Wrapped in silence, Samael the Fallen One stared at the empty darkness.
He was the oldest being on the planet. So many millennia ago He′d followed the path from the heights to the depths. It was a hard, eternal fall - for every inch that tore Him from the place of angels and took Him into the void, a part of Him was also torn, disintegrated. However, He didn’t die. He didn’t disappear. He was an angel, and angels never die.
But with vivid clarity He recalled the time He was the most beautiful, brightest among all the angels - also, the cleverest. And yes, He was still beautiful. The defeat hadn’t changed Him into a horrible monster with goat legs and twisted horns as imagined by Christians.
Satan. So they called him. That name meant nothing to Him, as the other names He’d received, a never-ending long list... Beelzebub, Lucifer...
He was Samael, the Shining One - and even if He had dwelled so long in darkness, He was still beautiful, He was still full of light. Samael.
Ah, the Day of the Fall, what a pain! But it all began for Her.
He stretched His arms towards Her, who slept for centuries, and touched Her breasts, Her soft eyes, the sweet curve of Her lips, Her albino hair. She slept, and He’d watched Her since then.
Lilith, Lilith. My beloved, my wife, my sin. For you I fought the Almighty. For you, we all are in darkness. But I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else.
Ah, how He remembered Her, when the Lord had presented Her to the world! The first mortal woman - she’d seemed frail to them, so white, so thin, with those golden locks. She opened Her eyes and looked at Him who always stood by the Almighty. And how beautiful She was! Something like Her must die as well?
And then, what Michael the Archangel had said: She’s intendedfor Adam. She will be his wife, to breed the offspring of mortals.
For Adam! That dull, brute Adam! Just imagining Her at the mercy of that ape drove Him mad. So delicate, so sweet. Lilith. He fell in love with that beautiful creature not intendedfor Him. He sinned, yes, he sinned. Confronting the Almighty was sinful.
Yes, they said the Fall had been caused by treason - for not respecting the Son, the gift of human redemption. What did they know anyway. The Fall had been for Lilith, solely and exclusively for Lilith.
Adam the beast had failed to treat the beautiful gift he received as it deserved. He humbled her, as animals match with their females. In theory, that was right - they should breed. But she, who’d seen Samael and knew the thoughts of angels, much smarter than Adam, fled from him. She couldn’t stand him. The Almighty was angry and threatened to kill Her children if She didn’t return with the beast. And She said no.
Ah, how He remembered Her... He’d seen her by the Red Sea, kneeling in the sand, screaming, arms outstretched, head thrown back, foam rubbing Her belly, impregnated for the umpteenth time. Screaming with all Her might. Hey, Yahweh, kill them. Kill them one by one, if you wish. Kill this one I carry in my womb. But I’ll never go back to him.
The golden hair in the wind. The dark eyes brimming with tears. At that moment, Samael did what was forbidden. He went down with Her and appeared to Her. She looked at Him and stopped screaming.
If you come to me, I will make you happier than the angels of Eden, He’d said.
The beauty of the angel was so dazzling that She covered Her eyes. Have you come from Him? Will I be given back to Adam?
No, He said. She would never return. He was captivated by Her purity, Her beauty. The cunning, clever Lilith.
For you I doomed myself to the darkness. My love, my love.
A new wife, humbler, less intelligent, was given to Adam the beast. Eve. She meekly complied what was expected of her, but she’d also betray him, because that’s what Adam deserved. Eve was born from Adam himself, and it was easier for her to surrender to him.
But Lilith... Lilith... She should be eliminated. She was too rebellious, too vindictive. But even Yahweh didn’t dare to harm Her - She was so perfect!
He saved Her. Yes, Samael saved Her. He did what it couldn’t be done - He gave Her His blood. He opened His neck, letting his spiritual sap flow and Lilith pressed Her lips on Him. Oh, that ecstasy. My beloved, my beautiful. Soon She changed and transformed. She became immortal, and Her beauty was multiplied by infinity. It hurt to see Her, so beautiful and pure She was.
