Beelzebub felt his energy flowing out of his body slowly, bit by bit. He pulled Hellswrath out, his head spinning. Holding Hellswrath in his available arm, Beelzebub staggered away but he fell after not long. The pain is spreading like a disease in him. Beelzebub moaned in pain as he crawled to stairs and leaned against the wall. Beelzebub stared at Gabriel’s body. A dying friend…? Are we even friends… after the Fall…? Our friendship broke… ever since you rejected Lucifer along with Michael and the rest… Beelzebub looked down at his useless arm and smiled in jest. Rejection…? Refusal…? I hate these two words…

Beelzebub struggled as he stood up. The war had started. He could sense Belial going weak, Azazel raising his forces and Moloch going crazy. All his past friends… who was going to survive? How many of them are going to survive tonight? If I die… will I ever be given a chance by Azrael… Probably not. I’m kind of detestable. But I can’t die yet… There is something else more important for me to do right now.

Standing up and holding onto Hellswrath tightly, Beelzebub left the manor with heavy footsteps. Beelzebub looked up into the dark sky and his eyes were fixed on the glowing wings which were flying nearer and nearer. Beelzebub smiled grimly as he raised up Hellswrath. Flames burst out and a loud clash of metals echoed.

Raphael gritted his teeth as Beelzebub blocked his attack easily. The flames were soft and it indicated something about Beelzebub’s current state. Raphael could feel the dim aura of his maimed arm by his side too. Raphael gave a silent prayer to Gabriel and swore vengeance on his behalf. He caught Beelzebub’s smile and Raphael was angered. How could he still smile at a time like this? Raphael could sense Gabriel’s horrible and painful death. Even if they were enemies, they are still old friends. Obviously Beelzebub had not made death easy for Gabriel.

“You killed my friend in MY name…” Raphael hissed as he pushed Strife down harder on Hellswrath with all his might, “This is an insult. A wound. A scar by you. Uriel’s and Gabriel’s death shall weigh on my shoulders from now on… but I will not let you go freely away with this…”

Beelzebub grinned and parried Strife away, sending Raphael flying back some distance away. He stood up straight and tried to ignore the stinging pain. Beelzebub nodded at Raphael. “Friends…? There’s no such things as friends to me any longer….” Beelzebub replied, staring into Raphael’s eyes coldly, “Since the day I have decided to follow Lucifer… I have turned against my roots and friends. I have abandoned what has given birth to me… hence, my friends left me. Even Moloch, Belial and the rest… they are the same.” Beelzebub glared at Raphael, “Belial has decided to return to the embrace of the Light, but he is not accepted. The fact that we are no longer friends but enemies stands…” Looking down at his maimed arm, Beelzebub smiled, “Look at my arm. It’s done by the power of the Light. My Light has been twisted into Darkness… Only Light can kill Darkness and vice versa. If you could, Raphael… Kill me….”

Raphael shivered a little to the coldness of the night. His grip on to Strife was tight. He was uncertain and it made him mad. What has gotten into him? Hasn’t it been his dreams to kill Beelzebub ever since Zeruel died in his arms… and in front of his very own eyes? The life of his other half… wiped away by this creep. Raphael’s eyes blazed at the memory. Yes. He would not soften. “You will die in the Light you so much desire tonight, Beelzebub….” Raphael hissed, not really understanding why he said that, “But you will never return to the Light, not now… NOT EVER.”

Beelzebub laughed, as if Raphael’s words were nothing but a joke to him. “I said, ‘Kill me if you could.’, but I did not say I will let you kill me. Do you even think you could do it, my dear little Head General?” Beelzebub raised Hellswrath into the sky, shut his eyes and began to chant a spell. “The Light is too blinding for me… it is not suitable for me.” Beelzebub whispered as he slowly opened his eyes, filling up Hellswrath with his dark powers, the blade turning into black color with a dark aura around it. The power of pure Evil. “Let’s see who should emerge as the victor this time, Raphael…” Beelzebub muttered as his bright eyes gazed at Raphael. Beelzebub roared as he sends Hellswrath smashing down. The blade seems to grow larger and extend longer as it hits the ground, stretching towards Raphael at a lightning speed, splitting the ground open. “This shall be the Death of you, Raphael!” Beelzebub screamed, “Azrael’s next victim in the Book is YOU, not me!”

Raphael flew backwards quickly but Hellswrath was advancing on him too fast The earth was shaking from the unholy blade’s strike and Raphael could feel the tremors in him. Raphael flew aside, and his left wing was stabbed through. “AHHH!” Raphael cried out as he tried to get away from Hellswrath but it held on to his wings tightly.

