In all the silence, it was easy to notice the slight shift in the dark clouds that lingered above in the bleak sky. A young woman regarded such a seemingly simple thing from the rubble of Earth below with intense concern etched in her soft features. Something was wrong.
Unfortunately, she had no way of telling what was wrong. What little power she had only allowed her to sense that something had upset the delicate balance between realms. Such a thing would be maddening to some, but in lieu of any impatience in her being, the woman decided to only hope that, given the desolation of The Third Kingdom, whatever it was couldn’t possibly do anymore to damage what once deserved the title of Kingdom of Man.
So, she continued her walk, but despite her resolve to simply adopt the old Human mantra of “hoping for the best”, she was unsure how to think or feel. However, this problem shortly disappeared at the sharp sound of voice addressing her in such a manner that she had not heard in a very, very long time.
Be it out of a genuine force of habit she had created for herself or a sliver of rebellious stubbornness that laced her attitude, she simply kept walking, stoic, yet soft expression not all changing.
Now, out what of what was undoubtedly what was a complete lack of tolerance for such behavior, former and latter, a great pressure of wind was created to stop the woman in her tracks. It was as quick and sharp as the earlier voice, flicking stones from the rubble of the ground to her face, causing her to instinctively wince and a smooth wave of her hand, whose course lengthened in order to push back her dull, mahogany locks away from her charcoal eyes. She was once again addressed in the Ancient fashion, the double-edged spite dripping from each word that followed very characteristic of this militant personality.
“Do not ignore me, Zadkial.”
Her threatening tone and glare was accompanied by a flourish of fluorescent wings and a glowering of topaz eyes. All she got in return for such a spectacle with a sigh and an almost sad smile coming over the woman’s lips as she looked to Uriel.
The sneer of confusion was quick to replace Uriel’s deep frown.
“My name.” She continued, her voice gentle, just carrying a pinch of an as-a-matter-of-fact tone, “My name now is Rakaia.”
The lack of fear, of confusion and of any general agitation on the small woman’s part caused the Angelic Warrior’s to settle and fold behind her back as she sighed, audibly frustrated.
“I had forgotten how willing you were to let all aspects of your previous state of being, fall, along with yourself.”
Rakaia online chuckled. That was not the reaction Uriel had wanted, evident by her scowl.
“Ah fall, like fallen. Clever, honestly. But I do believe it was you who told me to never dare even bring myself to think I was anything even akin to an Angel. I thought you’d like my new name.”
As if this encounter posed no threatening implications whatsoever, Rakaia walked on, passing Uriel. She expected her to follow. There was most definitely a particular reason that an Angel felt the need to speak with a Fallen Angel.
“It’s like you’ve branded yourself.” The Angel commented with a bitter hiss, almost reluctantly walking with Rakaia and with or without thinking, she constantly took stronger strides to always ensure she was at least an inch in front of her. Rakaia hid that she had noticed this very well. Someone was in a hurry.
“More like re-branded myself honestly, wouldn’t you think?” It was clear that the much more leisurely pace at which the Fallen strolled at was not what Uriel was used to and not exactly what she found amusing.
“I do not have time for idle talk, whatever your name is now, it is of no concern to me. I do not care.” Uriel snarled, scrapping the ground with her heel with how abruptly she grinded to a halt to stop Rakaia in her tracks once more.
“What I care about is your meddling and that I must waste my time resolving matters that you should already know not to involve yourself with!”
Rakaia watched her, meeting the glare of her eyes with a soft, hurt gaze. An unwelcome vice clutched Uriel’s heart and she winced. Damn, those eyes. Fallen or not, they still had… Something. Something that created uncalled for guilt for her. Uriel ran her tongue along her top row of teeth, allowing her mind to note such a trait as weakness, the same fragility that had caused the Archangel’s fall from the White City, from grace.
Suddenly, the angel’s stomach dropped when the Fallen’s dark eyes narrowed, glowering at her intensely. Her voice commanded an authority that she should no longer possess.
“I was prohibited from interacting or involving myself with matters of Celestial beings and I abide by this. All other matters I involve myself with and all my present undertakings are, to be perfectly candid, none of your or any other angels’ business.”
Was the snap in Uriel this response caused from fear or mere impatience? It was hard to say, but Uriel herself, for one, would never admit it was the former. No repercussions would arise from raising her blade to a being of no rights…
A shrill clink of two blades connecting resounded throughout the wasteland of Earth. Uriel’s eyes widened, finding herself holding her Angelic Blade to the side. It had been swept away… By nothing but a dagger blade.
The knife, an athame would one note if they took the time to study it, had an almost menacing sheen off its silver, double edged blade. Its hilt was leather, a murky brown and laced around the groves was what looked to be thin, scarlet ribbon. Rakaia, face tarnished with a shadow of disappointment, guilt and something like frustration or annoyance.
“That… That’s Abraham’s Blade...” Uriel spoke in a hushed, awed whisper, watching Rakaia sheath the weapon back in its holster, which was strapped to her thigh.
