Autumn froze as she entered the manor, the scream she heard sent chills up and down her spine. For a quick moment she sorely regretted coming back to the manor, but still that compulsion to be there tugged at her brain, insisting she needed to stay and retrieve her camera. She quickly ran up the stairs. She had to fetch her things before anyone realized she was there!
Beelzebub descended down and came to the manor gate which he pushed open easily with his mental power. He walked in swiftly, not caring for the apparent death of Lilith in the house. He had been silly earlier. He realized he had not really been listening to Azazel. The brat said the woman would be at Riktophen Manor and where did he go? Beelzebub went to Farishta Manor instead. Drats. Something had made him go there, and the information simply slipped.
Beelzebub entered the house and spotted the human woman running up the stairs. The echo of the scream was still in the house. Beelzebub frowned. ‘Lilith did have a big mouth,’ he thought. Moving fast, Beelzebub was on the stairs in a split second, just behind Autumn. Pulling Autumn with a tight grip on her right arm, Beelzebub smiled.
“If you would, Miss Autumn, your husband would like to invite you back to his side.”
Autumn twisted and tumbled down the few steps, gasping as she hit the solid body of a demon. She tried to wretch her arm free to no avail, giving him a swift kick to the shin. The stun was enough for him to loosen his grasp and for Autumn to escape up the rest of the stairs. The unexplained pull to be there was now over-shadowed by the fear of being trapped without and escape route. Ducking down a corridor and into a small room, she closed the door quietly behind her.
Beelzebub glared at the running Autumn after she kicked his shin roughly. He heard a slight closing of a door somewhere and he smiled. No hurry. He could find her most easily. Beelzebub climbed up the stairs slowly and took his time to get to the door. As he came to the door, he could hear Autumn trying to catch a breathing from all the running. He sneered. Knocking on the door, Beelzebub said pleasantly, “Miss Autumn, this is a polite invitation. Do not blame me for using force on you if you still insist on running away.”
“Bloody crazy…” Autumn angrily muttered under her breath. Did he think she was going to scream and beg for mercy? Be dragged to that devil of a man, waiting for some divine intervention? Glancing around the room he eyes fell on a decorative sword. She snatched it from the wall, hissing through her teeth at it’s weight. It was a struggle to hold it off the ground, but the rush of adrenaline was all the strength she needed.
There’s no use in fighting… there will only be others. Autumn waited, catching her breath. She wasn’t about to open the door willingly, but the brief thought made her falter in her stance. Just like Anastasia, there will always be others… I am so tired of fighting… She thought she was free when Lorant Riktophen died, only to have Anastasia as her enemy… then to have him return with more strength and lust for blood? There couldn’t possibly be a heavenly host alive that could be rid of him. Let alone get close enough to kill him.
But you can! Autumn dropped the tip of the sword to the ground, the weight being more than should could hold. Could she really get close enough to do some damage and survive it? But to murder her own husband… Autumn reminded herself he was no longer her husband, not that she had any love for such a horrible man to begin with. Strengthening her resolve, she made her decision.
Dropping the sword altogether, she swung open the door to meet the demon face to face. She bit back any fear or dread as she smoothed out the wrinkles in her skirt. “We’ll go then, demon…”
Gabriel released the magic that cloaked him in invisibility and deception that had allowed him to slip past the manor’s wards without detection. He felt Beelzebub’s presence within; and a fleeing energy that revealed the death of Lilith, the great betrayer. Raziel was right, of course. It was she who had tainted the Lightbringer. He strode boldly into the manor, his angelic features glowing golden and infused with mad rage. So the Lord of Flies thought he could destroy his only love, his life… Gabriel would show him differently if it took his last breath. He had little to live for, now. The Fall and now the death of Uriel had seen to that.
Beelzebub. It is a good day to die.
Beelzebub smiled when Autumn opened the door and agreed to return with him. She could be up to no good, but he wasn’t afraid. If she tried anything funny, he was not going to be easy on her anymore and he was not going to care even if Azazel whined and scream. Let the brat be.
