Angel finished his notes and closed the Black Scroll. He rhythmically tapped on it with his long marble fingers. Aramis was taking too long to return; who’d know to what mischief Aramis was up to now! Angel frowned slightly, for the Holy energies being processed by Aramis were reaching out for him, too. Angel sunk deeper in his own Dark and meditated, tasting his goblet of black liquor.
After some time, a loud sound echoed through the mansion when Aramis stepped into it and slammed the front door shut.
Angel came out of his meditation with a start.
“Pero, ¿qué…?”(1) He was perplexed and curious. Aramis’ emotions were like a storm rolling and thundering inside of him. Angel rose and vanished, reappearing at the foot of the stairs of the 4th floor that led to the dorms in the 5th floor, where they have separate chambers. Aramis was coming up the stairs from the 3rd floor.
“Aramis, I could have developed roots waiting for you. What took you so long? You seem to be…” Angel blinked as Aramis didn’t look at him and continued to the fifth floor, “Upset? What’s the hurry about?”
“Leave me alone!”
Aramis slammed his door shut.
Angel coolly raised an eyebrow.
“Bueno, si te parece”(2).
Aramis threw his coat on a chair and himself on his bed in an attempt to be alone and think – trying to bring some order to the emotional storm within him. The Ritual, Azazel’s issues, the fight with Azrael, the church and to crown it, the hybrid catching him down guard in his most vulnerable emotional spot had stirred all the deep pit of feelings and emotional wounds that haunted him. He had to deal with it all because Angel refused to take part in the matter, plus Aramis took the burden on his shoulders from the beginning.
After some minutes, Angel slid inside Aramis’ bedroom, finding him on the bed, his face sunk in a pillow. Angel bit his lip, then pulled a chair and sat beside the bed, leaning back lazily in the chair. By now, he had read Aramis’ memory and was quite aware of what had happened in the park. “Todo eso son miserias”(3), Angel nonchalantly said.
Aramis cast him an annoyed glance with red, puffy eyes. Angel continued, “How difficult could it have been? Why didn’t you kill the Rishta thing?”
Aramis blinked at his statement.
“I didn’t think about it… Besides, Azrael seems to have an interest on her family”.
“And?” Angel questioned.
“I was not in conditions to fight Azrael, and she would’ve helped the girl”.
“Don’t excuse yourself, brother. You just didn’t feel like fighting her, which is different”.
“Leave me alone”, he grumbled into his pillow.
Angel sighed. “That sword…” Angel smiled to himself, “That sword makes me curious. We could take the soul from it, just for the Hell of it, just to break the Seal would be gratifying enough… and to ensure she won’t try something funny”.
“How do you know that?” Angel tapped his shoulder, condescending. “Don’t be ingénue, Aramis. She’ll stab our back when she gets a chance. Really, you should’ve killed her”.
Aramis bit his lip.
“She won’t say anything. She didn’t see me and she wasn’t able to tell if I was you or not. Plus, what would she say? You could deny it! Who would believe…?”
“I wouldn’t believe it. Unfortunately I live with you, therefore I have no option but to believe”.
Aramis sighed and curled up.
“You hurt me”.
Angel sighed. He reached out and stroke his hair.
“It’s just frustrating, Aramis… but you can understand that! I wish nothing in Heaven or Hell could hurt you. My blood comes out of your wounds. If you suffer, it does me no good”.
Aramis closed his eyes.
“Don’t go after Rishta’s sword…”
“You know I won’t promise you that! I’ll wait and see – for the moment – , but that’s all you’ll get from me”.
Aramis waved his hand.
“Go away… I’ll take a nap”.
“Uh… okay”. He rose, then tapped his chin. “The man in the park. I know him”.
But Aramis was already asleep. Angel furrowed his brow but couldn’t help a smirk. He left the room to get engaged into his own businesses.
While Aramis slept, Angel continued meditating and making plans for the immediate future. He sensed Azazel’s fury – he was fighting someone. Angel shrugged. He wouldn’t show up unless it would report some benefit for Belial, plus Azazel had not summoned him. Maybe Lucifer’s son considered he was fine on his own.
May you increase your Knowledge today, he thought in sarcasm as if his words were directed to Azazel.
Plopped down in a couch and tasting a jar of sangría, Angel indolently followed the battle events by reading the energies of the fighters. He had been writing on the Black Scroll, but he was done for the moment and it was noon already. Angel was considering eating out, maybe at the White Club London House restaurant again. The dessert cart alone would sure lift Aramis’s spirits – the thought won an unwilling smile from him.
Noon. Angel slid his fingers through his raven-black hair and his brow twitched in disgust at the turn of events he perceived.
“Such an idiot… fighting in a cathedral at noon. The Angelus began already and he’s outnumbered while his energy drops. Sure he can go back to Hell – he’s ruining my masterpiece by getting killed!”
Angel tapped his chin. Thoughtfully, he pondered on what to do. He wouldn’t risk his neck for Azazel, but the Abbey was too close to his house as to pretend he didn’t notice what was going on. He’d have to go or else he’d be questioned. Damn Lucifer for having this kid! Angel went back to Aramis’ room. If he was to fight in the Abbey again with the Holy energies going up to a peak he’d need to put Aramis to work, for Aramis’ nature could give them advantages in moments like this.
Angel gently patted Aramis’ shoulder.
“Sorry, brother. But I need you right away”.
Aramis blinked owlishly, still half-asleep.
“Ah… déjame dormir un poco más…(4)” He tried to turn over but Angel held grip of his shoulder.
Aramis rubbed his eyes like a sleepy kid. When Angel’s thoughts flowed through his mind and he realized what Angel wanted him to do, Aramis gasped and opened his eyes wide. He jerked back.
“No! I don’t want to go!”
Angel had a grim smile.
“Neither do I. But we will – right now“.