“I do not wish to fight you.” Rakaia murmured, staring at Uriel with… An almost apologetic expression. Uriel swallowed, gripping the hilt of her sword tightly. There was no point striking again after that. Under different circumstances, she would have attacked, ripped the relic from her hands and kept it until there was some way to return to the White City. But she couldn’t. Headstrong as she was, Uriel couldn’t bring herself to take the weapon away from Rakaia. From Zadkial. The one who had taken the knife to stop the sacrifice of Isaac at the hands of his father Abraham, a sacrifice that was meant to ensure an eternal treaty between Earth and Heaven, that Angels would offer the humans protection.
It was easier to believe that the blade was as much outlawed as the former Archangel of Mercy was and not a piece of history. A shame, really. Uriel had heard the stories of her power, but also of her great compassion. But of course no one would remember that. The infamous story of her unparalleled benevolence being her ultimate downfall was all that would remain in the minds of the generations of Angels that came after her fall.
Uriel’s thoughts were broken with soft sigh that escaped Rakaia’s lips, “I will stay away from matters of the Hellguard. You did not ask me to treat that Angel… In retrospect, I should have known better. I bid you a last farewell. You… You make a good leader. I can tell. Boisterous in temper, yes, but you are commendable in your power.”
Uriel almost choked on her attempt to bite back, because, honestly, there was nothing to bite back at. An admittance to her meddling and reassurance she’d stay away. Uriel just swallowed. It was a true that the woman had come across one of her angels, weakened, and had saved him from a weak demon that would have got in from behind. She had even gone so far as to treat his wounds… It didn’t sound at all wrong, but it was. And it had to be dealt with.
“See you don’t do it again.”
The Fallen had already turned and had begun to stroll away, but raised a delicate hand in a wave of acknowledgement to the order. Uriel clenched her jaw, unfurling her wings to take flight. But there was still something on her mind, in the pit of her stomach, bubbling anger she couldn’t just let fester. She would not let that patronizing Fallen have the last heard word between them!
Rakaia was once more stopped by a pressure of wind from a stubborn flying angel. She blinked in confusion. What had she done in that last few seconds? Been visible? Perhaps she should have walked faster…
“I used to admire you and you strength, until I heard of your weakness. How you became an Archangel is beyond me! You’re a Fallen and it is disgusting that you stand there, holding that dagger like a “warrior.” I should do away with you for your meddling, it would be no different than killing a demon!”
All this anger, each word drenched in a genuine, vicious spite, gold eyes boring holes into Rakaia’s sockets, her sword rising inch by inch with each furious exclamation. It was a met by a simple, stoic sentence.
Uriel’s snarl slowly fell, eyebrow rising and sword dropping, if only slightly, “What did you just say to me?”
With a flash of light, the woman was behind her, her foot tapping between Uriel’s two armor clad feet, pulling at either side of her waist very gently. Uriel was too stunned to object or react to such audacity. How did she…? Her powers were… What in Heaven’s name was she doing? … No, no, that would should be out loud.
“What in Heaven’s name are you--?”
“Keep your stance wide. And your body lowered.”
Uriel felt a sharp push between her shoulder blades, pushing her down and she made a gasp of utter disbelief. This… This was a regular, battle stance. Amateur teaching! But… It was a stance she couldn’t recall employing in a long time.
Rakaia smiled, her expression still soft, but now, it was firm. Like a teacher’s… She spun gracefully so that was once more in front of Uriel, with an arched eyebrow and small smirk on her lips.
“If you plan on lunging at me, I stress that balance is the key.”
The shock faded and Uriel let the fact that this Fallen had dared to touch her fuel her anger. Growling, she leapt forward to strike her down.
“How dare you patronize me?”
The swing was clean, sharp and it would have taken a limb off of any demon. But this was not the case. Rakaia stood to the left, all limbs intact. Furious, the thrusts and swipes of Uriel’s blade only strengthened in their intensity.
“I will not stand and be mocked and looked down upon by a worthless Fallen! You hold no ground over me Zadkial!”
But each time, no matter how well timed or how perfectly executed, Uriel’s attacks would not land on the steadily breathing Fallen. Uriel took shallow gulps of air, so that Rakaia could not note her exhaustion. Uriel had to hold back a growl from what she perceived as a stony and patronizing expression, proving her attempts had been unsuccessful.
“Uriel.” Her name rang out like an order, a command, but she didn’t stop there, “Right foot, left foot. Find your stance and then go even faster once you discover a rhythm.”
Tactical advice was the very last thing Uriel wanted to pass from this abomination’s lips, but then again, if doing what she said would aid her in striking that smart mouth… Right foot, yes? Then left foot. Right foot. Backwards, forwards, picking up speed. Suddenly it was… Easier? It was no longer a constant struggle to maneuver the massive sword to and from different angles whilst moving her body. In fact, even though still dodging with such frustratingly impeccable timing, Rakaia was now the one almost panting for breath. But that wasn’t all she was doing. Uriel swear she could see the corner of her lips upturned.
