Inferno. Rishta, along with Azrael and Belial had flown from what was Heaven compared to this. Red and Black, all smashed together to form this picture. The sound of War filled her ears, so that to be heard, one had to shout. The clash of metal upon metal, screams of the victims of the blades, the shouts of triumph from the victors from a single round… all merged together into one continuous blast.
And then she saw him, Azazel. This demon was no demon… he was a dragon! A monster! Lashing out at everything, proud with himself, vain and horrible. She could see no good that could come from his being. She could only conclude that he had been born this way, and so there was nothing that could be changed. He was unreachable. And damned.
Sword in hand, Rishta was stunned to see Michael in the grips of Azazel, bathing in his own crimson blood. Oh no… With Belial, she attempted to free him, her heart heavy. God, it wasn’t supposed to end like this… it wasn’t supposed to end without… no…
When Belial managed to free Rishta gave a small sigh of relief. As soon as she heard him say “Drag him away!” she did. Holding him by the shoulders, so he was almost standing, Rishta pulled Michael and her away from the thing that was Azazel. No offense to whoever had created that portal behind Azazel, but she definitely did NOT want to be joining that dragon in there.
After a tugging Michael away, Rishta had managed to pull him to the throne, clear on the other side of the platform. Setting him down, she knelt by him, trying to see where to start. God, there is no way I can heal all this… but he can’t die… I’m so lost… Holding her hand over him, she began healing the wound, knowing there was no hope, but trying to go against the odds.
Then a roar reached her ears – turning, she saw that Azazel was being sucked into the portal, and he wasn’t happy. As the pillar swayed, Rishta held on to Michael, the newly formed cracks making her nervous of the platforms’ stability. The destruction of Moloch’s home… merciless. So much uncontrolled power. so much uncontrolled hate.
As Azazel made his final oath, Rishta shook her head. The power, this war… so many had died, and it was all because this man was so selfish! He couldn’t let Autumn go! He had to rule this world! Like every other power hungry HUMAN… and he thought he was better. Rishta shook her head sadly as he disappeared permeate. She pitied the fool.
Finally, the dawn arrived. Looking up to it, Rishta shook Michael urgently.
“Michael, Michael, oh dear god Michael please wake up! It’s Over!!! Azazel is gone!”
Raphael sighed. It was over. Finally. He turned, and gave chase to the fleeing demons. Many died under his sword, but most escaped. Some were simply being stepping stones to those who managed to flee from Raphael and the Armies. Raphael flew down slowly, his wings hurting. He went to Rishta and felt for Michael’s breathing.
“His Light is weak.” Raphael said, quoting Uriel surprisingly, “But I think he will live through…”
“I think he will live through…”
Michael could have laughed and called Raphael a fool, but he had no will left for the trivial things. He could feel Rishta drawing on her energy and trying to draw his own to heal his wounds, but there was nothing left in him to give. His life’s blood drained away to a deep pool on the cold stone. Saving him from being sealed in the abyss along with Azazel was futile, he knew what was coming.
Rishta gave a small smile as Michael woke up, even in this state to her he was… radiant, shining, handsome… perfect. Who would’ve guessed it? Rishta thought to herself. Or… maybe it had been the obvious answer all along. The park, at home, even from their first meeting. But when had she fallen in love with him? Was she in love? Confusion. Michael.
He couldn’t leave her. For a moment she thought she was going to break down. The mere thought of another loved one leaving her was almost too much. But then he spoke.
His eyes cracked open just a fraction as Michael’s blood streaked gaze looked on at Rishta. She was weary from battle, concerned… so beautiful… He didn’t want to leave, but Azrael was looming close. It was almost time.
“Rishta…” his voice came out in a painful rasp. No trace of strength, just a breathless whisper. “I was… going to.. steal a kiss…” His lips curled up in a weak smile. “I think… I need a bath…” he laughed, only to choke on coughed up blood.
“French cookie… I love you…”
Tearing up and smiling affectionately at him, Rishta was stunned to feel her cheeks grow warm at his suggestion. But he was so quiet, so helpless sounding. It made her heart shatter. Each breath caused pain, each moment was excruciating.