Michael dropped from the sky, landing on the roof of Westminster in a less than graceful manner. He dropped back onto his bottom, resting both arms on his knees gasping for deep breaths of air. They made it in one piece and he was willing to bet Azazel wasn’t too far behind. He breathed deep, recollecting his thoughts and his strength, knowing the fight to come wasn’t going to be easy. Wasn’t I trying to avoid this in the first place…? He’s too heavy in power for the two of us alone… Michael thought deeply. The others have been battling hard nonstop for days now, they were no doubt in need of some rest… It was his turn to fight the battle, at least this once…
Adriel nearly crashed onto one of the arrows of the roof when slowing down; she used the spear as a pole to help the crash and sent herself onto the roof where Michael was, breaking a couple tiles in her arrival. She peered into the skies.
“He’s coming fast!” Adriel took a deep breath and floated a couple feet in the air, flapping her wings to hover and be ready to dart to either side. The sun was high in the skies, shining over the tall towers of Westminster, but a shadow crept in the skies.
Blinded by the Light, Azazel howled in fury. His hatred towards the angelic host had been stirred; Azazel spread an energy shield before him, but he sensed the angels going away. With a roar, Azazel flapped his six golden wings and launched into the space, guiding himself by their presences. A dark unholy shadow wrapped about him like cloak, lightning cracking with Azazel’s rage. His eyes recovered sight and he saw a river shining beneath him and the silhouette of two mighty towers guarding a large building as he flew at astonishing speed: they had flown to a holy ground! The Holy energies hit him like a wall, but he broke through it, feeling the energies tingle over his body. Azazel hovered between the two towers and let out an arrogant, mocking laugh. The shadow parted open and the sun shone strangely on his golden feathers, tossing red, writhing shadows on the stone walls.
“You cannot hide from me. I am Azazel, Leader of the Armies! Foolish angels; you shall meet your doom today!” Azazel clasped his hands. In his clawed hand his flaming sword appeared and set itself on unholy fire; in his other hand, his whip of infernal metal cracked, forming loops like a live snake. Azazel darted at them, flying in zigzag in the wide space with a horrible grin.
Michael stood quickly his sword appearing in hand. He matched Azazel’s wicked smile with one of his very own. His sword igniting in a similar fire, only pure light.
//Circle around him! Stay at his back at all times!//
Throwing his sword above his head, he swung it down hard sending a wave of bright golden light barreling into Azazel. Every slash he made sent many more blasts, keeping the haggard form of the devil’s son at bay.
The faint crunch of falling rocks distracting Michael for a slight second, as he cast his gaze to the side. He caught a small flicker of movement, but all he could see was solid stone statues and the intricate towers of the cathedral. Returning his attentions back to Azazel, he stepped back holding his sword pointedly.
“Getting tired Azazel?! Is that decaying old body of a dead man not quite holding up for you?”
Gabriel awoke from his daze on the ground beside the shattered ruin of the Inn wall. Everyone had gone; he had been standing in the middle of the road, daydreaming, whilst gawkers gathered and stared at the Inn and the workers now swarming over it. Luckily the Innkeeper didn’t connect him to the scene of the crime; Gabe’d been killed by now with a swift blow of a frying pan.
He followed the traces of angelic magic to the Lady’s manor, then slowly, carefully, as the trail was quite new, to the grounds below Westminster. He was in his angelic form and quite invisible to human eyes; he had done his best to shield himself from the distracted… Azazel as well. He’s here? Blood and fire… We’re going to die.
While Azazel was busy with Michael, Gabriel released the Lily Sigil from his body, and placed three arrows to the string. With a whispered prayer to the powers that be, he let them fly, straight up from the ground to Azazel’s prone arse. The arrows blazed up in white holy fire, streaking to their targets faster than the North Wind. While those were in the air, Gabriel fired off more, one at a time now and aimed carefully. //I am here!// He shouted mentally, for both Azazel and the other angels to hear. He released his six golden wings, creating a halo of sunlight around his body, a holy aura to protect him from harm. He prayed that it would be enough to give Michael an opening to wound, if not destroy, the son of the Beast.
Azazel sensed Gabriel’s presence and the white holy fire coming straight to him. An image formed in his mind upon feeling the arrows’ trajectory as well as Michael’s shots; Azazel closed five on his wings to alter his own, slowing down to a near stop and to an abrupt turn, then darted about with the mighty impulse of three wings he had previously closed, dodging two arrows; the third he hit with a swift crack of his whip; he slid from one side to another, gracefully avoiding the beams of Light that almost formed a net around him. Azazel almost brushed against the tiles, flying so close to the roof; he opened the remaining pair of wings to add speed and circled one of the arrows of the massive buttresses of the cathedral’s roof. Azazel stood momentaneously on top of the stone arrow on one foot – on his goat hoof, more precisely.
“The Messenger Boy, too? I thought you were supposed to arrive always the first!” Azazel was pleased at his agility, specially since this was his first battle after leaving the Abyss; he marked the positions of the angels with a swift look. Azazel suddenly jumped back and dropped on free fall, disappearing behind the tower. A beam of black power came from behind the tower, aiming to Adriel; meanwhile Azazel darted from behind the tower straight to Gabriel, but in midway he shot a blast of black fire with his flaming sword and darted off straight to Michael.
“See if the body works or not! I might be more alive than any of you!” Chanting words of Death, Azazel wielded Lufernatia and a sigil projected from the sword, fire surrounding Michael in the same style of the attack Michael had performed.
“I can learn quickly”, Azazel said with an evil smile, a dark aura surrounding him.
Adriel had some relief upon Gabriel’s arrival, but Azazel still was a terrible enemy for them to face. Adriel launched herself to the side and flew backwards, dodging the blast attack but sending a beam of Light from his spear, to counteract some the damage the evil energies might cause. The dark energies split and hit a row of statues; rocks crumbled on the roof and a sudden movement beneath them was perceived.
Adriel turned to go in Michael’s aid; an inhuman shadow showed against the tiles under the noon sun. Adriel cried, “Watch out!!!” A strange beast hovered and attacked – it had flown from one of the rows of statues, and it was a stone gargoyle. From the debris of the row near Adriel, another gargoyle rose with a growl. Quick shadows seemed to lurk everywhere as the guards of the cathedral awoke.
Michael followed Azazel with his eyes, every move he made, but it was well apparent even after the long sleep in the abyss, the fallen one was more quick and agile than any of them could have anticipated. He darted between shots, squeezed through blasts, and Michael could barely keep his gazed trained on him as he bolted between the towers.