“Excellent!” Uriel’s eyes lowered, keeping up her attack. That exclamation held a tone that was dangerously close to being proud.
Uriel’s eyes snapped open again, a pained gasp forced out of her lungs when she was pushed back by something that glinted brightly in the dull, cold sunlight. When had she drawn her weapon?!
The two blades hit off one another, Rakaia with the advantage, her quick, viper-like hands moving at such quick speeds, Uriel could hardly see what she was blocking against. It was a true example of how the size of the blade became inconsequential to the battle when facing with a person who could utilize their weapon with such skill, such grace. Worse still was that she had put in a defensive position where she couldn’t even attempt a counterattack. But could you really counter an attack that wasn’t at all offensive? Rakaia was only trying to push her back, the blade of her athame only ever connecting with her white armor. But why?
“Whenever you are moving back, keep your eyes forward, on me in this case.”
Without a question or even a bitter thought, Uriel found her eyes trained on Rakaia’s, the spark in them undeniable. Even in the midst of the delicate tactic of trying to gain the offensive advantage, Uriel could not help but notice it. Gritting her teeth, training her eyes forward on Rakaia, she was blocking the swings of the dagger blade on pure instinct alone.
Right foot, left foot, forwards, backwards, eyes locked and the clashing of blades echoing around the two women. They looked to be in a kind of dance of combat, their movements flowing with a natural rhythm. With one final hit, the two blades were throw back, held high in the air by their two wielders, both of whom had only just started to break a sweat.
The two hadn’t spoken a word and had let the silence been filed by the sound of their blades, so now, Uriel felt a little uncomfortable, almost as if she had just completed an intimate act with someone she should not have. Breaking her from her thoughts was the quiet sound of Rakaia sheathing her weapon, the smile on her lips… Was sad, perhaps? Uriel felt no need to question how Rakaia’s strange emotions worked, but not only that, she simply didn’t want to. She felt calm now. As if she had regained composure. She had to admit, albeit begrudging, that she had never fought like that with anyone before. It had been a good method of relieving stress.
Rakaia spoke again, “Amidst all the chaos, sometimes all a warrior has is their feelings and a weapon. Demons, Angels, even humans. Truly I believe that for the cause you believe in you must give everything you are, everything you have.”
“I give everything to my cause. Everything I have, my will, my sword. It goes into my duty.” Uriel almost muttered, the passion in her voice resolute. She was not challenging the Fallen, but rather engaging with. Not going so far as to understand her completely, but at least trying to express that she understood that one, quietly spoken philosophy.
Rakaia looked at her with that same smile, that smile that made Uriel so unsure of herself. It was too bright for the ghastly surroundings. Uriel couldn’t imagine seeing that kind of smile on anyone in these times, especially one a being such as a Fallen.
“I know you do. I once felt like that. But… It seems I put too much of myself to kindness, to patience, in a time when kindness and patience were not exactly what was best required. But nonetheless, I give myself to and fell for… Mercy. And I will continue to, even if I fall to the depths of Hell, I can assure you I will have fallen for nothing but mercy. It is how I was created. I am no warrior.”
The two stood and stared. Just started at one another in silence, with Uriel trying to comprehend such misguided passion and Rakaia trying to force down the cruel nostalgia that hid behind her soft features. Suddenly, Uriel smirked.
“Not a warrior? Then where did you learn such stances and maneuvers?”
Rakaia only laughed in reply, “Well, perhaps all angels are warriors for their cause, let us say that. All have different ways to fight for the different causes they have in life.”
“Some fight more than others.” Uriel mused, memories swirling around her head of the fighting she did here right on Earth, on the fighting she continued to do this present day. Listening to the words of Rakaia, confusion had begun to slip through the newly formed hair cracks in the foundations of her beliefs.
Rakaia, as if reading her thoughts, graced her with that serene smile once more, as if to try and soothe her.
“Fight for your cause no matter what Uriel. I know you already have, seeing as you chose to be here and not go back to the White City. Today, I challenged you, improved your battle stance, but that was because it needed improving. The stance you have firmly taken in your calling as a warrior does not.”
“Good day Uriel. I’ll do my utmost to completely remove myself from the presence of you and your Hellguard. Allow to me apologize once more.”
With that and a quaint nod of her head, Rakaia took one last look at the angel warrior and smiled before turning around and walking a different direction from the one she came.
Uriel watched the Fallen, Rakaia, leave, her expression unchanging as she called out to her.
“My warrior reported the Demon was nothing significant. With your skill, you had better be able to handle more and be more efficient if you’re intent in not leaving my soldiers to die.”
Just as before, a raised hand in a gentle wave was Uriel’s sign of acknowledgment. She sighed heavily and turned to walk away herself. She had lost all track of time, noting how far Earth’s sun had sunk in the horizon. Unsure why, yet not stopping herself, Uriel chanced a glance back at the Fallen angel as she went further into the distance of debris and distance. Zadkial. Rakaia.
It wasn’t a case of fully understanding or even fully accepting. Perhaps it could be called new-found respect.