“That’s good, milady.” Beelzebub said as he smiled at Autumn, “A wise choice you have made. You could never imagine what horror I could have given you if you had not opened the door.” Beelzebub whispered beside her ear before pulling back slowly and laughed softly as he grabbed her hand and pulled her away down the corridor.
He could sense an angelic presence. Gabriel. An angry Gabriel. Beelzebub always knew and noticed something going on between Uriel and Gabriel. Their eyes betrayed them. Beelzebub gave a sigh unintentionally. Had he not been through it before? He knew the feeling best. But he was only doing what he thought Uriel deserved to receive.
“Let’s leave.” Beelzebub said, “This place is crawling with danger of all sorts. It’s unsafe to stay here.”
“The only thing CRAWLING here is the flies attracted to your stench, Fallen! Perhaps its that rancid brand of pig-flesh you devour like candy, or the refuse you wear as cologne!” Gabriel stalked through the corridor, the Lily Sigil drawn and ready to fire.
“You’re a coward, Lord of the Flies! You’re nothing but weak, quivering hellspawn, quaking like a dog with distemper! It’s time for you to be put out of the earth’s misery,” Gabriel growled, his blue eyes like fiery pits in his white face. The golden feathers on his wings were splayed out like the scales on an enraged dragon; even his teeth were slightly bared, and his fingers curled like talons.
A muscle on Gabriel’s jaw jumped and he swung his bow up and fired, once, twice, three times in rapid succession, the arrows shooting through the short distance and screaming like begrieved banshees.
Azazel’s lip curled slightly in contempt as he tracked down Beelzebub’s doings with the aid of his magicks and a rather traditional solid crystal ball. He had made his demons bring many of his tools from the Abyss, but he had also took and used some things he found convenient in Moloch’s house. Azazel arched an eyebrow. He had always thought Beelzebub was kind of a slow mind. Azazel wasn’t fond of his flies – nasty little pests. When he was a little child, Azazel didn’t like the way the flies rubbed their front feet together, like plotting secret plans of their own.
Exactly like their Master. Annoying. Beelzebub went to the wrong manor as Autumn ran in the opposite direction.
Azazel sniggered with dark mirth as he had watched Beelzebub shatter the bones of Uriel’s face – a little bonus for the night; the Angelic Host had been deprived of their best Healer. Azazel nodded to himself. Even in his wrongs Beelzebub could be useful. However, Moloch’s treat had suffered a slight change. He’d need to see about that. Azazel turned his wedding ring around his finger, thoughtful. Autumn would be back to him soon. She hadn’t yet realized her own importance – an importance only relative to her position next Azazel. Get rid of her if she isn’t of any use to you, Belial had said; Azazel tapped his chin.
“Teacher, I’ve not forgotten you”, he softly murmured, his voice seeping bitter hatred. “I’ll show you you’ve taught me well.”
He moved away from the crystal ball. Azazel swept a look around. His improvised sanctórum overlooked the Hell Gate and the cave full of withering shadows beneath Moloch’s house. The space below swarmed with demons, flames licking the stone walls. Azazel went back to the black altar he had prepared. On the floor before it he had drawn a pentagram of summoning with the sigils of power for the Four Elements of the world of Man – the Elements of Belial.
A shriek broke into his mind, echoed and fell. Lilith’s agonic cry died with her, away. Azazel snorted.
“Always inopportune, mother…”, he complained. Azazel went back to his work with a shrug.
Don’t worry, dear mother; I can take care of the Armies alone.
Azazel added some final touches, preparing a ritual of summoning that would give his teacher an unpleasant night. The Armies were almost complete; Azazel was ready for the next step. He had changed to his demonic form: his golden wings with blood-like stains trembled in anticipation.
“Soon this accursed world will fall at my feet…” Azazel turned his wedding ring around his finger. “Damn Beelzebub – what’s taking him so long…?!”
Azazel went back to his crystal ball and peered inside, setting the Eye as he called it to Riktophen Manor. Much to his displeasure, he saw the Messenger challenging the Lord of the Flies to duel. Azazel smirked. Gabriel was sure older than Azazel himself, but even so the Messenger had the air of a young boy facing a well-trained, mighty and brick-headed Fallen. Azazel’s eyes shone with cruel mirth in the withering lights in the cave.