Beelzebub was laughing like a crazy man. “Hell’s flames shall burn you!” Beelzebub screamed crazily as his arm continued to bleed, “Burn you to nothing just like Gabriel! Poor poor angels! What do you get from defending the pathetic humans?! Nothing! Do they even really know you exist?! NO! They only believe in the existence of demons, of devils, of darkness… not of the creatures from the Light! Hahahaha!!! What an irony!”

“Be quiet, you bastard!” Raphael growled as he breathed in pain. Flames burst out of Hellswrath and scorched Raphael but he refused to cry out. No, he would not give the privilege of enjoyment to Beelzebub, who so wanted to see him cry and scream in pain! “I will not succumb!” Raphael yelled in agony as the dark flames ate into his flesh slowly, burning him up, “NEVER!” Raphael let go of Strife and it flew around Raphael and the flames. A large bright golden sigil formed around Raphael and it extinguished the dark flames. With whatever strength he has left, Raphael flew towards Beelzebub before his strength failed him and stabbed Strife into Beelzebub’s chest.

Beelzebub groaned as he glared at Raphael angrily. Pain and anger was written all over his face. “You insolent fool!” Beelzebub screamed as he held onto Raphael arm, attempting to break it in two. Raphael shook his head furiously, struggling with Beelzebub. // Raphael… Darkness… is a powerful force. It can only be encountered by Light… Black can appear White when the Light is blinding. But White loses all luster at the faintest sign of Darkness… Do you understand why… Raphael…? //

“Because… because…” Raphael groaned painful as Strife was pulled out forcefully by Beelzebub, “We all come from the same place… born in the same roots… in the same power. It is Love which gives us our life… and also Love which twisted us…” Raphael whispered into the wind softly, in reply to the question Zeruel set to him many years ago, a question he couldn’t answer when she was still alive.

As Raphael finished his words, Beelzebub stopped pulling Raphael’s arm and looked into his eyes. Raphael could not see Beelzebub’s look but there was some strange feelings to it. “You have grown… Raphael.” Beelzebub said with a smile, “I’ve been asked that very same question before… I knew the answer… but I never wanted to answer it because, I know I’ve done wrong…” Blood dripped to the ground drop by drop. A long golden blade was embedded in Beelzebub, stabbed through his chest. “You have finally succeeded in… in… a… avenging… Zeruel….” Beelzebub whispered as blood trickled down his lips and he fell to the ground as Raphael let go of Strife in silent shock.

Raphael heard Beelzebub perfectly, but he still could not believe it. He had managed to kill Beelzebub in vengeance of Zeruel, Uriel, Tabris and Gabriel. He should be happy. Yes, happy. But why was he feeling so empty…? Raphael could not feel a tinge of happiness within. In fact, he felt pain. It was as if he had lived on only for the sake of revenge and nothing else. And now the person who had given him the meaning of life is gone, he began to wonder how much he really meant to this world.

If you love me… listen to me… Do not avenge me…

It’s not that I do not wish to help you… But Zeruel’s Light is fading… There is nothing I could do to help her now… Even I could only do this far… I’m sorry… Raphael…

Raphael knelt down beside Beelzebub and touched the ground. It was wet and sticky. Blood. A large puddle of it. He moved slightly and Strife came off Beelzebub. He touched it, and felt the Light in it. Strife had changed into a long sword.

Raphael must have looked puzzled, for Beelzebub laughed softly. “I told you…” Beelzebub whispered weakly, “You have grown… Only will your power increase when you grow up in mentality. And that is the difference between you and me… You could not defeat me in the past… not because you are weak in power… but because you do not really know what you are fighting for… and what you are putting yourself against… Now you know….”

Raphael said nothing. He did not want to say anything. Beelzebub was fading away fast. As Uriel always said, ‘the fire of his candle is going out’. “I wanted to give you this… Always…” Beelzebub mumbled as he coughed, and more blood splattered out from his wounds. Beelzebub slowly opened up his coat and a necklace was hanging there, with a golden cross. A familiar sigil was carved in the middle of the cross. Beelzebub took it off, and there was a charred mark on his flesh. “It… it burns me every minute and every second…” Beelzebub whispered, “Yet I do not take it off… for it is the only thing left behind by… by… your other half…”