This is definitely not where I want to be today… His hesitant thoughts distracting him, Michael cringed as dark waves of fire encircled him. His skin as if it were being scraped from his very body. Dropping to his knees and clutching the hilt of his sword to his chest, he kept his same arrogant smile, not daring to give Azazel the satisfaction of seeing his pain.
Before Michael could give a reply to Azazel taunts, Adriel’s warning called out, He quickly shot his gaze up to the sky, as flying beasts with scales of pure stone dove from the skies at himself and Azazel. Michael ducked and rolled to the side, just barely being crushed by the massive gargoyle that pounded into the gray rock of the roof.
Ewww…! Azazel thought upon the sight of the gargoyle smashing on the roof. What in Hell is that?! Well… at least it can be a sort of advantage for a moment… Never stopping in his flight, Azazel darted in zigzag eluding the new obstacle and reached Michael as the archangel flew out of the way of the gargoyle; Lufernatia blazed with infernal fire and Azazel thrust it through Michael’s body from his side to his stomach; the blade burn the wound in a diagonal cut, for Azazel never stopped in his trajectory; he pulled Lufernatia out and cracked his whip of wire, hitting and wrapping it round the arm that held Michael’s sword. Azazel pulled with a wicked laughter, dragging Michael with him with the whip wrapped around Michael’s wrist.
“… Oops!” Azazel darted to the side as another gargoyle attacked; Michael’s weight diminished his agility and Azazel used him as a counterweight to maneuver and avoid the gargoyle, but the first one was flying straight to them.
“Bye, Michael!” Azazel cackled and dropped him, pulling the whip free. He squeezed his way through the gargoyles, which clashed against each other. Azazel looked around. The space above the roof was full of the damn creatures. Azazel suddenly felt a force weigh on him. The Holy energies were starting to take their toll; Azazel scowled but he was not giving up just yet!
Adriel gasped in horror when she saw Azazel dart among the gargoyles dragging wounded Michael bound by his wrist with the infernal whip; Michael had a terrible wound and blood was dripping everywhere in their wake! Azazel however had to drop his prey in order to elude the gargoyles. Gabriel attacked, shooting an arrow charged in Holy energies; Adriel took a deep breath: the explosion of Holy energy from Gabriel’s shot tingled her with brisk hope. She maneuvered with her spear, trying to avoid the gargoyles and reach Michael.
Gabriel scowled. Bastard, it would be just like him to dodge every damn one of his arrows. Well, he wasn’t gonna dodge this so easily!
Gabriel knocked an arrow and aimed, concentrating as much holy energy as he could in its head. He fired, its speed and enchantments taking it in an upward arch to Azazel. As it reached the peak, he tore one of the binding spells, and the arrow shattered, creating an explosion of holy energy.
Damn you… Go away!
Momentaneously blinded by the Light again, Azazel roared in anger, relying on his demonic senses to read the world around him… but the Holy energies were like a white mist slowly going thicker, making his senses less effective by the minute. Azazel felt the energies from the explosion burn over him; he flew backwards in an attempt to gain time. His sight was all blurry but recovering; Azazel shut his eyes and flew using his other senses, agile as a bat in the night, swift as lightning.
“One is down; I can take the other two of you down as easy as I’ve slain Michael!”, he triumphantly cried out despite the Holy energies weighing on him. “Your pathetic leader can help you no more!”
Azazel had to stop yelling taunts to concentrate, for the gargoyles flew in larger numbers now. He wielded Lufernatia, his scaled hand shining red in the gold hilt; Azazel chanted words of Hatred and Death and the infernal blade set on fire; he aimed bolts of fire to the gargoyles he detected and the very stones burn to black ashes. The gargoyles were chasing all the intruders and Azazel’s senses were going numb by the minute. He still perceived the angels’ movements and Michael – damn him – was barely but still alive.
…Drats. Azazel tried to make his way around the battlefield to finish off the leader of the Heavenly Armies.
“Michael!”, she cried out as a gargoyle flew about him, but the stone guardian didn’t show interest in the limp body. Landing on the roof beside Michael to protect him, Adriel however had to defend herself. The Blade of Life cut clean through the stone scales, but when the gargoyle fell she saw Azazel trying to make his way to them. He was coming back to finish off Michael!
“Back off, Hellspawn!” Adriel shot a bolt towards Azazel. She noticed he had his eyes shut but was still agile and swift. She shot again and a third time…
The cathedral bells rang solemnly in a song. It was noon, and inside the building the chorus sang the Angelus; their voices faintly reached them but the prayer’s might increased the Holy energies.
“The Angel of the Lord brought glad tidings unto Mary,
And she conceived by the Holy Ghost…”
The song prayer went on, the Holy energies flowing mightier than before.
Azazel let out a mocking laughter. “Seeking your own death, Angel of Death?” He used Lufernatia to block one bolt as he eluded the other two; suddenly the might of the Holy energies became unbearable and with a start, Azazel lost track of the world around him. He crashed onto one of the gargoyles with a scream.
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord;
Be it unto me according to thy word.”
The prayer words was all he heard. Azazel flourished Lufernatia, slaying the gargoyle he had crashed onto which had tried to seize him. He staggered back on the tiles and opened his eyes wide. He could see now; his sight was back, but he found himself in what seemed to be a bonfire without flames. The Holy energies flooded everything, flowing to Heaven and back. Azazel made a supreme effort and lit up his dark aura once more; his senses returned, but numbed. The stone fist of a gargoyle knocked him to the side; Azazel smashed against a low wall, tripped and fell on the line of statues in one of the buttresses below. He let out a blood-curdling anger scream.
“Michael! I’ll kill you today” He flew up and circled Adriel and Michael from above, throwing bolts of dark energy at them. In his rage, he seemed to have forgotten the Messenger.
Adriel was terrified, but she was also determined to fulfill her mission. She spun her spear and effectively blocked some of Azazel’s bolts, but not all; his power had considerably decreased, but it still was of Infernal proportions. Adriel was wounded and bleeding. Her white robes were stained in blood, but her hands were firm on the spear. She covered Michael as a rain of dark bolts fell on them, wielding the Blade of Life with expertise but her own strength was inexorably diminishing.
