The Council chanted in a language Aurora did not understand and Melloch roared. His feet pounded against the old boards and Aurora watched in horror as his bottom jaw opened wide like a snake ready to devour its prey. His face contorted and she silently pleaded for Gabriel’s body not to break. Beside her the bed flipped up onto its side, crashing against the wall like it had been thrown by an invisible spectre.
“What’s happening?” She cried as an antique dresser lifted up off the ground and smashed back down again. “Lucius…”
But he did not respond. His eyes were closed as he and the Council continued to chant at the demon in Gabriel’s body.
From the doorway Harrison called out, his eyes wild. “Jesus Christ! What the hell is going on in here?”
“Harrison, Aurel is hurt. Take him and get my sisters out of here. Get them as far away from here as you can and do not look back. Promise me Harrison, don’t you dare look back no matter what.”
He nodded and scooped Aurel up into his arms. In the corner Melloch twisted his head at an angle so extreme it seemed impossible that Gabriel’s neck would not break.
“Are you sure?” He asked, staring past her.
Every window in the house exploded and shards of glass flew across the room. Melloch roared as his face twisted and changed between human and demon.
“Jesus Christ,” Harrison breathed. “What the hell is that thing?”
“It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it’s not Gabriel. Don’t you ever think of him this way Harrison, promise me. Now get my family out of here, please.”
The Council chanted and light shone out of Gabriel’s eyes. “This world will burn,” he hissed in a voice that made Aurora’s skin turn cold.
Lucius stepped forward and shouted. “You will leave this vessel and return to the fires of Hell. I cast you out. Leave this Earth demon and do not return.”
Melloch laughed and with one motion sent Lucius flying out cross the room.
“Damn you beast,” Roman shouted. He ran at Melloch but was tossed to the floor like a rag doll.
“Is this all you have woman?” Melloch laughed. “You will lead me to the others and I will start with the whores downstairs.”
Aurora glanced back at the doorway and to her relief, Harrison was gone. “You can take my life, but I will never help you,” she shouted. “Not now and not ever.”
Melloch grinned and snaked his tongue along the inside of his middle finger. “I know what you taste like. This vessel reeks of you.” He fixed his dead eyes on her. “Your mother cried out for you that night. She screamed and begged but you never came, you were too busy hiding like a little bitch.”
“Do not listen to it,” Lucius managed as he got back to his feet. “That’s not Gabriel.”
“I know,” she nodded, tearing her eyes away from it. “What do we do?”
“We have to cast it from his body like an exorcism.”
Melloch rubbed his hands together and bile dripped from the corners of his mouth. “I can taste you.”
“We need to distract it somehow,” Lucius whispered. “If we can distract it long enough to perform the ritual, we can send it back to Hell.”
Aurora’s mind raced. There had to be a way. “I have an idea, but I need a connection.”
“There…” Armain pointed to an overturned planter that spilled dirt across the floor.
“I don’t know if that will work. I’ve never tried it without touching actual earth.”
“We don’t have a choice child,” Lucius told her. “Just do your best.”
Aurora dropped and crawled across the floor. When she reached the fallen planter, she buried her hands in the dirt and prayed her call would be answered. The Council joined hands and Melloch roared. Within moments a wild wind blew in from the forest.
“They’re coming,” she breathed. “Be ready.”
Suddenly hundreds of ravens burst through the broken window and spiralled themselves around Melloch. Like a ballerina performing a perfect pirouette, they flew in a tight circle, turning and diving, pecking at his face and eyes. Trapped inside the flurry of birds, Melloch roared and one by one they began to fall. They crashed to the floor and the sound of their dead weight hitting the wood was more than Aurora could take.
“I’m sorry,” she cried as the birds fell. “Forgive me.”
But the birds were relentless. For every one that fell another took its place until Melloch was wrapped in a tight spiral of screaming feathers. The Council chanted and Melloch roared. The floorboards tore from their joists and Aurora screamed as a piece of timber flew through the air crashing into splinters against the wall. “Hurry Lucius, we don’t have much time.”
Inside the funnel Melloch screamed. The Council chanted faster and louder. Suddenly the spiral of birds unwound like an explosion and funnelled out across the room, the force of their wings blowing through Aurora’s hair as they flew out the window and back toward the forest. Lucius dropped his arms and opened his eyes. Gabriel’s limp and broken body fell to the floor and the room became silent.
“Gabriel!” Aurora fell to her knees and cradled his head in her lap. “Gabriel…”
“Aurora it’s no use,” Lucius whispered.
But she would not hear it. “Just give him a minute, okay? Just wait. Gabriel wake up. I know you’re still in there. Please…”
“Aurora I can’t bare this child,” Lucius told her. “He’s gone.”
“No, he’ll be alright.”
“No Aurora, he won’t. Now please, you need to come away.”
“I can bring him back Lucius. Melloch said he was trapped inside.”
“Melloch is a liar. He was just trying to hurt you child. Gabriel died on the battlefield just as your visions predicted. You saw it for yourself.” Lucius knelt down on the other side of Gabriel’s body and looked at her gently. “You cannot raise the dead. Not even we can recreate life once it has been taken, you know this.”
“You’re right,” she told him. “You can’t. But God can.”
She gathered as much earth as she could from the fallen planter and carefully spread it out across Gabriel’s chest. “Help me Lucius, please.”
Lucius glanced at Armain and Roman who both shrugged helplessly. “We can’t child. We don’t have those kinds of gifts.”
“Lucius, you were given the dagger of the archangel Michael and you just cast Melloch from Gabriel’s body. Just try. Please, that’s all I’m asking.”
Siegfried, Roman and Armain glided over and knelt beside Gabriel. They rested their palms on his chest and closed their eyes.
“Absurd,” Lucius sighed as he reluctantly rested his hands alongside theirs. “This will not work.”
“I need you to be positive,” she told him. “Focus your mind on Gabriel being returned to us.”
Lucius nodded and closed his eyes. “So be it.”
Together they bowed their heads as Aurora asked God to return Gabriel to the broken body sprawled out on the floor.