Raphael raised his head and his eyes widened. Beelzebub grinned slyly. “Why so… sur… surprised… Don’t be angry. It’s not for me… it’s for you. I found it… by the Tree. She left it for you… but you are never fit for it in the past. Too stupid… so I kept it for you…. In the end…” Beelzebub moaned in pain, “It just hurts me… Love hurts…” Raphael felt for Beelzebub’s hand and took the cross slowly, a warmth filling him up. Yes, the hole in him is complete… Zeruel’s power is inside the cross. Yet Raphael could not detect her soul. Only Heavens knows what Azrael had done to Zeruel’s soul. “You are twins….” Beelzebub muttered as his eyes began to shut slowly, “You share the same power and sigil with her… Only you… can open this cross…”

Raphael nodded in silence, and held Beelzebub’s hand for a silent minute before letting it go. Beelzebub breathed no more. There was no reason for him to linger on. The battle was going on, and Raphael knew that there was always a reason for him to go on. As long as Evil existed, there will be Light to balance it. And I will be one of the people to maintain the Light… Raphael touched the cross.

//Only you can open this cross…//

Raphael shut his eyes as he began to think back into the past, the times he spent with his sister and friends… including old friends. Raphael reached out for Strife, and in his silent command, it morphed back into its dagger size again. Raphael touched the sigil on the cross with the tip of Strife’s blade and a golden light burst out, blinding even the darkness of Raphael’s eyes. The light surrounded Raphael and he felt something on him. An angelic armor of pure gold, with runes engraved deep into the plate, which shimmered in the moonlight. Raphael thought he heard a voice then.

I am sorry… Raphael. By the time you got this… I might have been gone. I live for love, and I die for love. I have no regrets… I wish you a happy life ahead. Do not think of me. Cherish all that you have…

A single drop of tear fell to the cross then. Raphael slowly hung the necklace and wore it on him. I am sorry… I know I’m wrong… Please forgive me… Raphael stood up as he gripped onto Strife tightly and it grew to its sword-length again. He prayed for a moment before opening his eyes. “The battle has began. I will not run away. I will face it… and defeat the Evil, defending the human race and all living things in this beautiful world.” Raphael’s wings spread, and as if blessed by some unknown power, the hole in it began to heal and fill up. He took off into the skies and flew towards the concentrated place of Darkness, where Adriel would be waiting for him with his Heavenly Armies.

Adriel, Camael and Zoriel regrouped the Heavenly Armies and led them to Luna’s, where Azrael’s Legions had set a temporary stop. The moon had traveled through the skies and midnight was near. Once the Heavenly Armies were again organized and the angel ranks took their positions, Adriel and her two companions set a round to check the armies before the oncoming battle. Adriel heard a familiar voice calling out to her; she turned and met Rashiel, an angel of Destruction.

Rashiel seemed worried and concerned. “There’s one from Belial’s Legions who is about to die”, he told her. “He was his Second, and you might remember him. He was a Gate Guard for the Heaven Gates, and before the Fall we were in the same legion. He’s asked for you.” Rashiel shook his head. “Moloch struck him”, he explained, “and he’s been agonizing. If you’d want to go see him before he dies, I guess it’d be no harm. I’ll take you to him, if you wish.”

Adriel nodded and followed Rashiel. The news somehow startled her; the sight confirmed to her what she already knew: it was Mastema. Mastema was dying. Adriel remembered the flowers and the poem; it hadn’t been the first time he had done similar things… Adriel knelt down beside him in silence.

Mastema seemed to have dozed away, but he struggled to open his eyes upon sensing Adriel’s presence next to him. He had been using all he knew to delay his own inexorable death, hoping she would come. He had begged Rashiel to call her; feeling his own death at the doorstep, Mastema had nothing to lose. Mastema coughed. “Adriel”, he murmured. “Adriel, I am sorry I’ve troubled you to come… I know I’m not looking my best.” Mastema smiled a bit, trying to focus on her beautiful face. “I had to ask you something…”

Adriel bit her lip, leaning forward a little to hear him better. She watched him as he spoke; Moloch’s whip had burned him badly, he had lost so much blood the ground was soaked around him. His gray and silver feathers were ragged and burned, silent testimony of the fury of the archdemoness. Adriel’s eyes shimmered with silent tears. “What is that you need to ask me, Mastema?”, he asked in a gentle voice.

Mastema moved his head, trying to focus on Adriel’s face; most of what he could still see was a reddish blur. Mastema tried to mask his intense pain and he tried again to smile. “I was wondering”, he murmured, “if you like the flowers I left at your window. There was also a note… a small note; I hope you saw it…”

Adriel bit her lip and nodded slowly. “I saw the note”, she murmured. “The roses… are beautiful, Mastema.” She took in a deep breath. “It was… a great risk you took daring to go there.”