Gabriel was momentarily stunned, struck in the temple by a chunk of falling gargoyle. What a way to go…
When he shook it off, he was aware of the strengthening of the holy aura he had released; there were hymns and prayers being sung in the cathedral. Azazel seemed to be distracted, blind with fury and firing off bolts at Adriel and Michael.
Thanks for the distraction… Gabriel was determined to finish the fight off once and for all. He took one last arrow, and dispelling his bow, charged it up with as much holiness as he could handle. Whispering a silent prayer himself, he shot upwards, over them all, and dropped down, golden wings back and arrow held out before him like a sword… The holy light grew and concentrated, forming an ethereal blade. He slammed the light down with all his might.
“LEAVE US IN PEACE!!!!“
Raziel landed gently, shielded from angel, demon, and human senses alike. He opened his Book and held his Pen, writing the words that even immortality depended on.
He used the senses of the Air and the majickal Elementals in the place; used the memory of the stone, the eyes of birds. With those, he pieced together a record of the battle as before he observed, and continued onward.
Azazel was stunned. He suddenly sensed a Holy energy – mighty, invasive – reach for him. Blood splattered, falling on his arms and robes, bright scarlet staining his golden wings as if to match the blood-like spots on them. Blood drops fell on the cathedral roof tiles and boiled violently, evaporating immediately. It took Azazel a fraction of second to realize the blood was his own. He never sensed Gabriel coming to attack him till it was too late.
Azazel howled in fury. He had been wounded! The Leader of the Armies from the Abyss was bleeding! That was outrageous! He flapped his wings and more blood splattered, but in his rage, Azazel did not give a damn about it. He clutched his side and it felt it wet, blood dripping through a crack in his armor. Azazel cracked the whip which wrapped around him like a live snake, its power momentaneously containing the bleeding. Azazel flourished Lufernatia and flew backwards to gain some time to recover. He slain and kicked aside a gargoyle that reached out its claws to grab him.
Azazel’s breathing was turning difficult. The Holy energies were reaching a peak… He slashed with his sword, sending a beam of dark energy to the Messenger, but his feverish bronze eyes turned again to Michael, down on the roof and still covered by Adriel.
“I shall kill thee…” Azazel let out a blood-curdling howl. A dark power surge lit his dark aura to an infernal extent once again and he threw two bolts in a curve trajectory to Gabriel and two more to Michael and Adriel. Done this, his dark aura receded and dimmed again, and his wings faltered.
Angel and Aramis arrived in silence, ground-level and managed to go unnoticed. The two invisible to human eyes – Angel in demonic form and Aramis in angelic form – climbed the front facade to the roof, sneaked their way to the main roof over the center aisle where the battle was taking place. Going up using one of the massive stone buttresses and standing among the statues of angels and saints, they watched the turn of events.
“The Holy energies will weigh down on me soon”, Angel had said before, “but you can cover us, for you can endure them. We ought not to stay for long… just enough to get Azazel out of there”.
Aramis was not too happy at the idea, for he did not want to fight using angelic powers with all this audience. He’d have to pull dark energies out of Angel to fight with demonic powers, and that would wear Angel out more quickly. As a last instance… he’d have to use his own. Aramis swallowed.
“Let us hope we’ll survive this one”.
“Don’t bring dark omens upon us! Can’t you ever be optimistic?!”
“… Then shut up. Besides, everyone is half-dead by now”.
Gabriel growled and dodged the arc of the bolt Azazel had shot at him. His chest was heaving; his sight was dimmed with red fury… He had to calm himself; and by that time, not only were Michael and Azazel grounded, but Azrael and Belial had arrived. Both of him.
Gabriel had wounded Azazel! Azazel was bleeding! The son of Lucifer lit up his unholy aura and shot again, but hope refused to die within the angel. Adriel maneuvered with her Spear to block Azazel’s bolts, but their intensity was too great for her conditions. The first bolt struck the Blade of Life and split in two; one part hit Adriel’s body and the other part killed a gargoyle. Adriel gasped for air and lost balance on the tiles, which were slippery with blood; she fell on her knees but still held the Spear up, for the second blast was coming. Michael hadn’t moved since he fell on the roof.
Certain as Death, Azrael arrived. She saw Raziel was already there and back to work, which was good news; as usual, she didn’t interfere with his work. Azrael saw Gabriel’s attack and Azazel’s retreat; when the son of Lucifer increased his aura and attacked again, she dived down towards Adriel and Michael, for Gabriel was doing fine on his own. Azrael landed next to Adriel when she fell on her knees; the dark energies shook Azrael’s robes and hair. The archangel of Death and Destruction rose Filos in the shape of a sword and flourished it. The blade voice matched the holy energies vibe and amplified its might, creating a shield over the group, which deflected the second blast Azazel had delivered Adriel and Michael with a sound like a bronze bell.
Michael’s chest heaved as he awoke coughing heavily, spitting wads of blood onto the already soaked ground. At his side was a dull ache, his body choosing to go numb from the severe loss of blood. His mouth crept into a somewhat odd smile as he thought of the ‘french cookie’ and how furious she was going to be at him for getting in to such a mess. Looking up he saw Adriel who had fallen to her knee’s just as bloodied as he… and Azrael blocking a shot from Azazel. When did Azazel get there…? He wasn’t sure, but he gave him the cover that he needed.
With a great amount of energy, Michael shoved himself off the ground, clutching his sword tightly to his chest. Azrael blocked oncoming attacks from gargoyles, as Azazel writhed with pain.. from what? The faint sound of a song wafted through his ears. Don’t like the music, Azazel? Good time for you to leave…
With a sudden burst of hidden energy, Michael leapt into the air over Adriel’s and Azrael heads, his wings unfolding from his back. He shot past the gargoyles, dodging claw and teeth and raised his sword in hand. Not slowing his pace, he drew his arm back and thrust his sword deep into Azazel’s chest. Before the two tumbled to the ground in bloody mess, Michael pulled his sword from his chest and mumbled two short words…
Azazel tried to scream upon the terrible pain the holy blade caused to him, but blood filled his throat, choking him. His blazing bronze eyes were wide open in a mix of outraged protest, shock and hatred. He coughed out blood and with his remaining strength he tried to strangle Michael, the angel he hated the most; but his body was too worn out and weak. He coughed, still trying to tighten his grip on his enemy’s throat. Golden feathers tainted in blood stuck to the horrible wounds. “I…. hate…. y..you…!”