//I won’t wait till you finish playing with your little ex-friend//, he mentally addressed Beelzebub. //You’ve done extraordinarily well tonight. The Healer, now the Messenger… Squash him and return; I’ll take care of Autumn from now on, if you don’t mind…// Azazel flicked his hand over the ball. He chanted softly words of infernal; a gate opened behind Autumn and sucked her in like a vacuum, closing immediately after that.
Autumn was pulled through a dark tunnel of foul infernal winds, damp in the blood and tears of the damned. As suddenly as her journey had began it ended, the terrible speed confusing her senses. The Portal opened again, throwing her out and right into Azazel’s arms.
Azazel grinned and held her against him tightly; he flapped his wings in joy as he nuzzled her cheek.
“My love….”, he muttered. “Finally, you are back to me.”
Beelzebub turned as he heard Azazel’s voice in his head. He watched Autumn being sucked into the portal as it closed up totally, leaving him alone. Beelzebub grumbled to himself. Squash the Messenger? Who is he to command him? No, like Belial whose promise is only to Lucifer, Beelzebub’s loyalty was only to Lucifer as well. Even though Azazel was Lucifer’s son, Azazel bore no great resemblance to his father beyond his appearance.
Beelzebub walked down the stairs slowly and spread his arms, two beams in his palms which formed a shield around him. Absorbing in the powers of the Messenger’s arrows and rendering the attacks useless.
“Hello there, Gabriel.” Beelzebub smiled, “Nice to see you again. Your language is foul, you know. Uriel could have made a better Messenger…” Beelzebub grinned mockingly, mentioning Uriel’s name on purpose.
Gabriel’s eyes narrowed and he involuntarily shuddered and took a step back. “You’re disgusting, Beelzebub. It’s impossible to believe you were once any kind of angel. Taking your orders from such a pitiful being as Azazel- for all his strength, his birth was nothing but a mistake. He was conceived in hate and suspicion- and you ACCEPTED IT!” Gabriel knew Beelzebub was stronger than he; but the archangel also sensed the beginnings of a great battle, and Azrael’s legions joining it. If he could keep Beelzebub out of the battle- avenge his beloved’s death…
“Never say her name!” Gabriel screeched. “I’ll cut out your tongue!” He fired his bow again and again, now reinforcing them once more with the same holy energy that had brought even Azazel down – this time further strengthened with the wrath only one bereft of their love could call upon anyone.
As the arrow came flying towards Beelzebub with a holy light at the arrow tip, it was as if a hymn song was echoing in Beelzebub’s mind. It was giving him a slight dizzy feeling and he staggered a little backwards. “Fool!” Beelzebub hissed as he glowered at Gabriel. Chanting a soft spell under his lips, Hellswrath appeared out of midair and intercepted the arrow, bursting into a ball of sudden flames. The powers clashed and caused a loud explosion to which Beelzebub flew away to evade it. The force of the explosion created a vacuum energy around Gabriel, surrounding him.
“What do you know!” Beelzebub growled at Gabriel, “You don’t know me at all! How much do you or the others understand me?!”
Gabriel screamed in agony as a vacuum formed around him, tearing at his body and mind, trying to suck him away into nothingness. The keening wail of the attack spun around his shriek, pulling it away as it frantically sought to bounce off of the stone walls of the interior keep of the Riktophen home. Something crashed and fell away nearby; part of the manor had collapsed.
The spell hurt Gabe terribly- it was draining his energy, his very being, into a despairing nothingness. He could feel his body fighting against horrifying lethargy; a cold, stone-dead sensation was creeping through his limbs and muting his senses… He couldn’t fight something that was killing his soul, eating his magick. ‘…Uriel…’
“NOOO!!” He pushed against the terrifying energy of Beelzebub’s attack; it would not end so soon, he would not die without inflicting some measure of his pain on the Fallen! Gabriel’s aura flared and his six golden wings flared out behind him, straining and then bursting free of the black-gray energy. The evil spell hesitated and then faded away into shreds.
