An Angel's Mark

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The whistle in the wind alerted Daniel to the impending fist hurtling towards his forehead. He dodged it just in time and crouched down sweeping his right around in a circle in order to knock the figure off balance. With his Chrysoar resting comfortably in his hand he raised his right arm to deal the final deadly blow. The sword ignited with the hell-fire and the demon quickly pixelated and disappeared. Whilst other angels would have taken time to revel in their success Daniel remained alert. He felt the hair of the nape of his neck shift slightly and he pushed his elbow back and up above his head in order to crush the face of the demon that had just materialised behind him. Just as he turned to engage in combat with his adversary the lights went up.

“That’s enough” Archon chirped cheerfully from the viewing box many levels above him. Despite his irritation Daniel knew his bubbly friend was probably right. He sighed and made his way out the door and up to the box where Archon and five others were patiently waiting.

The Demon Warfare Class had finished hours ago but Daniel ever the disciplinarian had stayed to perfect his techniques. Not that they needed much perfecting,he was not top of the class but a conversation could not be had about the best fighters without mentioning his name. The Doomsday room was created by the seven to prepare angels for just that. Before the Fall there were no such thing as demons, God simply just judged human spirits the way he saw fit and this decision was universally accepted. However, when Lucifer began to rule Hell it all changed as word spread to human spirits of just how excruciating the punishments they would face were. What worried the spirits of previously malevolent humans most was that each and every punishment was always rightly deserved. They had never thought they would have to answer for the atrocities they carried out on Earth, so unsurprisingly some spirits tried to remain on Earth even after death.

Lucifer felt that rounding them up was work beneath both himself and his generals so he came up with a solution. He provided some of the most despicable humans with a choice, to burn in the eternal Hellfire whilst experiencing every bit of hurt they caused in their human lives. Or to work as Hell keepers with control over Hell hounds, not human but not spirit either. The solid form he gifted them with allowed them to go to the surface and drag these pesky spirits back to the pits of Hell as the Hell hounds viciously snapped at their heels. This was all good and well but God nor any of the seven would be taken for a fool. Should Lucifer one day stage an attack on Heaven they would make the perfect foot soldiers. Hence, the creation of the Doomsday room which used technology to simulate the demons angels could possibly face in the future.

The Doomsday room was perhaps one of the most important rooms in the College. Since the humans that underwent the transformation into demons never actually faced punishment, they never actually came to terms with their wrongdoings. The worst of humanity stood before you when you were in the presence of a demon with all their cardinal sins amplified and packed into one ruthless body. Their eyes were black and devoid of any love or feeling, all that swirled the dark abyss was hate. They were nasty and by no means honour bound so if you stood in their way they saw no ill in stabbing you in the back, quite literally. They would gauge your eyes out and laugh while you bled, rumours had even been heard of them chaining angels to walls. Whilst ripping out the feathers of their wings one by one simply because the agony brought them a relaxing sort of comfort. The young Nephilim would have never faced or even imagined such brutality before, so it was crucial that for the own protection they could learn to face it with ferocity in equal measure.

Before Daniel could open the door Archon pulled it open for him from the other side, his blond highlights bouncing up and down to match the jubilant skip with which he walked. He offered Archon a kind smile which paled in comparison to the one he received back but he could tell he appreciated the gesture. Archon just wanted to show his gratitude for all the help Daniel had given him in the last few hours. For you could never accuse Daniel of letting his own desires overshadow the needs of others. Once he had made the decision to stay behind he had immediately asked his six roommates if they would like to join him. He had then taken the time to aid them in improving their individual fight styles before he had finally worked on his own. He had then expected them to leave but they insisted that they would all walk back to their dorm together. Archon had gone first as he could see that though the other five were very grateful for Daniel’s assistance they were worried about embarrassing themselves. As the worst fighter of the group he knew that they would all feel much better about volunteering after him. It was not that Archon could not defend himself but instead that he found it hard to tap into the ferocity inside him. He thought it an indulgence and for that reason his Chrysoar wouldn’t light with the Hellfire. As each Chrysoar was an extension of an angel’s being chosen by them on their first day. The sword could sense true intentions and wouldn’t act against them.

“Think of it this way Archon. Demons have no conscience or remorse. If you have to, see it simply as preventative self-defence against a heartless enemy. If the situation was reversed they would not hesitate and neither must you. They chose this life and we must protect all other creatures from them should they ever stray from their given positions.” The logical argument Daniel presented allowed him to approach the situation with new eyes. He was not indulging in his anger by attacking, it was a necessity. When the simulation was restarted, this time with a demon at his mercy the warm amber flames of his Chrysoar illuminated his face. He knew he would see a rapid improvement in his skills from then on.

“If Archon hadn’t called you up, you can be sure I would have. We didn’t just stay because we felt we owed you. We stayed because someone had to make sure you didn’t stay up practicing all night.” Ramiel teased snapping Daniel out of his evaluation of Archon’s session with him. His arresting features were painted with a rare playfulness. His sense of balance and control made him a strong fighter in his own right. It was his inability to detect the more erratic moves that demons could display that sometimes left him vulnerable. With Daniel’s support he quickly improved in this area of his fighting and it seemed he was also showing his gratitude by letting his guard down around his closest friends. Though they had known him for weeks now they could all sense that this was a turning point in their relationship with him. Sometimes he could come across as a bit robotic due to the fact he had such good control over his emotions. However, Ramiel was starting to see that around his friends he could be much more relaxed. It was not something they would tease him for but instead encourage as they appreciated him making such an effort to engage with them.