On her knees, Adriel was astonished to see what Michael had managed to do. When Azazel fell, the will that had kept her fighting loosened: the Demon Leader was down. He had been defeated… Adriel silently fell on the blood-soaked tiles of the roof; her wings laid limp about her and the hand that held the Blade of Life loosened its grip, but still didn’t let go of the weapon.
Aramis and Angel gawked in astonishment from their hideout in the rows of statues. Michael stabbed Azazel!
“Lo mató”(5), Angel sentenced with a sort of fatalism to his voice.
“No… todavía no está muerto!”(6), Aramis exclaimed.
Angel frowned darkly. “Well, that’s our call.” The twins jumped out of the row of statues and onto the back of a huge gargoyle that passed by them; Angel carved Belial’s Seal on it’s back with his claws, chanting words of infernal. The gargoyle darted about howling with the twins on it’s back and holding on for dear life. The gargoyle ran straight to the leaders of the armies. In that instant, Raphael appeared.
Raphael had watch Azrael fly in a different direction than he anticipated and it puzzled him. But knowing that she could be right and him wrong, with his senses dulled, he simply followed behind her without a sound. Raphael was late to the scene. He didn’t really give a damn about Michael knowing he could take care of himself. He briefly wondered if he was just been selfish in his thoughts. He had promised to bring Michael back safely to Rishta, and he would do so. However, all Raphael could feel was disgust and anger when he saw Adriel’s injuries. Azazel still has his back to him.
Flying upwards in his fastest speed, he summoned Strife. A glow of energy gathered around the tip of the blade as Raphael thrust the power of the light towards Azazel, causing a small but powerful blast of energy flying towards the son of the devil. It would just barely miss Michael and hit the pesky Fallen.
“Aramis, keep them away!” The gargoyle growled and roared, breaking tiles in its wake and stopping near the limp bodies. Aramis swallowed and jumped off the gargoyles back and before the two fallen fighters; Aramis spun the Scythe of Simara, deflecting Raphael’s blast. He set his left heel firmly and moved the Scythe so if Raphael didn’t change his trajectory he’d get impaled in the Scythe.
Angel kneeled down beside Azazel. He chanted a spell and projected a sigil that slid before Aramis. Angel pulled Azazel’s hands off Michael’s throat.
“Let go of him! There’ll be other time!” Angel pushed Michael’s sword away and pulled Azazel.
Raphael flew aside quickly, so that he wouldn’t be impaled by Aramis’s weapon. His face darkened. “Trying to act heroic, Belial? Go ahead. This might very well be your last chance.” Raphael said as he set Strife in front of him. Strife began to spin slowly and the speed increased rapidly as it finished each circle. As Strife swiftly pun thirty rounds, it seemed like the blades of a fan. It went horizontal and sped towards Angel’s chest, the force at the tip of the blade increased as it sped towards Angel.
“Azazel Dragon, let go of Michael!”
Angel was getting impatient, but Azazel wasn’t helping.
“No….!! I’ll kill him…” Azazel still tried to close his weakening fingers round his enemy’s throat. Angel pulled his fingers off Michael’s throat and it seemed to him Michael was trying to smile, even if he was nearly unconscious.
“Smile all you want, fool; you’ve never been an opportune person!” Angel cried out an order and the gargoyle knelt down beside them.
Aramis turned as Raphael changed his course of flight; the sigil sent by Angel shone in the air before him and Aramis touched it with the blade. The sigil lit up as Raphael’s weapon spun in the air. When it darted towards them, Aramis cried out words of Destruction. A beam of Dark magic intercepted Strife, deflecting it from its course.
Angel snorted and grabbed Michael’s arm.
“Don’t forget he’s with me, too Raphael!”
Aramis stood before them in guard position.
“Apresúrate!”(7), he hissed to Angel. Strife was still spinning and Aramis maneuvered to keep it away.
Raphael gave a scowl at Angel. With a mental command, Strife charged towards Aramis fast as Raphael flew towards Azazel and Michael, his hands glowing with a bright golden-yellow light of power. He intended to punch through Azazel’s chest, or at least melt off a portion of him.
“Away, evil beings!” Raphael cried out as he neared Angel and Azazel. Strife was coming in close!
Aramis wielded the Scythe to dodge Strife, but the dagger was as stubborn as its owner. Raphael was attacking Angel; Aramis gritted his teeth and in a fraction of second, he murmured one word and reverted a section of the sigil; the energy out of it blasted Strife away. He had used his angelic powers… but he quickly reverted the sigil to a tainted Dark version to try and mask his deed.
Angel blinked as Raphael came flying at great speed. Raphael was still the same.
“Hit him!”, he ordered the gargoyle knelt beside them. The huge brute punched the archangel, knocking him out of his course. Angel growled and pulled Michael and Azazel up, carrying them with him. Azazel still held his grip on Michael’s throat, but he was slowly passing out. “Why we can’t get rid of you?”, he asked Michael.
“Don’t try something creative now!”, he warned the Angelic Host.
Raphael was punched backwards hit hard by the gargoyle and he muffled his cry of pain, unwilling to let his enemies to gloat. He glared at Belial and the gargoyle with a fierce look. His wings twitched as he tried being on the offensive again, flying towards the gargoyle first. Raphael had to get rid of the obstacle before he could touch Azazel or Belial. Seemingly defenseless, the gargoyle screeched at Raphael as if taunting him. It extended its sharp claws and charged towards Raphael fast, wanting to tear the angel to pieces. The claws caught Raphael’s chest and scratched a long painful gash across it. Raphael winced not managing to dodge on time as his senses were still too dull! Angered, Raphael gave a howl and he delivered a hard punch to the gargoyle’s cheek with a glow of angelic power. The gargoyle screamed in pain as its head was severed from its neck. Strife bobbed up and down, as if waiting for a command. “Attack!!!” Raphael yelled, and Strife immediately moved, attacking Aramis with another blast. Raphael flew towards Azazel again, but not before delivering a punch of blast towards Angel.
