I remembered the dark, the fire, oblivion. Dramatic and yet profound, the scorching feeling of flames brushing my skin. Heat so suffocating it drew the very breath from my lips. The soft fabric of my clothing damp from perspiration and clinging to my form with every move I made. I had wished so desperately that it was but a dream. That he was not alive and had perish years ago, finally giving me some sort of respite from the years of torture he had rest upon me.
No… I was not so blessed. He had returned from the very gates of hell just for me. Yet, he was not my fabled husband, though his face and his very baring was so unmistakable. I am not sure when I recognized it was only the shell of Lorant. Perhaps it was the look of unmasked curiosity mixed with the desire to snap my bones in two. Nevertheless, that man stood before me with eyes shining a glittering bronze with the heat of the very sun. The gates of hell had been opened, an infernal army of demons set loose upon the mortal world.
Had my entire life been predestined for these final moments? I had suffered so much in the Riktophen Manor, my only escape was loosing myself in capturing photographs. A photograph could show so much. My talent, one could say, was capturing the true essence of my subjects in picture form. I could see their soul, their aura… their true self through the lens of that peculiar contraption. At first I was so startled, thinking perhaps it was an unholy possession. But, I had learned quickly such a gift was useful to me. Often I had escaped the plots of my jealous mother-in-law’s assassins by learning their intentions through the camera lens.
Several days before that moment, before I found myself staring down at the chasms of hell I had met an angel the very same way. A handsome man with hair of spun gold and eyes the color of the morning skies. I had never before seen such a bright benevolent presence. An aura of the most pure and unadulterated light. He was charming and kind, and I was so taken in. Love at first sight always sounded like such a children’s fairy tale, but I found myself smitten.
Raziel, my guardian angel. It was brave, and yet so futile to come and he had paid that final price. I believe he knew his fate, resigned to his own death. An angel’s duty to die for the sake of good. Still, with the knowledge of the war at hand, I wished he had not gone. To watch him die took a piece of my soul. I had no desire to fight any longer, to spend the rest of my life constantly battling for a way to survive. But… his final words, You must take the ring. The wedding band. Could I let him make such a noble sacrifice and dishonor him by giving up? I couldn’t bare it. Despite being frightened, weary, jaded… I had to take the ring.
It was the most terrifying thing I had ever done. After spending so many years trying to avoid the affections of my husband, to welcome them, to encourage them, all for the sake of retrieving that accursed ring. In the end I was successful, yes. But not without proving a loyalty I had no intentions of keeping. One would ask how could a feel remorse or guilt about a man that had been so cruel. I am not sure myself. I often wondered, would things have changed under different circumstances? This man, he loved me, a twisted kind of love. But love me, he did. Perhaps I was not strong enough to see past the fear he gave me. Or maybe I simply did not want to. You always want to believe the world is in black and white. Good and Evil. But there are always so many shades of gray.
I remembered the anguish, the fear, and the hope. All of those that died during that inconceivable war between the very beings that both protect and spurn this world. The angels and the fallen. Creatures of destruction and beings of creation. A battle that could have turned the very way the world spun, and yet not a human soul beyond myself and Mister Johnathon Morris know.
And so, I write these letters to you, my children and my children’s children. You must never forget the ones that sacrifice their lives for this world you live in. Do not forget that the world is in shades of gray, and behind every face there is a story. Protect the treasures I leave to you and past these stories on, for life is an eternal circle and one day you may learn from the mistakes of the past to prevent mistakes of the future.