“You got that right. If you are ever need a job in teaching you could give Elder Tabbris a run for his money” Sablo joked along with Ramiel.

“I say we have spent enough time in this room. Let’s blow this popsicle stand.” Ever the comedic relief, Sablo was a great fan of odd human phrases. No matter the situation the others couldn’t seem to help but chuckle in response. In terms of his fight style Daniel had noticed the he had a lot of energy but was rather wasteful with it, so he had suggested he think about each attack before he mounted it. Then he could put all his energy into its execution making his fighting much more destructive to his opposition.

As Sablo led the group through the maze that was the College’s right wing towards its centre, Michael and Nathaniel drifted to the back of the cohort with the intent to once again thank Daniel for his help. Warmth shining in both of their eyes.

“Thank you so much for all your patience and understanding.” Michael said as the first of the two to speak. Daniel felt warmth blossom in his heart as he saw the sincerity in his eyes, he felt so appreciated. Michael was much more of a defensive fighter, always waiting for the demons to attack first. Daniel had told him that though there was nothing wrong with this it wouldn’t hurt to wage an attack first on occasion to add variation. Michael struggled with this but tried again and again with an unwavering enthusiasm. Then Daniel had an idea, he suggested that Michael attack with his next defensive move clearly in his mind. By doing so Michael felt comfortable knowing he would not be left vulnerable and the predictability was soon removed from his style of offence. The fact that Daniel had not given up even though it had taken him longer to show improvement touched him greatly and he wanted him to know that.

“It was remarkable how much effort you put into analysing each of our styles so we could really improve. Especially when you could have just stayed behind alone and completed your practice in a fraction of the time”. Nathaniel agreed. He personally struggled with separating the demon from the person they had once been and for that reason his Chrysoar was not readily lighted. Once again Daniel came up with a solution, he told Nathaniel to see himself as protecting the humans that still did exist. For demons without responsibility simply caused pain and he knew that wasn’t something Nathaniel could let happen. He surprised them all on his next attempt attacking with a savageness greater than any of them had ever seen in him or any other angel. They all trusted that he would protect them with his life and excel in doing so should the need ever arise.

This time in response to the kind words a blush formed on Daniel’s cheeks. He never did anything for his friends because he wanted their gratitude but when it was so freely given, it made his actions even more worthwhile.

“It was nothing, I just saw how I could help and voiced my opinion, you were the ones who were humble enough to accept and act on it. It is nothing you won’t do for me andI am sure I will struggle with other challenges in the future.” He quickly retorted so as to avoid any further undeserved gratitude.

Daniel then turned and placed a friendly hand on Micah’s shoulder dragging him along with him. The boy had a habit of letting everyone else walk in front of him and Daniel never wanted him to feel like that meant they respected him any less. In fact they respected him more for his endless humility, it was something they all felt they could learn from.

“I can come back with you early tomorrow morning if you would like” Micah suggested ever the selfless one, he wanted to give back to Daniel what he had sacrificed for them and that was his time.

“Are you kidding? I had more than enough practice.” Daniel replied earnestly.

“I really appreciate the offer though but if anything it is Sablo who should be offering. His boundless energy almost made my head spin in the beginning it was like herding a feral cat. You were by far the easiest to coach and you and I both know I didn’t really need to tell you anything. All you needed was to display a bit more confidence to complement all those incredible skills.”

“I heard the Danny Boy” Sablo retorted not annoyed in the slightest. He knew that Daniel was joking as it was the only way he could give Micah a complement without the boy melting into a pool of embarrassment. They all burst into fits of laughter along with him taking the attention away from Micah.

“Thank you Daniel, and Sablo you were nothing like that in the beginning. I promise.” Micah responded. He was improving with each day as he received more and more encouragement from his friend to display a little more of the confidence he harboured internally. They reassured him that would not make him arrogant and that his humility was a very desirable trait. However Ramiel always reminded him that his humility, though wonderful should never result in him not standing up for himself or failing to demand the respect of others. Though Micah didn’t care either way if other people respected him as long as he could respect himself, his friends pointed out to him that disrespect and rudeness were not things he should ever put up with.

Daniel and Sablo therefore considered it progress that Micah had simply accepted the compliment without feeling the need to justify it. They felt their hearts melt a bit at the grateful smiles he sent their way, which acknowledged his respect for them doing everything in their power to make him feel comfortable.

Before they knew it they were opening the gold door to their dorm, which was actually much more like a studio apartment. On their first day all the young Nephilim were split into dorms of seven and naturally this group had all just been drawn to one another. They each had their own room which they had decorated to their own tastes whilst they shared a communal sitting area. Since angels needed neither sleep or sustenance they spent most of the free time together studying, talking or simply just meditating. On this night in particular they could be found discussing their hopes, first impressions and worries with one another concerning their College experience so far.

Daniel smiled to himself as he considered the young angels sitting around him in a circle. From the moment they had met he had felt that they were all meant to be the best of friends. It was all so serendipitous that he couldn’t help but feel like there was more to it.

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