Azrael changed Filos into its Spear form and held a guard position, ready to attack as soon as the twins made a mistake. She stood before fallen Adriel and from her position she did not miss the strange change Aramis had made.
Angel, who was carrying both Azazel and Michael half because Azazel wouldn’t let go of Michael’s neck and half because Michael was a great health insurance, growled in displeasure when Raphael beheaded their beast. Raphael shot at him. Angel snorted.
“There’s only one way for you, isn’t it?”, he asked, turning so that it was Michael who took the blow. Angel had to stand firmly so they wouldn’t fall, but the blast sent the three a few inches back, tiles breaking under Angel’s heels.
Michael only gasped, but a wet feeling informed Angel, Michael was coughing blood. Angel eyed Gabriel in the skies.
//Aramis, time to go.//
Angel murmured a spell. The stones scattered formed the head of the gargoyle back in place. Belial’s Seal shone on the back of the beast where Angel had traced it. Aramis was still dealing with Strife, plus he noticed with a start Azrael wasn’t attacking or moving, even though she was ready for either thing. She was watching him now; he wouldn’t be able to repeat the energies change. Aramis used the Scythe blade to fight Strife off in a more conventional way.
Aramis chanted a spell and the sigil flew off to Strife, wrapping like a net of spells around it. Aramis leapt back and was again side by side with his brother to block Raphael.
It took Gabriel a moment to realize the red in his eyes was blood- his own, and Azazel’s. The blow to his temple was bleeding sluggishly. He flicked the blood from his eyes with a snarl, and released the Lily Sigil. He aimed it carefully, pulling Angel into his sights… He pulled the arrow back, and fired, and a second followed the first almost immediately, this one aimed at Aramis. The two flew swiftly, like silver stars falling to earth.
He dropped down to get in closer, but not close enough to be in weapons’ range. He had to separate Belial, Michael, and Azazel, somehow… He deliberated a final shot to Azazel, to finish him off, but Michael was in the way, damn him.
“Cos you are too cowardly to take my blow and let someone else take it instead!” Raphael taunted at Angel, “Can’t you learn to take things which is for you, and leave those which are not for you instead!” Strife tore at the net madly to no avail. It was trapped. Before long, Strife calmed down and spun about, faster and faster until a sigil appeared and a bright golden-yellow light exploded from it, cutting off the ‘net’ like sharp scissors.
Ignoring Raphael’s words and still eyeing Gabriel, Angel frowned when the Messenger shot. Holding in his arms both Azazel and Michael, any of the two would take the arrow shot if Angel didn’t move. If Azazel died – too bad, but maybe not too bad – all this would be for nothing, but there could still be some advantage. If Michael died… the health insurance would be gone. Not like it was working much. Michael was perhaps a more of a sucky leader than he had imagined, for no one really cared about him. Only poor Adriel had risked her life to save him, and seemed like she was not going to last. Azrael? She didn’t care about anyone – for real. The arrow drew closer as Angel thought all this in a fraction of a second. Almost lazily, he waited to see which one would die.
Aramis couldn’t believe Angel’s thoughts and he opened his eyes wide. Through Angel’s eyes he had seen the arrow coming to him, but Strife was coming too and he had expected Angel would do something about the arrows. However Angel was too busy doing nothing and being plain evil, to move. Aramis reached out and grabbed the handle of Azazel’s whip, which was still wrapped around his torso. The whip twitched at his contact and the handle burned in his hand, but Aramis pulled it as it twitched, freeing the whip. Aramis clutched his hand on the handle, ignoring the burning pain and cracked the whip, taking down one of the arrows, which exploded with Holy Light, but the other passed through and Aramis couldn’t dodge it; it was going to hit either way. He lifted his wings keeping them closed so the thick layers of feathers would cover his back to some extent and turned to face Raphael, once again threatening to impale him with the Scythe. He let go of the whip, but the infernal weapon cringed to his wrist; when he wielded the Scythe a drop of blood fell at his feet from his hand. Angel leapt backwards and onto the huge gargoyle’s back when Aramis pulled the whip, but still the explosion of Holy energies sent a sharp pain through his demonic senses. At the same time, the arrow hit Aramis; yet the thick layers of feathers diminished the blow it still pierced the armor and got stuck there. Aramis narrowed his eyes but endured the wound. The Holy energies flowed through him and shook the cloak of Dark Angel kept on Aramis’ nature; startled Aramis held on the best he could. Strife fiercely attacked him; Aramis spun the Scythe at astonishing speed to keep the holy dagger at bay, but Strife wouldn’t give up.
//Get going!//, Aramis sent a mental message to Angel. //You won’t resist much more before being affected…//
Angel scowled. The Seal of Belial shone on the gargoyle’s back and it set off running at blinding speed. Aramis flew backwards behind them to cover them – yet his lower pair of wings was slowly going numb, the other four wings were still unaffected. Angel started casting a spell, chanting in a dark voice.
Azrael unfurled her six mighty wings and took off after Belial, quickly covering the distance between them. Azrael held her spear ready to attack Aramis, but she didn’t risk throwing it at him because he was too close to the running gargoyle that carried Michael, Azazel and Angel. She recognized the spell Angel was starting, and her brow furrowed slightly.
When the arrow hit Aramis, she noticed a similar disturbance as before, when Aramis switched energies; Azrael kept this things to herself and drew closer to Aramis, zigzagging to find a spot between Strife and the spinning Scythe to hit.
Raphael’s dulled senses could not warn him of the oncoming attack quick enough. By the time Raphael managed to fly aside, his left shoulder was pierced deep by the scythe. Raphael gritted his teeth. Annoying Belial and damned Scythe! Ignoring his own pain, Raphael put his hands in front of him, letting his palms face Angel as they sat beside each another. A golden-yellow glow embodied around the hands and a holy sigil appears in Raphael’s palms. Still panting, Raphael released a blast towards Angel.
Aramis gasped when Azrael caught up with him. The damned whip was tightly wrapped around his wrist as if it wanted to cut his blood flow; the burn in his hand was painful, but he ignored it. He continued maneuvering the Scythe, but he just wanted to avoid Azrael.