Laughing with him softly for the barest second, Rishta forced a quiet smile upon her face. How will I smile when he is gone though… How will I go on? He can’t die… he can’t leave me… Immersed in this thought, a tear slipped past her guard, and slid past her cheek. Choking, Rishta looked at him sharply, stunned senseless for a moment. He… he loved her? He actually… she had never really known that as a pure fact. Suspicions, maybe, but fact? She whispered softly when she spoke, so she wouldn’t cause him further pain.
“Michael… I… I love you too Michael…” Crying freely now, Rishta wiped them away, looking at him helplessly. Nervous, yet knowing that she didn’t have a century, she bent down a bit hesitantly, and touched her lips with his.
The soft pressure of her lips was like heaven. He didn’t dare try to move less the spell of the moment be shattered along with his body. Did she say she loved him too? He couldn’t remember. All he felt was her lips against his.
He wasn’t sure how he managed it, but all he wanted was one last touch. One last look at his beautiful angel. Michael raised his hand, brushing a bloodied finger across a crystal tear, leaving a streak of crimson along her cheek. Please… where ever I go… let me be with her again… all I want is to be with her… His hand dropped back to his side, and he closed his eyes. A contented smile across his lips. “Another day… cookie…” And he drifted away.
Raphael listened to the two for a while. Then things got really cheesy and Raphael could hear the air wheezing in Michael’s lungs. Shaking his head, Raphael stood up and walked away slowly, joining Azrael and the rest. He looked around, but could not sense out Adriel. Raphael went to Azrael and asked in a tired voice, “Where’s Adriel…?” Raphael paused and hesitated, before letting his question out slowly, a question he long wanted to ask Azrael. “If you might… let out a little news… How is my sister now…? Has she been reborn anywhere…? Is she well…?”
Belial was exhausted; he loss of blood was getting to him again; the pain and dizziness were intense. He had wasted his last energies dealing with Azazel to free Michael and still the Archangel had the nerve to die. This was the second time Belial had saved Michael from a trip to the Abyss – that made him wonder what had been the use. Belial walked out of the pool of blood and stayed away from the group; he let himself fall on his knees and sat on the platform floor despite it could crumble into the chasm any minute. He just needed to sit and breathe. Belial brushed his hand past his forehead and leaned against the Staff in silence holding it by his side, trying to catch his breath.
Samael Norse’s sacrifice had impressed him. Belial was amazed the human’s repentance had been so sincere, so brave. In silence, Belial wondered if he’d be able to feel like that some time. Probably not, he guessed. He was there because of Azrael; because of his love for her he needed to continue next to her and to achieve that he would go to great lengths. He knew from now on he’d be an outcast in any case, and he still had to see if the Council of the Order would allow him to continue to exist. Belial was absorbed in thought.
How come I was so careless to leave the ring on Lorant’s hand before performing the Ritual…?, he wondered. However, if I would have been more careful… Azazel would’ve not been defeated today. Monstrous child… but a child in the end. Belial narrowed his eyes, staring down at the floor immerse in his dark thoughts. The wind shook his feathers and the hair that fell on his silver eyes.
Azrael looked at Raphael; the wind ruffled her ebony feathers as he cold gaze met Raphael’s. “You should see about your broken wings”, she coolly said, “for Azazel’s scales are poisonous. I cannot reveal to you where Zeruel’s soul is; the Order keeps secret the destiny of the souls. If it is in your destiny to ever meet her again, you will; you might, sooner or later”, she cryptically replied. Azrael then turned to Michael. Filos flashed in her hand. Azrael slashed down in a swift motion and collected the soul of the Archangel.
“I cannot grant or reveal if you’ll ever meet again”, she told Rishta. “But let there be hope.” Azrael put the soul in her wings.
“Adriel might not refuse her destiny twice”, Azrael murmured, looking at the pit.
She turned to Autumn and Johnathon Morris. “Your courage has saved the world of Man”, she told them. “You have been of help; a keystone to this victory. Let your courage endure, for it’s not over yet.” The grim Archangel nodded, her wings swaying slightly. “Let there be hope in your hearts.”
