War In Heaven

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isis

Isis

Vapors rise from the steam of the water and I observe it even as my skin reddens and burns under the onslaught. My fingertips dance along the inflamed splotches in a vain hope for sensation.

It’s silly really. Why would I want to feel pain?

I snap off the water and step out of the glass encasing. I wrap a bulky towel around my body and hold another to my long dripping hair. I clench it tight to expel as much of the water from its tendrils as I can before flicking it over and doing the other side.

Through the fog, my gaze fixates on my blurry form and my movements cease.

I wonder how long it will be before rumors develop of the massacre in Egypt. Three Angels and two Fallen killed by a possessed human is not a typical event. Humans for the most part are incapable of harming the undead for obvious reasons. We are a completely different race of beings, infused with God Himself and therefore untouchable by the lesser species. Yet, when humans are subjected to either celestial or demonic entities, the level that separates us is no longer viable. The human I used took a fraction of my Soul and thus followed my decree and killed for me.

I am free of guilt. There is no blood on my hands and there is no scar ruining my pure, pious Soul.

I slap the towel down upon the sink, sliding my hand over the skin of the mirror clearing away the film inspecting my flawless image.

They were after my Soul. Anyone would have done the same if they were capable of such a talent as that. How many in this world can rip off a piece of their Light and use it as I did? Who knows what else I can do? I don’t even know my limitations. What if I have none?

I drop my gaze to the sink.

Of course, I have limitations. All of us do. I cannot think in such a way. If the Merci catches even a whiff of my ardent ideals, I will disappear like Ariel and no one will ever see or hear from me again.

What if there were witnesses? What if someone saw me in Egypt? With their unrefined education, they will think I murdered those creatures. The Ruling will come after me. Perhaps even the Gloria Patri. My clan will be ineffectual to protect me. I will be thrown in prison like some common killer.

I have to go to the Ten Great Houses. Explain to them the truth and my limited options. They will appreciate the justice in my actions and block any attempt for the detention of my Soul.

Hastening from the bathroom, I stall at what lies naked on the bed. Though the morning sun rises from the open balcony doors, throwing light on the disarray of bed sheets and scattered clothing, my anger stems toward a different matter. “I thought,” I pull a pillow out from under his head, “I told you to leave.”

Matthias shifts, rubbing his eye sockets and rolling onto his back. Just as his arms are covered in various forms of religious tattoos, his well-structured chest and torso have similar markings, much disguised by the black of his skin. He rubs his chest, yawning but ends up wincing when he touches the swollen piercing on his nipple.

“I didn’t think you meant it.”

I snatch his pants from the floor, “What did I tell you about thinking?” I chuck the particle at his face. “Get out.”

“I take my punishment is over.” He chuckles, rolling out of bed, plucking his undergarments that are beside my feet. He shakes his head, slipping them on and sitting back down again. “I don’t get you, Isis.” He rubs his face again, trying to clear away the sleep from his thoughts. He takes a hold of his pants but he rests them on his lap. “You look at me as if you hadn’t just spent the entire night making love to me. I’m not just a fuck. I know I’m not.” He lifts his brown eyes, somber in his yearning. “So what are we doing?”

It’s the dumbest question he has ever poised to me.

A knock on the door stops me from stabbing the beating of his heart that he holds so tenderly in his hand.

I make a quick movement, telling him to be silent. He rolls his eyes as he slips on his jeans. I wrap a silk robe around my form, tying it loosely before coming upon the door. Holding it open just a silver, I find a soldier at attention. My heart wildly beats as fear irrationally sends warning into my head.

The Ruling has come for me, it screams.

“Forgive the early hour, Madam Isis but there is an urgent call from the Hunting Grounds. It is a matter for Sir Matthias.”

I am entirely ready to deny his presence but the fool comes up behind and pulls open the door. With me in my robe and him in nothing but jeans, the sight is obscene and no doubt this soldier will go on to whisper gossip. My reputation mars itself.

“Sir. There is a Vetalas attack on the Hunting Grounds. Over ten of them are barreling down upon its doors. Elder Hikmah Rezon lacks soldiers and strength to protect his men. He asks for help. We have a team standing by. All that is required is your go ahead.”

“Vetalas?” With enthusiasm, I grasp the door. “I’ll go.”

The soldier unsurely responded, “There is no cause for your grand attendance, Madam.”

I push the soldier needlessly in my excitement, “We leave in five.” I slap the door shut before spinning on Matthias. He drops his hands in surrender looking at me like a beaten dog. “How could you show yourself? I told you to stay quiet!”

