's awful at playing the part of a villain.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Malachor, a tortured puppet of his father, is killed in the climax as he's always yearned for, only to be resurrected at the very end of the story once again.
  • You Killed My Father: In the past, Malachor slaughtered Azmodan's friends and lovers. Naturally Azmodan comes seeking revenge and even managed to slay Malachor despite his monstrous power and reputation. Turns out Malachor invoked this by killing the loved ones of people with the potential to destroy him since his existence is agony and he wants to die but is unable to do the deed himself.


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