Mastema laughed and had a fit of cough; blood came out of his lips and he frowned in embarrassment. “Sorry…” Mastema blinked but there was not much he could see. “Not too much of a risk, mind you milady”, he said in a joking tone. “but in any case it was worth the risk if you smile.” Mastema seemed to doze off. Adriel did not reply. Mastema blinked slowly. “I’ve meant no offense and I’d be deeply sorry if I’ve incurred in your disapproval”, he murmured. “I need… to tell you something; I wish I had more time to express myself… but unfortunately I will free the world of myself soon.”

Mastema made a pause to catch his breath. “How far behind are those times when I stood watch in the Gates of Heaven, when the world of Man was young…! Back then I would’ve never imagined… there’d come a Time when I could not cross those gates again. If you are so kind, perhaps you’d remember me.” Mastema had a small smirk. “Sometimes I’d exchange rounds with my fellows to have the honor to open the Gates for you whenever you’d need to cross them. Such little things take a extraordinary value… once they are out of reach.” Mastema coughed.

“I need to tell you that… in my long stay in the Abyss, my relief has been to dream of a life with you. There’d not be a higher happiness I could yearn for. Perhaps I’ve been too ambitious”, Mastema forced a smile, “but I dared to dream that I could have reached the skies with the wings I have. Not the wings of an angel anymore I fear….” Mastema nodded. “I’ve been forced to learn some things can endure the Fall and even the deep pits of Hell. I loved you back then. I still love you. There’s nothing I could offer you, for I’ve lost all and even I will leave soon… but if you were kind enough to stay with me and take my soul, I’d be grateful.”

Adriel pressed her hand against her lips, silent tears rolling down her cheeks. She didn’t know what to say, yet Mastema was waiting. Adriel was deeply touched by his words; she had somehow expected he’d say something along the line, but her own reaction surprised her. Adriel noticed he was trying to look at her face but his eyes could not see anymore. She reached out and gently brushed his hair away from his face as she tried to overcome the knot in her throat. “If you’d choose to be judged by the Council, it’d be better for you, Mastema”, she said. “I… will collect your soul, but I wish… I can’t tell you what to choose.” Adriel bit her trembling lip.

Mastema smiled, pushing the pain off his mind as much as he could. “I choose… judgment. I have nothing too lose, I guess…” Mastema closed his eyes. “Thank you, Adriel…” He relaxed, allowing himself to drift away. Slowly, the sounds died out around him. Mastema felt a soft touch on his forehead and he smiled. “Adriel…”, he muttered. Mastema passed away.

The aura of death in Luna’s attracted Raphael’s attention. He looked down and he took in the vibes, feeling the presence of the Heavenly Armies as well as Adriel’s Legions. Raphael flew downwards and landed by beside Adriel. There was a dead somebody by her, and Raphael could not tell who he or she was. However, Raphael could sense that Adriel was feeling upset over the loss of that someone. “Adriel…” Raphael whispered as he touched her shoulder gently, “Death comes to all as you know. It is inevitable in this Great Battle. It’s time we all learn to let it go…” Raphael paused for a brief moment before asking softly, “Who is it…? Is it anyone we are close to…?”

Adriel gently took the soul from the body, the Blade of Life a light in her hand. The soul seemed to pound in her hand with an eerie light; a tear fell on it from the angel’s eyes. Adriel rose her head in surprise as Raphael touched her shoulder; she rubbed her eyes lightly with her free hand. “It’s Mastema”, she whispered. “Moloch killed him… He was waiting for me…” Adriel’s voice faded in a sigh. She turned to look up at Raphael. Her eyes widened at the sight of the armor. “Where did this armor come from? It looks like Zed’s…” Adriel reached out to touch the armor with her free hand.

Raphael sighed. He recognized the name. So it was Mastema, an old friend… Raphael knelt down and touched his cheek, which is already turning cold. He no longer felt hatred for the Fallen. Moloch, Belial and Beelzebub. They were all sad people for one reason or another. Born of the same roots, yet they turn against their own people. All those deaths… were they necessary? Was the Fall even meaningful? “This armor… She left it for me. Sealed in a cross she left behind.” Raphael uttered softly as he stood up slowly. He maintained silence for a brief moment before adding, “Beelzebub… He kept it for me. until the day I could kill him…”

Adriel nodded yet she was still amazed. “Beelzebub kept it for you? Beelzebub is dead?” Adriel tilted her head and half-closed her eyes as if lost in memories. She silently wiped her eyes. Adriel motioned to get back on her feet, then with a careful movement she picked up one of Mastema’s feathers. Adriel slowly rose to her feet and carefully put Mastema’s soul in her wings, then put the feather in her belt. Adriel nodded. “It’s good news you’ve got this gift from Zeruel after all these years; I am sure she’d be glad to know you wear this armor now. She would be proud, I know.” Adriel smiled faintly, absently touching the feather.