Rishta cried silently to herself as Michael touched her face, for the last time. God, she loved him. And he had had to die. Watching him, relaxing… dying… It took her heart and ripped it right out. “Yes, another day… my love…” Then he died.
Paralyzed to the spot, Rishta could only keep brushing the hair out of Michael’s face. He looked so peaceful, so perfect. God, how could he be dead? Sure, Azrael had taken his soul… but he didn’t look dead. Nodding silently, Rishta moved away. She couldn’t torture herself with him anymore.
Raphael grew silent as he heard what Azrael said. It was already bad enough she refused to reveal anything about Zeruel current condition and now she was telling him something which hurt him badly. Raphael walked dumbly to the edge of the pit where he had sensed Azrael looking. His legs lost energy and he fell on his knees, his expression blank, and eyes of a complete loss. Adriel is dead, and Raphael felt like a complete failure. What has he been fighting so hard for earlier? He once fought hard but he couldn’t protect his sister. Tonight, he fought for the continued peaceful existence of humans, for his friends and Adriel. But now Azazel was gone, Adriel was dead too. It all felt so empty and meaningless to Raphael.
Tears brimmed in his blue eyes. Raphael wanted to shout out Adriel’s name, and wished she would answer him but Azrael will never be wrong. Raphael shut his eyes and muttered a silent prayer to all his dead friends, and to Zeruel and Adriel. Raphael stood up, and stared ahead. Yes, he will meet Adriel again. And when that time came, he would protect her at all costs, and not let her leave him again.
Without a farewell, Raphael took flight and disappeared.
The heavy crimson red clouds disappeared along with Azazel, the monstrous red dragon brimmed in fire. The Portal closed, the Abyss was sealed again. Above the night sky showed again all the beautiful stars Adriel had loved to watch with her two brothers in Ireland; scattered clouds seemed to announce the rain. Laying on her back in the edge of the pit, Adriel watched the constellations fade as dawn came nearer, making the skies look like a crystal gray surface filled with stardust. Tears silently flowed from her eyes, running on her pale cheeks. After the final explosion, countless angels and demons had died. She fell where she was on the edge of the chasm and was pushed back by the angels and demons desperately trying to scape from such a horrible death. Adriel had been knocked down, the demon sword still piercing her body. She laid on the ground damp in blood, a small patch of grass beneath her; the night was fading away and so was the angel.
Adriel tried to focus. She had still souls to deliver; she couldn’t afford to die now… but to choose was beyond her. “Bye, Adriel”, a voice murmured. Adriel tried to see who was talking to her but she couldn’t move. Leaning against a tree, an angel in blue robes and white armor smiled at her, drenched in blood. The angel smiled faintly. Adriel tried to smile but couldn’t. “Bye Annael”, she replied in a murmur. Annael’s wings shivered one last time, then the angel hung her head and passed away. Adriel’s tears blurred the world. I wish I could wait till the Dark One comes for us, she thought. A breeze carrying ashes and scattered sparks flow on Adriel, ruffling her feathers.
“Raphael… I’m sorry I can help you no more”, she murmured.
Raphael heard that clearly. The same clear voice. It was Adriel! Was she still alive? She sounded so weak! Raphael leapt and flew down into pit. The stench of burnt flesh and blood was thick in the air, and Raphael had a bit of trouble locating Adriel. Raphael was walking when he stumbled on someone’s feet. He fell, and the person was breathing. Raphael put his hand to the angel’s face, and felt for it. “Is this you… Adriel…?” Raphael asked, choking on his tears for Adriel breathing was irregular, and sounds like her windpipe has been blocked. He felt around, and touched the demon sword. Tears fell onto Adriel’s face. “Adriel… I’m so sorry…” Raphael wept, “I couldn’t protect you…”
Adriel shivered and weakly tried to move. Raphael was there? Adriel was not sure if he was real, but some warm drops fell on her face.
Adriel tried to speak. She needed a few moments to get enough air in her lungs to let out words.