“What you don’t understand, Beelzebub…” Gabriel’s voice was hoarse from screaming, from weariness, ran through the silent hall like the sound of an ancient page being turned in a brittle tome, the weight of eons lying heavily. The manor rumbled occasionally, the sound of stone falling somewhere echoing like thunder, the whisper of tainted magicks moaning around them. “Is that the love of what you’ve destroyed… Is more power than what you’d ever have through hate.” Gabriel felt himself shaking; he knew that no matter what happened, he would neither survive this fight nor avenge Uriel by killing Beelzebub. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.
Gabriel’s hands trembled, pale-knuckled and tight around the Lily Sigil. An arrow flashed into his hands and he advanced upon Beelzebub. He poured all of his energy into the tip, which flashed and coalesced into pure, white light, stronger than any star. “I’ll be the sacrifice to wipe out the noise… When all things beautiful and bright… Die in your night.” Lunging, Gabriel wrapped his arms tightly around Beelzebub and pushed the arrow tip through the demon’s armor, into his flesh. “We do what we must… For love.” His face, only a bare inch from Beelzebub’s own, smiled faintly. His eyes were still bright, but they were glazing. “So just kill me. You’ll die soon enough without a reminder of me sticking out of you back.” Gabriel laughed, his grip around Beelzebub weakening as he began to slide down to the floor.
Beelzebub was shocked at what Gabriel had done. All for that haughty twerp Uriel?! Beelzebub tried to push Gabriel away but to no avail. The darned angel was holding onto him too tightly, refusing to let go. “We do what we must… For love.” Gabriel whispered near Beelzebub’s face as he smiled faintly. His eyes were still bright, but they were glazing.
Beelzebub began to get a little nervous somehow as he sees Gabriel’s expression. The guy was crazy! He had never seen Gabriel like this before, not even during the Fall itself. The arrow tore through Beelzebub’s armor slowly, and pierced into his flesh. Beelzebub howls in pain and he tried to kick Gabriel away but he failed yet again. Beelzebub glared angrily at Gabriel but the grip was too tight and it seems that Beelzebub could do nothing to get rid of Gabriel from him ever.
The light blinded Beelzebub’s sight temporarily and the angelic energy bit through Beelzebub as the power flows through his body like poison, eating up his nerves and fighting his own energy. Beelzebub kicked Gabriel away from him angrily as he concentrated his dark powers upon the chest, where the arrow had pierced initially. Beelzebub winced as the two energies seems to clash and struggle inside his own body. Suddenly, Beelzebub felt a horrible pain in his chest and a light beamed from it. Beelzebub was horrified. Angered, Beelzebub raised Hellswrath and sliced a large gash on his left arm before touching the wound on his chest with Hellswrath, and used its flames to burn it, forcing it to close the wound. The light was forced to move to Beelzebub’s wound on the left arm and it exploded out from the wound. Beelzebub groaned as he tried to curb his pain. His left arm fell limp to his side.
Beelzebub took a moment to get back to reality. He looked at his now useless left arm and turned, glaring at the weak Gabriel. “The damnation of all living things!” Beelzebub cursed as he spat on Gabriel’s face. Beelzebub raised his left foot and crushed it down on Gabriel. “You will die tonight, not me.” Beelzebub hissed angrily as his eyes flashed. Beelzebub raised Hellswrath with his right arm he stabbed it into Gabriel before flames burst out of it, engulfing Gabriel, burning him alive.
Gabriel laughed, a maddened, gurgling sound that hissed through the pain of the fire burning his flesh.
//Can’t… Even grant… A dying friend… A clean, quick death… Your hate… And that arrow… Will be the end of you… Beel…ze…// With a sigh that seemed to extinguish the flickering flames on his body, Gabriel’s cheek touched the floor, his eyes closed.
The wind carried his laugh and changed it into something victorious, sane, and joyful. A faint blue light shimmered around his body, with dancing orbs of white falling as the blue rose, splashing on the floor into golden sparks. The music that had echoed through London not too long before, which had once mourned the possible passing of a friend, spun throughout the chamber into the turmoil beyond, soothing wherever it found pain- friend and foe alike.