Raphael nodded sadly. “I… I’ve always wanted to have something from her… to keep as a memoir. And she did this beforehand…” a tear was in his eye, “Did she even plan to die beforehand..? It’s just so unfair…” Raphael tilted his head a little as he tried to prevent the tear from falling. “Shall we go now, Adriel? It’s time to leave the Dead and to finish up whatever we have to… We have to get that cursed child this time…”

Adriel nodded. Time to leave the Dead… Adriel cast a long look at Mastema’s dead body. The gray and silver feathers still visible moved in the chilling wind; the view moved her to a deep compassion and sadness despite she had seen Death in many terrible forms. The corpse however was not all the Fallen had been; his soul beat softly in the shelter of the angel’s wings. A warm feeling emanated from it as if the Warlock in his own power still had the ability of awareness beyond his demise. Adriel let out a small sigh, tears running down her cheeks. Mastema’s last words lingered on her mind. Adriel wiped her cheeks in silence and kept silent a few seconds to regain control her voice. “Azrael will join us…”, she explained. “Her Legions must wait for her. Adriel nodded. “The child… How strange it does sound. But yes, he’s a child compared to us.”

Raphael shook his head and snorted slightly. “You mean the brat?” Raphael said, obviously disliking Azazel, “He has an ego like his father, or maybe worse.” Raphael waited for a while along with Adriel. The battle had just began so he could afford a bit more time. A get-together would be good. Reinforcements counted in. It was at this moment when something hit Raphael hard in his mind. Echoes of flames burning and the wielding of a sword… Ezurewrath! Raphael blinked. The flames of the Hell. It was so strong it could melt lead. Only one Demon could possess such a strong power under his command – Azazel. Michael is battling with Azazel! Raphael knitted his brows tightly. Michael would not be a match for Azazel with his armies. He cannot wait any longer. Delay any longer and Michael’s life would be at stake.

Raphael turned to Adriel as he looked perplexed. “I have to go now.” Raphael said as his wings twitched a little, “Michael is battling Azazel alone. He would be in danger if I continue waiting for Azrael – Heavens knows where she is!” Raphael patted Adriel’s shoulder and smiled faintly. “I guess I will be seeing you then, Adriel… I hope that the both of us will live through this together….” Raphael waved to the Armies, signaling for them to move off. Raphael flew away from Luna’s manor, with his Armies following closely behind him.

Adriel’s heart was concerned and sad upon seeing Raphael leave. She still had to wait for Azrael yet she would rather have taken leave after Raphael, for Azazel was not one to be taken lightly and Michael would need all the backup he could get. The Armies would kill all humans if the Angelic Host wouldn’t defeat them this time. She wrapped herself in her wings like a white cloak of feathers, waiting for Azrael. Adriel had sensed the fight, too; however she had also sensed something different to it from that other fight at Westminster Abbey; Azazel’s power had something different to it. It was still hard to describe, but Adriel couldn’t help but to wonder about Raziel’s words.

After a long time of waiting, Azrael arrived with Rishta and Belial. Retaking command of her Legions, Azrael called her Legion Commanders for quick news. The angels agreed on following the Head General right away. Azrael ordered a first battle plan to keep the demons within a small area inside the city district for as long as possible; the angels of Destruction were to canalize the energies from the dark side of the moon, patronized by Azrael. Belial’s presence caused an amazingly mild surprise. The angels of Death and Destruction are in general silent beings; they watch and listen carefully but they talk little. Knowing from the Old Days the Dark One was to capture the Necromancer, the angels warily watched and waited for orders.

Belial stayed near Azrael, wearing the bands on his shoulder, where he was able to find out what had happened to his followers. In his mind, Belial decided to try and keep his former Legions from supporting Azazel, and perhaps find a different fate than run scattered from the battleground. Allowed to meet his former Legion Commanders, he had to face their questions, their resentment and their fears; Belial would try to manipulate them one last time. They had previously made their choice, thinking Belial was dead; now they saw he was alive and yet it was obvious he had gone through perilous hours that didn’t seem enough compensation. Besides some painful details about the summoning and what he had seen at Moloch’s manor, Belial did not offer explanations. He simply said he had chosen Judgment. His cool demeanor got the demons curious and impatient.