And then Yahweh’s anger. The Angels’ Council. Samael, Samael! Who but Me must give eternal life? Who but Me had to decide the fate of the mortal Lilith? By giving her your immortal blood, you have created an impure being who doesn’t have My blessing.No matter she must be destroyed!
Lilith didn’t surrender. When they tried to attack Her, She arose into the air. You won’t touch me, She said. No more slavery. Hey, brother, husband Samael, come with Me. The time has come.
Two sides. The angels, divided. Many joined their cause. The battle had lasted for millennia. And finally, the defeat. The Almighty was sheltered by His Ones.
And Michael, the Archangel, who was a friend and colleague, had crushed His head with the heel of his foot. Renounce, Samael, leave that infamous abyss. You can still be redeemed. Yahweh will forgive you, for you are one of His most beloved.
But Samael had closed His eyes. She’s my wife, my beloved. Wherever she goes, I’ll go.
Then came the coup and the Fall. Thousands fell with Him. They were banished fromthe heavens, sinking into the abyss. When He could raise His essence from dust, those beautiful angels that had supported Him had become horrible bloodthirsty monstrosities, which spread around the world to torment mortals. Torn, Samael spread His arms to find Lilith.
Both remained beautiful and pure. That would be their punishment - to dwell forever in the darkness, surrounded by the freaks they themselves had created.
But love was everything. They bred a race of beings as high and as beautiful as them. Yes, they dwelled in darkness, but Samael never regretted having defied the Almighty.
From His silent manor, theone now called Evil bythem, spent His eternity watching in silence humans who were born and died. How much He loved them - they reminded Him of the mortal Lilith, fragile and delicate. Yes, they hated Him, feared Him, because they didn’t know Him, but He loved them. They were perfect in their imperfection, beautiful in their ugliness. He loved them almost as much as demons hated them, torn by their deformation.
He lay upon Her and kissed Her. Her eyelids quivered, Her heavenly body shuddered. But She went on sleeping. She’d slept since Her children had terribly betrayed Her, disappointing Her. Samael had watched Her sleep in silence. There was noreason to haste,for impatience. They had all eternityahead of them and She was His.
Under His fingers, He noticed the beautiful heart beating softly. The dark heart began to fill itself with energy. The time of Her awakening was near.
What troubles you, my love?
Samael received only silence in reply, as He turned His vision into the mortal world.
He loved that silence.
It was then when Schäffer saw everything clearly - or at least he figured it out. It was useless to wait... he′d total faith in his Lady, but he’d have to be blind to not to notice something was escaping from the situation She believed She controlled. Surely it wasn’t in Bathsheba’s plans that this happened.
“Wake up her, dammit!” He yelled. “Is she breathing?”
They had found Giselle’s body, face down, stiff as a log of wood. The two assistants he’d called fearful lifted and laid her on a stretcher, while another doctor examined her frowning.
“Morphine.” He said. “She’s totally sedated...”
“Will she survive?” The mercenaryasked impatiently.
“Yes, of course.”
“Good. Take care of her.”
He adjusted his gloves and went out, walked quickly down the aisle, followed by two of his men, while he was giving orders: “Spread squads 3 and 4 on the beach. The rest must come with me. I’ve had enough aircrafts flying over the Island. If they want trouble, we shouldn’t make them wait any longer.”
“Prepare the missiles.”
Lara and Kurtis stopped at the halfway. They heard voices and shouts down the hall, and the sound of boots pounding the ground.
“Schäffer has spread his men out.” Lara said, and picked up the communicator. “Justin! Beware up there, they might attack!”
“Roger.” Said the soldier’shard voice. “We’ll face them.”
Kurtis had advanced a few steps, holding the Boran - which Lara had returned to him. A few feet away from him, they saw Maddalena and Radha around the corner, both bruised, the redhead very pale, but serene. They came at full speed towards them.
“Grazie Dio!” The Italian cried, and then noticed, shocked, that Kurtis hadn’t a single wound anymore.
Radha ran towards Lara and hugged her instinctively, as she spoke hurriedly in her language. She still was talking when suddenly, lights went off, one by one, abruptly, and left them in the fading darkness.