What was left of him, his soul, was finally free. He had one last wish, to whatever Angel came to gather him. Let me be with Uriel… Please, let us be together…
Riktophen Manor. Silent, frozen in a chill of horror. The faint, hushed sound of feathery wings could be heard as a raven crossed the empty halls like a live arrow. The bird flew through stone and brick walls, using the shadows as gateways. A blood-curdling smell and the crepitant voice of flames could be sensed down a long corridor in the first floor. The raven followed the unholy light of hellish flames. An archdemon of translucent, fly-like wings was pulling out his sword from a burning corpse; the raven zigzagged with agility, squeezing between Beelzebub and flaming Hellswrath and passing over Gabriel’s body. A blue light shone in the bird’s claws – the soft, beating light of an angelic soul. Without a pause, Azrael disappeared into the next shadow using it as a gate as Beelzebub freed Hellswrath in fractions of a second, carrying the Messenger’s soul away.
Raziel uncloaked as he entered the presence of the two angels; it seemed that Raphael was wounded badly – he had lost the use of his eyes. Still stunned from experiencing the deaths of an angel and a Fallen, he slowed.
//The Ring… Azazel’s ring… Holds his powers. Strike the ring, and you weaken him badly…//
Autumn? Before anyone could question him, Raziel re-cloaked in his magical shields and disappeared once more. He could feel a demonic presence around Autumn… He had to find her before it was too late!
Adriel shook with Raziel’s revelation.
Adriel gasped. “Raziel, how did you…?” But Raziel was already gone.
Rishta rushed into her home, knowing something had been dramatically wrong for eons. This was wrong – life was wrong, and she felt so helpless. Helpless and lost. And Raphael…
“Oh my lord…” Rosi paused as she saw them, knees weakening. However, she refused to fall.
Raphael turned and smiled faintly. However, he was eyeing at the wrong place and they were still bleeding a little. “It’s nothing serious, Rishta…” Raphael tried to sound cheerful, “At the most I won’t be able to see anymore but that’s fine. See no evil, as they says it…” Raphael paused and added, “And I’ve seen things I doesn’t want to earlier… I almost wanted to rip off my eardrums too…” Raphael closed his eyes and said nothing else.
As Rishta rushed into the room and Adriel sprang back to her feet. “How can you say such things, Raphael!” Adriel said in a low, sad yet firm voice. “You’re not the only one who has seen Evil and how Evil infects the world. You cannot pretend to close eyes and ears to it; how’d you help and protect the innocent pretending to ignore the Evil things in the world?” The angel’s green and golden eyes were filled with tears but also determination. “I’ve seen death in many horrible forms, caused by Evil. Still someone has to be there for the innocent.” A tear slid down her cheek, but her lip wasn’t trembling anymore. She had sensed Azrael and the other angels of her Order. “Rishta will take care of you. I have to go; Azrael is back. I’ll give Raziel’s news to the others.” Adriel took her angelic form and rushed out of the house.
Rishta was in a state of shock. In the course of the night two people were dead, her father was freed, Raphael was blinded and Azazel’s weakness was found. Too much. It couldn’t happen over an age, it happened within an hour.
“Raphael… why?” Rishta’s voice was detached and odd sounding. She walked to him and kneeled in front of him, crystal tears falling from her eyes.
There is no way I can heal this. I don’t understand how it works. Best I can do is clean it up and make it form properly. If Uriel was here she would be able to handle it… but I can’t. Might as well do the best I can…
“Raphael, hold still.” Rishta placed her own hands over his eyes and began to concentrate. However, she was brimming with emotion. Remember what Uriel said… don’t let the mind wander… Mentally exhausted, Rishta allowed all the emotion she had felt over the past days drain away. Calm at last and emotionless, Rishta began to heal Raphael.
Adriel almost bumped into Michael as she ran up the hill to meet them at the ruins. She was in her angelic form, accompanied by two other angels of Death and Destruction, members of Azrael’s Legions.