He points to the exit, “The whole hotel has known about us for the last year, Isis. You made it plainly obvious your ownership of my Soul the day you threw Claudia from the doors of the hotel. I am your doll and no one else is allowed to play.”

I step up, my finger directly in his face, “That’s right. You are mine and you do what I say.” His eyes darken upon my admission. “Now get out.”

I step past him but he snatches my arm, shoving me back against the door. His body presses against me, his lips widening my own as our tongues battle furiously. I push against his shoulders. He only snags them in vice grips, pinning them to the wooden door in one hand while the other unties the sash and finds my breast, pinching my nipple hard. I growl, throwing my face from his. “Get away.”

“What makes you think you can talk to me like that? Hmm?” He slides his fingers down my abdomen swirling over my hip and gripping to my ass. “Apologize. Apologize or I’ll bend you over my knee.” He shoves a leg between my own, pushing his thigh up against my apex rubbing harshly my arousal. I feel his own upon my hip and push into it. His lips descend on my cheek, careening down my jaw and over my neck.

My breath increases as my desire escalates. I want nothing more than more of him.

Instead of lowering his lips to my breast however, he straightens, resting his mouth near my ear. “This is the only way I can get you to respond to me.”

I gape at the ceiling, my adrenaline washes away and a sudden illness floats in my belly.

“It’s sad.”

He sidesteps me and pulls at the door, forcing me to move. “I’m sorry, Isis, but I need more than this to keep me going. I don’t know how you do it. Dion isn’t the only one who can love you.”

As he shuts the door, I hurry to lock it behind him.

My knees shake in sudden weakness. I grip tight to my robe, tightening the sash, hoping to calm the chills racking my body. I make it to my dining table and collapse in the chair.

A few polished words and he strikes as a venomous snake slithering through a weed infested field. I wonder how long it took him to think of such a thing, to sharpen and hone a well thought weapon, strong enough to pierce through my aged armor and puncture skin? I kept him around too long. It is my fault. Now I sit here as a withered balloon lacking enough air to rise and do what needs to be done. I’m a broken toy, forgotten at the bottom of a child’s trunk.

My fingertips rub at my lips. What right does that man have to treat me as he did? He knows nothing of what I have gone through and what I go through. He doesn’t have a Soul Mate. He was lucky enough for his to perish. Not everyone is so blessed. He spent six hundred years with his. I wasted twenty-five hundred with mine. I loved, I cherished, I idealized every portion of Dion’s body, of his Soul only for him to walk away from me and Fall!

I hold no trinket to remind me of that man. I burned every item I was ever given. Everything that existed between us I destroyed and drowned. Dion does not exist to me. He is but a shell of a human being. He drinks from Tartarus’ waters and douses himself in tar. My Soul Mate is Darkness and for that alone I will fight forever for its demise.

The only love I need is God’s and I receive plenty. Matthias is a fool. A weak-hearted fool. I pity him more than I am angry with him. He searches for love and happens upon a woman void and invalid.

I cannot feel it. I do not want to feel.

A knock on my door tells me to move. I have to get up and stop this feast of self-loathing. I dress quickly, wrapping my wet hair in a terrible bun but with my long neck, the hair lays just right and I’m beautified. If nothing else, God blessed me with beauty.

The pestering knocks only prove to annoy me than to hasten me. I slip my feet into heels, splash myself with perfume, snatch my tacky necklaces from the nightstand and whip open the door with a bright and courageous smile.

The courtyard jams with twenty soldiers, prepared and equipped, standing in motionless rows waiting for my order. They were different gear than usual, subbing soft cotton for hard plated breastplates. Dealing with Vetalas takes a bit of skill that typical Angels do not meet with on a daily basis. My clan however is educated in all matters of Darkness and it reveals in the countenance of their posture. There is no fear bubbling amongst them.

Except for one.

Despite wearing the usual mask, Tessa is easy to spot and I lean my head to the side to capture her gaze. She slinks back in the line attempting to hide behind the body in front of her. “Come here.” I smile lovingly.

She denies me at first but doesn’t force me to ask again and stomps up in front with a bowed head. I peel off her mask, revealing her face. Glancing back at Matthias he stutters ready to make some excuse. I flick a hand in disregard. “Who did you steal this from?”

Her gaze is upon the floor. Again, she is hesitant which in anyone else I would declare insubordinate but in her, it is charming. “Derek. It’s not his fault. I told him I’d go out on a date with him.”

I kiss her forehead, smoothing out the terrible curvy bangs of her hair.