Raphael was about to attack Angel; a sigil projected between his palms. Angel continued his chant, imperturbable. Holding onto Michael and Azazel with his dragon wings, Angel freed his hands and summoned the Staff, pointing it to Raphael; a dark shield formed – but behind Angel and still far ahead of the gargoyle, at the edge of the roof, a dark portal began to open. A dark spot appeared, spinning; it began to grow and a hole appeared, always growing.
“Hellgate!”, Azrael cried out in warning to Raphael. She zigzagged away from Aramis, switching her target to reach Angel.
Aramis suddenly stopped spinning the Scythe and swayed it when Azrael sped up leaving him, catching Strife by surprise and sending it away – for a moment, at least. He shot a blast to increase his speed and launched himself back with the might of the blast, in which he used part of his own angelic powers to make it stronger. He zoomed past Raphael and through the dark shield, clashing against the gargoyle’s shoulder. He had to hold on for dear life not to be thrown away. He looked ahead: the dark portal was just about the size now. Blood ran down Aramis’s side and leg, and the whip was making his hand go bluish. With some effort, he pulled out the holy arrow and tossed it away.
Strife was speeding up to catch with them. Aramis’s gaze met Angel’s for a brief instant. There was a sort of plea in his eyes. Angel frowned darkly and concentrated on the spell and now the shield, holding Raphael’s blast off for as long as possible. After a couple seconds of hostile reluctance, he briefly nodded. Raphael’s blast was pushing through but the shield still endured.
Aramis rose unsteadily on the gargoyle’s back, carrying Michael in his arms. Azazel had passed out, finally releasing the archangel’s throat. Aramis managed to keep balance on the beast’s back. Raphael wouldn’t catch Michael, if Aramis remembered well.
Aramis tossed the archangel towards Azrael.
//She won’t catch him either//, Angel remarked. Aramis did not reply. Hell winds blew on them and the gate was now closer; the gargoyle ran towards the portal to the Abyss.
“Catch him!!!” Raphael screamed at Azrael, unwilling to let go now that Angel’s shield was beginning to show signs that it is giving way. However, Rishta’s plea and request rang at Raphael’s mind suddenly.
“What the hell…” Raphael said as he sent a final blast at Angel before flying full speed towards a falling bloodied Michael. Raphael caught Michael in mid-air and looking at the fellow angel with near disgust on his face, Raphael reprimanded, as if Michael could hear him, “Look at the consequences of not wanting being the leader!”
Azrael raised an eyebrow at Raphael’s fickleness. If she would’ve moved a bit closer, he would have crashed on her when catching Michael.
“Indecisive fool”, she said emotionlessly. Azrael sped up to the Hellgate, leaving them behind. However, she had to stop before being sucked in by the hell winds. Azrael hovered as close as possible, but they were already out of reach.
The spell was complete. Aramis’s gaze was fixed on Azrael. The fiery hell winds swept and dried away the tears on his cheeks. He was in physical pain, but his heartache eclipsed the pain of his flesh. Amazingly, Angel remained silent. The beast leapt through the Hellgate and into the Abyss with Belial and Azazel, and the Hellgate closed behind them.
Michael coughed once again, hearing Raphael’s and Azrael’s banter in his head. The comments ran deep, cutting him more than any blade of Azazel could.
Look at the consequences of not wanting to be the leader… He would have winced if he had the energy to do so. All he wanted to do was spare the lives of innocent people. Isn’t that what he accomplished? You haven’t accomplished anything… Azazel will be healed, the woman will still be in danger, you and Adriel… heh… wasted time… wasted energy…
“Let go of me…” He shoved at Raphael, who more than eagerly complied, dropping Michael to the ground. Promptly falling to his knees under the stress of his own weight, he grasped his side with one hand and held him self steady with the other. is hair fell loosely into his face, shielding his eyes from sight, which was more than okay for him. A faint smile across his lips concealed the deep regret that was griping at him.
Raising a hand up, he pointed to Adriel. “Go get her… We need to get back to Rishta before she comes looking for us…” And then we’re going to decide if fighting is worth living for…
Azrael floated motionless for an instant after the Hellgate closed. The skies were again gray and damp above London. The demons were gone.
Azrael bit her lip slightly. Azazel’s weapon had made Aramis bleed. The disturbance she sensed was quite remarkable, but she still didn’t propose any solution to the enigma. Three times: first when Aramis blasted Strife; second when he got hit by Gabriel’s arrow; third when he shot a blast to launch himself and catch up with Angel… Azrael swept a look around. Still gargoyles lurked; they wouldn’t give up until all the intruders left the cathedral, let them be angels or not. However, not that the fight was over, the gargoyles did not attack them.
Floating still, Azrael made Filos disappear and summoned the Book, which she opened. She watched Michael with a blink. He seemed to be upset now… even though Azrael guessed he should be grateful. In fact, Azrael had book marked his name earlier. She read with her power as the Bookbearer and made some notes. Azrael however had book marked two of her brethren. When Michael asked them to get Adriel, Azrael touched the remaining mark, but didn’t open it yet. She let the Book float beside her and went to Adriel.
Raphael cocked his head aside. He wasn’t pleased at Michael’s ‘ungratefulness’. “I wouldn’t have saved you if Rishta didn’t request me to.” Raphael said in disgust to Michael.
// What a jerk! Should have left him to be eaten up by the gargoyles!!! // “I got a stab from Belial, a punch from the gargoyle and missed a chance killing Belial all because of you and now how dare you yell at me!” Raphael nearly screamed in frustration, “And you shoved me by my injured shoulder, damn you!”