“Michael!”, she exclaimed. “Raziel has just left. Azrael fetched her Legions”, she motioned to her companions, who took a slight bow at the Leader of the Armies. “Azrael… collected Uriel’s soul. And Tabris’s. She sent us to let you know, Raziel brought in important information; he said: Azazel’s ring holds his powers. Strike the ring, and you weaken him badly.” Adriel bit her lip.
“Raziel left after that and Autumn and the humans are gone. Beelzebub left shortly earlier; he killed Uriel and Tabris.” She made a pause. “Raphael is wounded and his eyesight is gone.”
Cadmiel shimmered there, his moment of mirth disappearing in a moment as he became more solemn. My little girl… yes, this will be a good match… luck help them both… Straightening, Cadmiel took one more glance around, his dark eyes saddened by the fact he would never see again. Just as soon as Azrael took him. Never see this world, this earth. It was so beautiful, this world. The trees, lakes, rivers, plains… able to see the sky throughout the day: sunset, sunrise, midday… the scent of the wind, sweet rain, blessed warmth…
Turning his head once more in Michael’s direction, Cadmiel gave a wry smile. “I never did.” He then stepped up to Adriel, but not too close, and smiled. “Where is Azrael? I know it is time for me to go.”
Adriel had a soft yet small smile for Cadmiel and nodded. She motioned to the next corridor. “The Dark One waits for you, Cadmiel… Follow the corridor.”
Outside the ruined dining Hall, at the end of a long corridor and just before a silver stain of moonlight, stood a dark silhouette. The silvery light filtered through a crack in a sunken dome and yet outside a persistent rain continued to fall, there was silence in the space where the slight beams of moonlight found their way through the ruined roof onto the cracked slabs below. Azrael tilted her head, watching the strange lights in the distance and hearing the hiss of magicks and the voices of her brethren on the other side of thick walls. Azrael did not interfere, nor did she make her presence apparent. The archangel of Death and Destruction stood in silence in the empty hall, waiting.
At last, Cadmiel came into sight. Azrael opened her wings and a heavy darkness fell in the space beneath the ruined dome; the dark erased the outline of objects and the very moonlight disappeared. Azrael’s night sky gaze shimmered and a subtle light shone before her, like a sphere of unnatural luminescence.
//I shall guide you now//, Azrael announced, yet her lips did not open. She rose her hand as Cadmiel walked to her side. A thicker, deeper shadow surrounded them, but it was lighter on the soul – a meditative, contemplative feeling. The archangel and the angel walked out of the Human plane and disappeared. The dark receded and once again, the moonlight pierced the darkness and touched the cracked floors with soft, silver fingers.
Adriel tilted her head as she sensed Cadmiel’s presence vanish from this plane. Her two companions exchanged grim glances. The angels of Death and Destruction had a different insight from the others – with souls previously assigned to them to collect, they had a unique yet non-certain glimpse on who might survive and who might not.
“Michael!”, Adriel insisted. “What’s to be done about Raziel’s news?”
Michael watched solemnly as Cadmiel left this plane. He never realized how much he missed the guidance of his mentor until this moment. Once again Michael was left alone to face the world on his own. Make the decisions no else wanted to make…
“I will fight.” he said simply, in reply to Adriel as they headed back to the Farishta Manor.
Michael shakily ran his fingers through his hair, giving a deep sigh. Whether the others would be aware of it or not, the chances of facing Azazel and coming out alive were slim. Who ever battled him would surely die. He wouldn’t allow any one else to take that chance. “What ever this ring is, you and the others will need to find it while I take care of Azazel. If he can’t be killed, he must be re-sealed, and he’s sure to have his legions ready for us by now…”
As they reached the manor, Michael stopped at the door hesitant to go in. His one wish was to leave Rishta here, as far away from the battle as possible. But he knew she wouldn’t obey. Perhaps that was why he loved her the most. Rishta was no coward. ‘Not like you are…‘ Pushing his thoughts aside, they enter the manor.
Raphael smiled wryly. “Looks like Adriel is a mad at me.” he said coolly, “It’s okay, Rishta. Thank you for this.” Raphael tried to stop himself from blinking too much as Rishta tried to clean his wound up. How bad could it be, Raphael wondered, when he has been injured by his own weapon? It wasn’t filthy as those of the Fallen’s, he was sure. He smiled for no reason at all again, as he imagined himself tearing Beelzebub up in vengeance for all of his dead comrades killed by him, including his sister. Slowly, Raphael’s smile disappeared and it was replaced by a slight murderous look.