“Don’t worry… about me, Raphael. Death… is a path we all must sometime walk…” Adriel tried to smile. “I am glad to know you are fine.”
Raphael could not take the sword out, it would just make Adriel die faster. He knew it was the only way to end her pain but he couldn’t do it. More tears rolled down his cheeks. “But I don’t want you to go….” Raphael moaned as he held Adriel’s hands which were getting a bit cold and a shudder went down Raphael’s spine.
“I want you to stay alive and be with me… don’t die…” Raphael wept. This death, he cannot accept.
Adriel smiled faintly. “You don’t need me anymore… You are more independent, emotionally stronger… You’ve got Zeruel’s gift… You’ve faced Beelzebub… and you’ve found someone to love.” Adriel slowly closed her eyes. “If I asked Azrael to delay my departure, it was because… I wanted to make sure you could live a happy life with Rishta.” Adriel made a pause and painfully took a deep breath so she could speak again.
“I wish you all the happiness… I know I was not Zed… but I just care for your well-being…” Adriel’s voice faded. “I tried…”
“What… what are you talking about?” Raphael sobbed like a little baby, “Over the years you have become more than a friend and sister to me…” Raphael’s tears couldn’t stop. He hadn’t cried this much ever since Zeruel’s death. This hurt so much. He felt like he was watching Zeruel dying all over again in front of him. “I know you are not Zed… but I don’t see you as her too… Zed is Zed, you are you… You cannot replace her, neither can she replace you… You are two separate beings altogether…” Raphael wept as he touched Adriel’s face, “I don’t want Rishta… I just want you…”
Adriel tried to focus. She coughed and her wings trembled slightly and her eyes filled.
“You are just used to me, Raphael”, she murmured. “We’ve shared such a long time together…” She tried to reach up and touch his face, but she missed, reaching only air. A silver feather was tangled in her sleeve. “Tell me you will be fine…”
“I will not be fine without you!” Raphael yelled, as more tears fell. “I don’t want you to leave me. It’s more than just being used to you… Don’t you understand…?” Raphael buried his face at Adriel’s neck. .”… I… I… I love you… Adriel… I don’t want you to die… or to leave me… ever… please..?” Raphael muttered softly.
Adriel had a shiver and a faint blush colored her pale cheeks at Raphael’s reaction. Tears rolled down her cheeks again and her throat closed; Adriel was deeply touched but the emotion difficult her breathing. She tried to take in some air and weakly touched Raphael’s hair as he leaned on her.
.”.. love me…?” Adriel faintly smiled, emotion washing over her like the tide. “You love… me…?” Adriel weakly ran her fingers through his hair.
“I thought… you loved Rishta”, Adriel slowly murmured. “I thought…” Adriel’s voice trailed off.
Adriel’s voice faded, and Raphael could hear nor sense her any longer. Her hand fell to her side and Raphael knew she was gone. Slowly, Raphael pulled the big ugly sword out of her and dumped it aside. Blood oozed out , black with demonic poison. Raphael hugged Adriel’s limp body and cried silently to himself, burying his face into her neck. Her body had already went cold. Raphael carried Adriel over to a single tree where Annael lie dead. He placed Adriel there, propped her up against the tree. Raphael pulled flowers out of thin air and placed them on her lap. He kissed Adriel’s cheek.
“Goodbye… Adriel…” Raphael muttered, “We will meet again….”
It took Raphael a moment to pull himself away and turns back. He spreads his six wings and flew away, away into the night sky, to nowhere else… As Raphael left, a single leaf of the tree turned gold and broke off from the branch, falling and landing onto Adriel’s hands on her lap as if it was a drop of tear.
Johnathon sat on the cold, unforgiving rock, slumped against the side of the onyx throne. The past few moments had felt like he was in a trance, watching himself from outside his body as he somehow managed to bring up enough strength to hold back the Son of Lucifer. Bringing along the Silver Herald was not a bad idea. Johnathon lifted the two silver crosses from around his neck, and stared at them as they rested in his palm, as if he expected them to jump up and explain to him everything that had just happened.