“They’re not willing to let us go.” Lara said, looking for a flash-light.
“We’ll see.” Kurtis grunted.
They sharpened their hearing and heard them approaching from the lower floors.
“No chance of leaving below.” Lara added. “The dungeons, the floors below, will be monitored. The only choice...”
“... isto go up.” Maddalena concluded. Her voice was faint. “There’s an empty heliport on the rooftop. You have a helicopter, didn’t you?”
She heard Kurtis’ voice in the darkness: “They might not go down.They’ll shoot at them.”
”Wehave to try, Kurtis.”
“They’re here!” Shouted Radha, who was leaning over the stairs.
The four people ran in search of the ascending stairs.
Sobbing in pain, anger and humiliation, Bathsheba fell on the sacred circle.
This time, the Great Goddess came to her without being summoned - it was enough to hear Her daughter’s mourning to appear in front of her. She leaned forward and pressed the Nephilim’s head against Her breasts as She slid Her thin fingers through her hair with Her arms around her. The beauty was faint, almost unconscious.
Lilith put her face back and drank the silver tears running down her cheeks. The cry was subsiding - being held by Lilith was the source of all comfort. Gradually, she felt her strength restored.
My Daughter, you, my beloved... howcould he have done such damage to you?
The Goddess could feel the deep hurt inside Bathsheba. Lilith, who was strong and eternal and could sweep life with one stroke could see the damage received. She saw it as a bleeding ulcer in her daughter. At that time, the Nephilim was weaker than ever. Her life wasn’t in danger, since only a Periapt Shard could kill her, but a mortal child had morestrength than her right then.
Finally, Bathsheba managed to speak. “He did what is forbidden, Mother. He touched me... he grabbed me. I tried toretreat, but I couldn’t. He started to drain my energy... seizing my strength! He healed himself stealing my power...” A sob cut her words.
Lilith’s lips were kissing her tears. That made Bathsheba confused and angry; she didn’t understand why her eyes were dropping water...
Because your body still has the true essence from when it was mortal. Ah, I love mortals’ tears. I shed so many of them when I was a woman given to a visceral gross brute. Don’t be ashamed of your weakness, Daughter, you will be avenged.
“How? It’s enough for him to hold my wrists to drain my energy! Who gave this man such power?”
He gathers all the skills and powers of his Order. He doesn’t know, but he’s stronger than all his predecessors. Moreover, my Daughter, he doesn’t know what has he done or how he did that. I assure you his intention was only to protect the mortal woman, to get her away from you. The rest has arisen only because there are very powerful forces protecting him. Therefore he should be spared until being before me. Be patient, My Daughter, you’ll recover from the attack.
The pain was subsiding - she still felt weak, but opened her eyes to met Lilith’s inscrutable gaze. The Nephilim shivered as Her lips slid to her mouth. “I’ve failed. My plan hasn’t been carried out.”
Not at all. Do you think my eyes can’t see anything? I sleep but I’m alert. It was for good he committed such a sacrilege against you. Until now he was too pure in the eyes of the immortals. My Husband couldn’t have been able to blame him... Ah, He and His love for mortals! But who forces an angel commits sin, and in that we’ll be like the Almighty: we won’t forgive.
“What should I do for now, Mother?”
Sleep, recover yourself in my arms. Let everything take its course. When you awake, you will be strengthened and prepared. The time will come, Bathsheba, Daughter of Karel. Sleep.
Floating in a cold mist, the beauty abandoned herself between the Goddess’ white arms.
The missile threat was no joke. As soon as the aircrafts were seen in the clouds, there was a tremendous explosion. The missile struck the tail of a plane and made it spiral down to the sea, crashing into the waves.
“Bastards!” Justin screamed at the sight. He noticed the mercs deployed along the beach. Very well. He ordered to shoot at them. Again another missile struck another aircraft. A new wave of fire. This would be tricky.
“Lara!” He shouted by the communicator. “They’re firing missiles at us!”
“We’ll try to climb to the top heliport!” He heard her answering. “Bring the helicopter, keep the others busy!”