“Adriel is just concerned… don’t worry about it. I’m sorry I can’t do more…”
Rishta sighed and sat back, he was cleaned up, looked normal… but Raphael couldn’t see. Tears sprung to her own eyes – how could this have happened? Raphael… dear friend. And the others, dead. Heartless was war. She had never felt it for so long – but now…
The pain had reawakened. Choking back sobs, Rishta looked at him. She then realized dinner would be soon – well, they were very very late. Amazing how that seemed to insignificant right now. Eating… when was the last time she had eaten? She couldn’t remember. This afternoon? Tea cakes… and tea. While waiting for Michael. Michael… “Raphael… dinner is ready. Do you want to change before eating? You have to keep your strength up.”
Raphael turned his head over to Rishta as he heard slight choking sounds which she made as an attempt to stop herself from crying. Raphael was concerned about Rishta crying.
“Rishta, are you alright?” Raphael asked, twitching his brow a little, “You don’t have to worry for me. Sometimes things aren’t as bad as you imagined to be. A loss can be rewarding at times.” Raphael smiled at Rishta.
Raphael stopped for a while as his angelic senses picked up something. He frowned. “Rishta. Do you sense something wrong? I can sense it… The hell has broken loose… and… and…” Raphael shook his head, his face anguished, “Lilith’s dead… Gabriel… I can sense him together with Beelzebub. But whatever they are doing can’t be good… I have a bad feeling about all these, Rishta. This is not the time for eating. Go get Michael, will you?”
“Eat anyway. We are going to need the extra strength.” Michael stood in the doorway, a hard expression on his face. There was no signs of his usual carefree exterior. His back was rigid and his arms stiff at his sides. Raphael looked better, no doubt by Rishta’s gentle touch, but Michael was sure he still yet had some healing to do. “After food and rest, we will make our plans.”
Adriel and her two companions promptly followed Michael to the house; the two angels were at least one head taller than Adriel, who looked curiously small in comparison, but they did look like people who belong in the same company. Besides, the two were brothers.
“Azrael sent us to provide support; her Legions are moving to secure this spot”, the angels gravely said. We’ve got word that only the vanguard of the Armies from the Abyss have moved; the rest remains near the Hell Gate.”
Adriel, whose concerned gaze lingered briefly on Raphael, nodded but remained silent.
Raphael growled at Michael, unhappy that Michael seemed to be giving him instructions. “The leader has grown up, I see.” Raphael snickered as he touched his cleaned up eyes. Touching them made it feel better. Raphael laid down again, and had a bad feeling of some sort. He turned over to Adriel’s direction, his expression blank.
“Where’s Gabriel?” Raphael asked. He fidgeted here and there, before struggling the words out, “I could be wrong but I have a feeling that something’s really wrong out there.”
Michael’s already-stony countenance quickly hardened into tempered iron. He knew exactly where Gabriel was. Beelzebub was in the middle of killing him. First Tabris and Uriel… then Raphael is wounded… now Gabriel. Angels, Fallen, and demons, all being slaughtered like mere mortals. The world was changing, perhaps faster than it could keep up. Such a change had not occurred since the Fallen descended from above, and look what the consequences of that were.
What would this world be like without its angels…? “Gabriel’s fate is out of my hands now,” Michael replied after a long, silent moment. “He’s taken his own path now. We have more pressing matters. A tremendous battle is being fought, and another army is waiting on the horizon. Our forces are holding, but the upper ranks of the Heavenly Host are thinning. All that remains is Rishta, myself, Adriel, Azrael, and Raziel… and the legions…” Michael let his words sink in for a moment, giving the impression that Raphael was nothing but a blind burden to him now. “We are not nearly as powerful now as we were even mere days ago.”
“I… I’m ok…”
Rishta sat there, feeling so lost she wasn’t even sure where she was anymore. She started getting up at Raphael’s orders, but as Michael came in, she sat back down, trying to stop a complete breakdown. This was too familiar… way too familiar. She did not know why, but the pure hate of evil was beginning to creep into her soul.