“Why?”, they asked. “You’ll lose yourself. What would you have to gain?.”

“I have my reasons”, Belial replied with a disturbing shimmer to his silver eyes. The demons were perplexed. It was still unconceivable for them the fact that Belial was not their leader anymore. His cryptic smile suggested something behind his words.

“What would we gain?”, they asked. Belial cast them a strange look.

“What would you have to lose?”, he replied. “Most of us are Fallen. Azazel believes that means you’re still at least partially, angels.” This arouse angry protests, Belial rose his hand and there was silence in the group. The angels around couldn’t help but to notice this. “If you choose judgment, you’ll still have a choice to survive. If you don’t, you know well what the Council could choose for you”, Belial said.

“What about demon bloods?”

Belial tilted his head. “You will be judged if you choose to be, but I cannot foresee the will of the Council.”

The demons talked among themselves. “Mastema believed in you and he’s dead now.”

“He chose judgment, as far as I know”, Belial replied. “The decision is personal. It doesn’t matter what I think. You must make your own choice; all I can do is tell you mine.”

The demons were amazed. “Azrael’s allowed you to keep your weapon”, someone pointed out.

“I will follow her into battle”, Belial replied.

The demons gawked and arguments rose. Belial did not add more, watching them. The demons growled and hissed. “How come she’ll allow you this? If you are doing that, you must have a reason. Is it revenge against Azazel? Perhaps it would earn you points of sorts with the Order?”

Belial’s cryptic smile was becoming unnerving. The demons began to think there was more to gain than apparent. After some reasoning among themselves, they made a choice. “Can we go into battle, too?”

“I cannot grant that; it’s the Dark One’s decision. However, you must remember the Armies consider us the enemy as much as their enemy is the Angelic Host.”

Azrael turned to the group with Rishta by her side. “I’m not taking prisoners”, she coolly said. “If you are to follow and choose Judgment, it’s your personal decision; if you wish to go into battle, you must be aware not all the Angelic Host will probably receive notice of your change of sides in the heat of the Battle. I propose this. Your numbers have decreased. I will ask my Legionaries to host you by groups and you will keep your battle formations next to ours. We will be mutual aid. If you betray your word, they’ll be your executers. If you keep your word, I will speak for your deed before the Council.”

Azrael’s cold gaze was a immutable as ever. The demons took this choice, accepting Azrael’s proposal. “Let us go, then!” The Legions took formation and left the ground, flying fast to Luna’s manor after Raphael’s Legions.

As they landed and as Belial and Azrael spoke to their Legion commanders, Rishta took a small look around. Nothing seemed to interest her much; her mind was on other things. Quietly, she remembered her own grandfather’s wartimes. The tables of maps, planning, formation, the knights on their proud horses… It had been exhilarating. Her grandfather had always allowed her to sit by them and watch, as long as she had been silent. Well, that hadn’t been too much of a problem. To her it all was a mind game. Plotting, planning, thinking AHEAD. The strategy was it all. And when you were done with strategy, you relied on the sword.

Glancing down to her side, Rishta grasped the helm of her father’s sword. No, she shouldn’t keep on calling it that… Father. You couldn’t keep on doing that, especially when the sword had been taken. Cadmiel, Rishta mused. Would it be a suitable honor to her father’s name, calling their sword it? Yes, she thought so. Pulling the weapon out a bit, she looked at the silver surface. Yes, the time had come for her to swordfight again. She couldn’t rely on her powers – they were too strange still. She didn’t know her potential with them. But she knew her potential without them. And she preferred those odds.

Allowing it to slide back in, Rishta sighed, and then subconsciously reached up to her hair. It was still gathered up, as though she should be wearing a dress, not armor. Pulling out the clip, face solemn, she allowed her hair to ripple down. It hung below her shoulders, blowing in the evening breeze. It felt more right this way, as though she didn’t have to be a prim and proper lady anymore… After all, Ladies Never fight with swords.

The demons with whom Belial conversed did not scare Rishta; in fact, they more or less perplexed her. They feared salvation… even though in the end they had gone off. Azrael had been so cold to them… and after viewing this, she realized why Belial had been so hesitant himself. Now, in the end, it all made sense.

In the end… only in the end…

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