“Please let me go.” She hurriedly begs. “I’ve been in this hotel for weeks. I want to see a Vetalas.”

“Darling. The Darkness is no place for you.”

Her brows knit and her face suddenly twists, “I’m an Angel, Isis. I’m not your kid! Stop treating me like I’m ten years old!”

Soldiers murmur and whisper at her outburst. My pride suffers directly from her disregard. I do not care often and I love even less. After the way Matthias left me so brutally, my Soul is raw.

My hands fall from her and I step backwards, glowering, “Fine. If the Darkness is what you wish to see then see it. I don’t care about your Soul any more than I care for mine.”

“Now that seems harsh.”

Muscles tighten in my spine. I witness the alert of my soldiers as they reach for their rifles, unsure if they should take aim or if they should bow. Tessa’s complexion riddles in confusion. She knows not whom or what she looks upon just behind me. How could she? Without the use of the Source, Fallen appear as regular humans deceiving the populace and populating innocence with the mutation of their Light.

“Do you treat all your subordinates so appalling? She is just a child, Isis. Where is your heart?”

Matthias leans in behind me, whispering in my ear, “Isis, please get inside. We’ll defend you.”

I reach out my fingertips and run them through Tessa’s purple bangs. Her attention comes to me and concern creases her brow. Dion speaks Russian if only to unnerve me. She is ignorant of his words. I smile, attempting to ease her stresses. As long as I do not fear, she will stay calm.

Dion continues his callous banter, “Oh, you’ll protect her, will you? With this deplorable strain of combatants? Amusing as that would be, no I don’t think I will waste such energy. Isis, face me. You ignore me long enough and I grow aggravated with your disregard.”

Matthias touches my elbow, “Please, Isis, go inside.”

Dion’s bracelets jingle. The sound sends me back eons. Dion bites brutishly, “You may fuck her but you do not know her. Address her with proper care or I will geld you with a dull blade.”

My shadowy gaze darkens. Dion must always cross a line.

“Everyone, head to the Hunting Grounds. I will follow shortly.” Matthias readily objects but I swing my bright green eyes nippily, “I rely on no one. Isn’t that right, sir? Now leave us.” With amble hesitation, he ultimately obeys my command and the portal opens. One by one they disappear but my attention doesn’t falter to the man behind me.

The moment they are gone, I turn on steady feet. Lifting my sight, Dion leans over the railing an escape hatch. His hands clasped in front with his elbows resting on the metal bar. He looks down upon me, a wicked smile stretching his large lips. His brown hair twists from careless ventures while the medallion upon his chest waves. If I step forward, I could make out the Death Scar that lies upon his skin. I move my gaze away. He is uninteresting to me.

With four lifetimes spent as his wife, I’ve learned how silence is his weakness. How deplorable that such an easily obtainable action can render a giant to utter irritation and discord. If I could abhor him any further, I’d manage it if only for this disgraceful flaw.

I used to love it about him.

I was sold when I was fifteen to a man with three wives. I took care of his children and I made his meals and at night I shared his bed with unpleasantness. If ever I displeased him, for I seemed to have a knack for such a thing, he’d beat me and chain me outside with the goats.

Scouts were a typical sight. A village not far from ours sought our land and constantly raided our town in an effort to take it for themselves. I had seen much death in my life. My mother was raped and murdered when I was eight. My sisters were taken for slaves. I was always forgotten in these tragic moments. As terrible atrocities went on around me, I seemed to stop existing. Not even my screams were heard.

Chained outside, shivering from the cold and starving, is how Dion found me. He had snuck in to count our armory and loot where he could. He passed by me, meeting my gaze, seizing his blade, preparing to kill me. I don’t know what stopped him. I didn’t speak to him or make any promises of secrecy but he left and faded into the darkness.

Day after day, he returned and caught my eye. He even attempted to speak to me but I would not betray my village despite my growing hatred and I turned from him, keeping silent. He wasn’t discouraged, leaving behind a token of his affection on the sand.

Battle broke between our villages and chaos struck my village. I was tied to the front of the thatched housing and struggled to unbury the wood. Warriors fought all round me. Crying out, bleeding, and dying and I curled into a ball. I prayed this would be like those other times where I would be invisible.

But it wasn’t as I hoped. Freedom came but by a sordid man from the opposing village. He slashed my rope and carried me into my own home, ready to claim me as his own. My screams matched the crowd, not any different from the children weeping beside their parents, or the women too ashamed to stand, or the men that will never rise again.