Justin nodded and adjusted his gloves. “Here we go.” He murmured.
The rise was endless. Radha felt a terrible pain in the chest after running out of breath, but she assumed Maddalena would be suffering more, hurt as she was.
Kurtis beat down the door leading to the roof with a kick - but they didn’t go out. He and Lara stuck to the wall and peered outward. Everything was deafened by the noise of thechopper’s propellers, coming down slowly. It almost managed to cover up the explosions and flashes outside the Island.
They saw people waving from the cockpit. Marie and Marcus were there. The British explorer waved in return. Then she turned to them: “Radha will go first. I’ll cover her.”
“No, I will.” The Lux Veritatis said suddenly.
Lara frowned. “Kurtis...”
“Trust me. They won’t shoot at me - and if they dare, they won’t reach me.”
“How can you...?”
“Lara. Trust me.”
Finally, she nodded. At that time, there was a tremendous explosion. They shrank against the wall, and saw a trail of fire heading towards the sea.
“They’ve brought down anotheraircraft!” Maddalena said, terrified.
“C’mon, Radha.” Kurtis urged.
The Indian girl went next to him. Seeing her, Lara noticed how much she’d grown since the last time she’d seen her. The girl reached Kurtis’ shoulder, and he was a tall man. She′d had a tremendous growth spurt.
Lara had no more time to think, because in that moment both them came out running at the helicopter, whichhovered almost touching the ground. The propeller’s roar was really deafening, and the wind shook the girl’s dark hair, wrapping her head in a black cloud.
The British explorer should have guessed that - at the moment they saw them out, about ten different mercenaries left corners of the roof to attack. Lara, however, didn’t wait - from her parapet she drew her gun and fired. A shower of shrapnel hit the steel door and she rushed to hide behind it, while Maddalena shrank at her side, watching the sparks dotting the door.
For Radha any distance traveled in her life was not as long as those twenty paces. Projectiles rained around her, but she didn’t even have time to scream. Shielded by Kurtis, she ran thoughlike everything was in slow motion, until she finally saw the brown arms of a dark-skinned woman who pulled her, boarding her on the helicopter.
“Go up, little one!” The old woman said.
Kurtis had retreated to the ladder’s dugout. At that time something exploded near him and he was thrown against the wall. A grenade.
“I’m fine.” He said, standing next to Lara.
Maddalena leaning out of the stairs, shouted: “There are mercs going up!”
“Well, here we go.” Lara determined. “The three of us.”
The redhead urged herself to control her trembling legs - underher panties, she even noticed the sticky traces of blood, and when they ran, the air struck her face and another burst of fire blinded her eyes. For a moment she glanced at the beach and distinguished cast shadows on the sand. They were the bodies of fallen mercs, soaked each one in his own pool of blood.
Then she was driven up.
Lara was about to board when a cry stopped them. Sitting as she was already, she noticed Adolf Schäffer in the doorway. The boss said nothing. He just fired.
Maddalena screamed. The bullet hit the upholstery and a ball of foam jumped. From the back seat, Marcus shouted: “Dammit! Come up at once!”
As their boss was there advancing a few steps, mercs didn’t fire anymore. At the time Lara drove to climb, another bullet grazed her thigh. A stream of blood leaped and splashed Maddalena’s blouse, who let out a cry of horror.
Kurtis stepped in and fired towards Schäffer – the boss wore a bulletproof vest, but the Lux Veritatis shot him repeatedly and dropped him back to the ground, screaming in pain with damaged ribs. His men rushed towards him and fired again.
But Lara and Kurtis had gone into the helicopter and the door slammed shut. The bullets now couldn’t but leave slight swellings on the glass.
“Don’t worry!” The pilot said. “Bestbullet-proofing in the British Army!”
Slowly they began to ascend. Lara sat back in her seat, with Marie and Marcus bending over her, examining the injured thigh. “It’s nothing.” She murmured, and then she smiled at Kurtis. “We’ve made it.”
He smiled back.
The pain disappeared and the blood no longer flowed - Marcus was moving his fingers over the wound.