And she didn’t like that feeling. Dead… that’s why you don’t like this Raphael… They are going to die, we’re all going to perish. You can’t escape war a second time… no one is that lucky. Rishta thought to herself, keeping the horrible visions locked deep in her mind, so not even Michael could tap into them. What was that old nursery rhyme? One, two, three, four… how did it go? Angel’s have locked the heavenly doors? Five, six, seven, eight… demons pounding on the gate… nine and then ten… the angels have to fight again… is that right? It sounds right. Sounds so wrong to… Nothing is right anymore.
Glancing up from a minute, her eyes seemingly vacant and cold, she saw the two angels that towered next to Adriel. Slowly, she stood, her motions almost robotic, trained. “Will you two also be joining us for dinner?” Rishta’s noble body then stiffened, back as straight as a ramrod. Michael and Raphael… again. She was so tired of people dying, people arguing, people just not seeing the GOOD in this world. Giving them both a glare that would have paused Death, she muttered, softly, but harshly:
“Stop it you two. You think we don’t have enough problems? It is time to toss your forsaken differences aside and be friends. Even the enemy knows that for success we need unity.” After choking those words out, she walked stiffly towards the doorway to the dining room. Without turning her head, she murmured. “When you have settled your differences come and eat.”
The two Angels of Death and Destruction behind Adriel exchanged a quick glance at this development. Adriel took a light bow to Michael and Raphael, then followed Rishta. The angels promptly did the same.
“We will join you, milady”, one of them said with a smile. “I am Camael and this is Zoriel, my brother. It’s curious… but since we left our human lives, we hadn’t thought we’d share human’s customs like this.”
Zoriel picked up the next line.
“It’ll be a joy. However I’d suggest we don’t take long for dinner; Azrael Archangel and our companions will send us word on the state of the battle; we need to be ready.”
Camael cast a ‘shut up’ look at his brother.
Adriel nodded. “May this dinner bring harmony and calmness of mind to decide what’s to be done next”, she said with a clear, crystal-like voice.
The angels nodded.
“May it be”, they said.
Raphael turned to Michael and glared hard at him, though his eyes stared slightly off-direction. “He thinks I’m a burden!” Raphael accused Michael angrily, “This… this idiot!” Raphael yelled as he shook his fists, “I still can fight! I will not stop even I’m left with only one arm or leg! Get it?! You just stop being so self-opinionated, Michael!” Raphael screamed as he punched his fist to the marble ground.
“I don’t have any use for a blind fighter!” Michael snapped. “I need you around like another archd–” The angel paused for a moment, as a great rush of sadness swept over him. His fists slowly uncurled as he stared at the wall; through the wall, off into the distance. His sorrow was quickly washed away by regret and anger only a heartbeat later. So, it was finally over between those two. Gabriel was dead.
‘I don’t know why I thought he could make it,’ Michael growled to himself. ‘We can fight demons, the Fallen, and even time itself… but nothing can fight change. This is beyond all of us. Everyone is going to die.’
Michael turned back to Raphael. His eyes were still as sharp as his sword, but his voice carried only sympathy now. “Gabriel chose his own fate. And it killed him. If you want to fight, Raphael, you’ll be taking your fate into your own hands, too. You’ll probably die. I just thought you should know that, before you throw yourself into anything.” Michael turned back around, and followed Rishta. “Come, or don’t come. I don’t care anymore. I just want all of this to be over.”
Raphael was angered at what Michael had said. Glaring at him, Raphael bawled, “Gabriel chose to die fighting Beelzebub rather than submit to his evil! He has died a honorable death, fighting against Beelzebub that dirty fly. He feels much for our friends, and I understand his feelings because I’ve lost a loved one to Beelzebub too!” Gazing at Michael with his sudden dark blue eyes, as if trying to burn a hole into his brain, Raphael hissed, “I would rather die trying than not trying at all… I will kill Beelzebub sooner or later to avenge Uriel, Gabriel and Zeruel… Just you watch…”