All around him, his extra senses were picking up the tell-tale signals of death, on a monumental scale. Hundreds upon hundreds of creatures, angels and demons alike, were annihilated like so many ants before a tidal wave. He could sense the passing of the angel Adriel, and also, that of Michael. He wanted to thank Michael for the daring rescue earlier, too.
So much death. So much suffering. And it was all his fault. No kind words from Azrael could help him, now. Azazel’s terrible words still rang fresh in his mind: Moloch’s taint is all over you! To hers I add this curse: You’ll never be trusted; havoc and hell will follow you and your soul will never rest! The taint of Evil will never leave your House and it’ll endure in your bloodline! Forever damned, only in Hell your soul will find its final destination!
A cold shiver ran up Johnathon’s spine. Never before in the likes of human, were, or vampire had he ever heard such a vicious curse. Worst of all, Azazel had the power to make good on his threat. And he was right about Moloch; the taint of that witch was still present. He could feel it, like a black spot in the middle of his soul. Even Uriel, the healer, could not fully remove it from him. It was a burden he had to carry alone, now. Azazel was gone, but in the end, Johnathon realized that he still did not win.
Johnathon pressed the Silver Herald against his chest, leaned his head back against the throne, and closed his eyes. “To my children, and the children of each new generation,” he whispered, “I offer the meager blessings of a fool, hand-in-hand with the curses of Hell. Though I will bear the brunt of this horror, I pray that your lives will be rich, full, and happy. May you live in a safer, happier world, where there is no need for us, and our legacy of brooding darkness withers away, turning to naught but dust in the wind.”
If she were any other woman, she would have lost her senses that night. But she wasn’t a normal lady. Not a gentle soul who’s only care was impressing the socialites of London. She was a woman who took pictures of the unnatural, married to the son of the devil, and friend to angels. No, insanity would have been a blessing.
Simple tears cascaded down her cheeks as she clutched the cool gold band tightly in her hands. She lied calling it a symbol of love to convince Azazel to give it to her. It was indeed a symbol, but not of love. It was a painful reminder on this story, one she would not let herself forget.
Autumn looked over her shoulder, hearing Johnathon’s grave oath to his future descendants. He wished them peace, free of the horror. But she wished them knowledge. She would pass the story of the Angels and the Fallen to her own children so they might learn the painful lessons and not be doomed to repeat them.
Belial watched the small group without a word. He was impressed by the humans achievement, but he still doubted they could scape from Azazel a second time for like Azazel he was aware this second Seal was far weaker than the original one, done by the Heavenly Host. Humans lives were short and they all would die soon… in less than 70 years, they’d all be gone. Would they rely on their descendants to face the horror that was Azazel? Belial had an unwilling snicker that died quickly. He, the Necromancer of Auld himself had known the unspeakable fear of being in the brink of destruction, despite all his power by Lucifer’s Son’s hand. At least the ring had been taken from Azazel and with it, much of his power.
Belial struggled to get back on his feet. He could sense many of his legionaries had died, but he was glad their souls had not been destroyed. To what end had he lured them to? Belial’s shoulders sank slightly. He held a tight grip on the Staff till he finally managed to get back on his feet, his wings slightly open for balance.
“What will you do with the ring?”, he asked Autumn. “He must never get it again… for he’ll recover most of the power he lost.” Belial bit his lip. “I… fused your husband’s soul to Azazel’s. He won’t forget you, but Lorant’s feelings won’t be in Azazel till he wears the ring again.”
Eyeing Belial carefully, not sure if he were trust worthy or not, Autumn considered the severity of his words. “It will be my family’s responsibility to keep it safe, then. It will not touch his hands again…” Heaven forbid her descendants ever faced such a terrible foe as Azazel, the Warlord of the Abyss.
Raziel… Autumn looked down at the ashes that were once Raziel, soaked in the blood of the angel Michael. Never had she met a man that was so kind, someone that could stir her soul. Did she love him? She wasn’t a romantic, or dreamed of such impossible things… but… Raziel… Oh, I wish… Autumn shook her head softly. Her children would know of her husband and the angels that protected their world. Be it by word or by writing. This night would be honored as well as those that died…