“I’m sure I didn’t disappoint you. After all, you already knew I was a failure.” After all, you don’t give a damn about any of us… This fight and these people’s lives mean nothing to you…
Michael bit back his retort, letting his better judgment win over his bitter thoughts. Raphael wanted a scapegoat. He could be the scapegoat. Wasn’t it his responsibility? Take the blame? Save the lives? Protect the people? Shoulder the world? Isn’t this what a savior does? Sharp pain caused Michael to double over, resting his head on the cold stone of the Westminster roof. He didn’t want to hear any of this now. He didn’t need Raphael condemning him. Ignoring his comments, he just repeated the statement… “Get Adriel… we need to go…”
Crouching down next to Adriel, Azrael carefully folded Adriel’s wings. Her hands were tainted red, the feathers soaked in the angel’s blood. Slowly, Azrael turned her over and took the Blade of Life from Adriel’s hand. The Blade of Life shone and shapeshifted, turning into a small sphere of Light in the archangel’s hand. Grimly, Azrael closed her fingers around the sphere of Light and carried limp Adriel’s body in her arms.
“I need not your orders, oh competent Leader of the Angelic Host!” Raphael taunted at Michael as he flew away from Michael to Adriel. He would have punched Michael if he wasn’t so severely injured. Raphael took Adriel by the arms gently while she remained in Azrael’s arms. “Are you alright?” Raphael asked in a soft voice to Adriel.
Carrying Adriel, Azrael blinked at Raphael as he walked to them and took Adriel’s arms.
“What’s your intent? I’ll take her, Raphael. She is from my Legions and she is under my responsibility.”
“What?!” Raphael exploded at Azrael, pushing his earlier anger at Michael towards Azrael, “She’s my friend and I can’t even help her?! I know you are going to mark her!!! Get lost, old hag!!!”
Azrael blinked at Raphael. “If you are asking me if I’ve book marked her, you should know by now that’s classified information, not for you to know. About helping her, what could you do? You are not a Healer”, she coolly said. “Uriel is. Why don’t you go getting her? That would be of help, for certainly your screaming won’t be.”
Azrael blinked in perplexity. “What do you mean with old hag?”
Raphael realized at that moment why Belial wanted to kill Azrael so much. He made a secret vow that he would help Belial to do so the next time round. He ignored Azrael’s words and took Adriel in his arms. Raphael flew off towards Rishta’s house and on his way, he transferred half the energy left in him to Adriel so that she might regenerate herself and heal her wounds.
Azrael was perplexed. Raphael just stole Adriel and flew away! She arched an eyebrow and turned to Michael for an explanation.
“… Why did he do that? It’d be better to get Uriel instead.”
“Heh… It’s a little more than that…” Wow. The stone of the roofing looked really neat when you stared at it up close. Was it marble? Naw, that’d be too heavy to go on the roof… maybe it was granite. Michael pushed his body up, wishing he could remained slumped over for the next three days. His movement only caused more blood to flow, and he doubted he fly his way back to Rishta’s home. Of course, he really didn’t want Azrael or Gabriel to have to carry him back… that wasn’t very heroic at all..
Are you a hero now? Think again…
Michael closed his eyes and tilted his head back, letting the warm rays of the sun dance on his face. The sun was nice. Bright and shiny. It had to be past noon. He missed lunch. He hated missing lunch. If he had lunch now would it fall out of his stomach? Azazel made a big enough gash. Maybe he wouldn’t live long enough to eat lunch…
Jerking his wandering mind back to reality, he opened his eyes again and glanced around the roof for Gabriel. He couldn’t let himself slip away. There was quite a few things he had to do… “I’ll tell you about it later… We can’t stay here all day…”
Azrael blinked at Michael’s reply, but since he didn’t answer her question she guessed the matter was unimportant.
“Yes, we can’t. The demons are moving while we stand here. You need healing; it’ll be better if the group doesn’t part. I’ll take you to Rishta’s manor; you can’t fly in those conditions”. Without more reasoning, Azrael put words to action and seized Michael, carrying him in her arms. The Book vanished. Invisible to human eyes, Azrael took flight, waiting for Gabriel to join and maybe Raziel would also come along.
Gabriel landed with a frown… The least the demonic bastards could have done was decide to play with HIM for once. “… I hate being the most overlooked,” he breathed, looking at the place where the Hellgate had been. He looked at Azrael, her hands red with blood and holding the white sphere.
“Is she one of the dead now?” Without waiting for an answer, he began to sing…
A haunting, mourning song… Terrible in its beauty and sorrow, bitter and sweet and joyful, reveling in death, a part of it, and hating it at once, shouting defiance while still raw with grief. It seemed as if the very air itself sang; the trees, the stones, the sky sang with him, who was coated in the blood of a demon and in the blood that rained from the sky as he stood on the ground, blood of his allies, blood of one that may now be dead or dying. Mortals would hear the song and cry, not knowing why. Demons would hear the song and bow their heads. Angels would hear the song and join in the celebration of passing. The church bells tolled, signaling the end of Mass, providing a brief counterpoint that was woven into the song.
Raziel sighed and closed the Book after Raphael took off with Adriel. Anything that occurred now he could entrust to his memory.
Gabriel’s Song took him by surprise, as did the sheer power in it… He never had guessed the archangel to be so strong. Raziel added his own Song in… Bittersweet and old, songs of skies that have seen many wonders and atrocities, of suns that died and took their charges with them into eternal night. Stars shining in empty space, to give up and allow the dark to take over more lives, destroy one more beacon, those who have fought back against all odds and failed, not knowing if there would be someone else to pick up their banner.
As Gabriel sang and his powerful theme surrounded them like the tide and Raziel joined his song with his own, Azrael watched them in a contemplative silence. Floating in the skies with Michael in her arms, her black wings seemed to absorb the light like a living void. Gabriel sang and Raziel joined him, but Azrael’s silence had a significance of its own – the archangel of Death and Destruction and Head of the Order represented much of what they sang, but the impenetrable mysteries that she kept did not offer answers to the living.
Azrael did not reply to Gabriel’s question, not to interrupt the song and maybe not to participate again. She was not meant to be part of the Drama; she belonged in the backstage – a director but out of reach. Azrael did not really belong in the group, and most probably she’d never belong.
Azrael felt Michael’s blood dripping through her fingers as she held him. There was no time to stay longer. Azrael bowed her head in salute to Gabriel and Raziel songs, then swiftly flew back to Rishta’s manor, invisible to human eyes.
(1) But, what’s…?
(2) Well, if you like.
(3) All those are miseries.
(4)Ah… let me sleep some more…
(5) He killed him.
(6) No… he’s not dead yet!
(7) Make haste!