Yet somehow, despite never once hearing my voice, Dion knew where to find me. He entered with his sword ready and sliced my assailant’s neck with heedless care. I laid there watching as he breathed for air, blood littering his brutish body and soaking in his hair.

-

“Answer me.” He orders, gaining my attention, “Where were you last night?”

I brush a curl from my face, “My whereabouts are not your concern. Why are you here?”

He flips over the railing, his enormous weight lands hard on his feet with dexterity. Dion saunters up to me and I lean back so I don’t have to look up to him any further. He is six inches taller than I and a beast in comparison to my lithe form.

“Despite what you think, you belong to me. I will not have you gallivanting off to Egypt of all places--”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“The hell you don’t. What were you doing over there? Why were you alone?”

“I have to go.”

Dion snatches my arm, pulling me back to him. He sneers, “I can still smell him on you.” He flings me away and I stumble with my footing. “That boy will never take my place.”

“That man is capable of everything you are not.” I grin impishly. “I can name a few things if you wish it. I don’t need your judgments. You of all people. I can fuck the whole world if I so wanted I will still be a better person than you. I will still be accepted by God!”

“God. What does God care of who you fuck? God accepts murderers into His safe haven.--”

“Are you speaking philosophy with me?” I burst out with a bright laugh. “Oh, now you’re going to tell me that the Fallen have beliefs and values too, aren’t you?”

We break off in silence and seethe in detestation. Terse lips and bitterness fill our eyes. We haven’t managed to speak civil since the day he turned to me in Heaven and told me he was leaving. It is a memory I would dig out of my brain if I could.

“Leave the girl to me.”

My brows widen, “Now the truth comes out, doesn’t it? Tell me. That day you came barreling through my hotel in search of Tymician, you already knew he was gone. You came for the girl.”

“Isis, you don’t understand--”

“She has extraordinary Light. A type that the Sins desire. I can only imagine what uses her Soul could give to anyone that knows how to harness it. You think I would let you have it?”

“War is coming.”

I cackle at his reckless desperation. “War?” I mock. “What game do you play, really? I am not some swaddling babe to believe any words that spring forth from that mouth.”

“The Princes are gathering their armies.”

My smile falters.

“Their numbers grow greater each day. There is a horde of Vetalas circling the skies of Sheol. I have never seen so many.”

I step away from him. There is a bench not far from where I am and if I can just get to it, I won’t make a fool of myself. My body folds, my knees quake, and I hold my stomach as nausea threatens. I grasp its handlebar and I force myself in its seat staring at the grass.

It isn’t the looming of war that engulfs me now. The world can crumble and cease and I will take it in stride for God is with me and I have no need for it.

What brings me to such devastation is Dion himself.

“You. You shouldn’t see them at all.”

He hastens beside me, “This isn’t about me.” He throws my upset away like it’s nothing, like it means nothing. “War is coming to earth. I don’t know what Lucius is planning but I know that girl has something to do with. She is best suited in my care.”

I flick my eyes up, “How far do you go?”

“Isis.”

“Your Soul may mean nothing to you but it is a part of me and I need to know, how far do you go?”

The hesitation only makes it worse. He clenches his fists and his pectorals ripple. “The Fourth Level.”

My mouth widens but just before the barrage of emotion barrels down upon, I sit up and slam the doors to the dam. Withdrawn and nearly catatonic, I stare at the sidewalk, unbreakable and yet more fragile than a wisp of hair. I will never weep before this creature. I made that vow long ago.

Dion kneels before me grasping my hands with harshness, “Why do you do this? I explained to you a long time ago why I left. God stole every child we created. I cannot forgive Him. He has to pay, Isis. I cannot punish Him by being virtuous. I am a fighter and I will seek vengeance until my Soul extinguishes.”

I snap to my feet, barring my back. “The sooner the better.” Swallowing harsh I manage to stab him the way that he has done me. “I will do everything in my power to see you unsuccessful in your endeavor. Because it wasn’t God who stole their lives, Dion. It was you who failed to protect them.”

In the core of my Soul, I feel his agony. With every child we lost, I placed the blame on others. I assured him of his manhood, of his pride and I never rested blame upon his shoulders. I hold my arms around me, regret forming in the pit of my stomach. I hadn’t meant it and yet I’m glad it wounded him so.

“If I’m to blame then as my wife, you’re entitled to half.” There is a quiver of rage in his voice. I close my eyes preparing for his brutal fist.

He’s gone. Just as quickly as he came, he leaves. He comes into my life, stirs all of my organs into a pile of goo and then spills my insides out on the ground for the world to see. How is it fair to have someone I detest own so much of my heart?

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