They came for me. The Glorious Merci.
I was naïve to think I had time. I am always being watched. This is what they have waited for, a weakness, a flaw, a fallacy and I provided one by killing those fools in Egypt. Will I ever step foot on Earth again? Will I be imprisoned like some common killer? Will they compare me to the repulsive murderer Anna Martholow?
Arriving in Heaven, Addo, the door’s watcher, marks his sheet upon my entrance. He keeps track of all the comings and goings of each high-ranking Soul. He’s three and half feet tall, with wings nearly consuming him. He trips on his own feathers attempting to keep pace with me as I zoom right by, spitting out words with a stuttering complex. He is a Cherub, an Angel child, willing to spend time with the ‘grown ups’ of society.
Cherubims occupy the Sixth Level of Heaven and usually maintain a life of obscurity until they develop. It is a pitiful lifestyle and one truly detested by the normal growth of our society. Angel children are unsightly and distributing in this holy sanctity of optimism and bliss.
The first child ever born to Heaven, was Ema. She was the first and only one of her kind despite the hoards that would soon follow her. There were no levels to divide us then and daily, I had to look upon her foul form.
It is true most of the Angels loved her. She was a daughter or a sister and they doted on her with gifts if only to hear her sweet laughter and witness her charming, child-like smile.
Dion and I both despised her for everything she represented. All the children I had echoed in her girlish giggles and their deaths reflected in the gleaming of her black curls. When she Fell and caused the entire realm of our world to collapse in despair, I was the only one grateful for her absence.
Addo finally manages to spit out, “Welcome, Madam Isis.” He stops pursuing me to my relief.
I continue my fast pace, “Where’s Metatron?” My only hope for salvation is through that man.
“The auditorium, Madam.” He shouts back from over the distance.
The green suited Medjay direct me to the private hallways, using their own set of keys at each access point. I pretend to be confident and unaffected but my heart pounds with such exuberance that I can scarcely breathe without panting.
Dread spreads down into my fingers. I hadn’t had time to visit the Ten Great Houses and explain to them the situation in Egypt. Who will save me from the Merci?
The Medjay stops short and bows at the waist, shocking my anxiousness into awareness as I rest my eyes on the man rushing toward us. Metatron’s assistant, Fulton, expands his bushy wings to cease his steps before folding them comfortably up into his back again.
“That will be all. I thank you.”
The members bow towards me and leave us in the expanse of the empty hallway. As any virgin man, his gaze lingers too long and his cheeks redden before he coughs into his hand and he focuses his gaze on the clipboard in front of him as he begins his speech. “Madam Isis, thank you for coming.”
“You are Fulton, correct?”
He bows with his fingertips pressed to his forehead. He is young but because of his station, he is not required to lower to his knees. “Yes, Madam. I’m honored you know who I am. Forgive the suddenness of this encounter. His majesty, Metatron willed it to be done.”
“Metatron?” It takes but a moment for realization to pour over me. I manage to keep the breath of relief stuck in my throat. My heart continues its pounding and I’d do anything to grin in wild victory. The Merci isn’t after me yet. I’m safe.
Licking my lips to stop myself from laughing I force out tight, “What could he want with me?”
“If you’d follow me, we don’t have much time. I need to debrief you before the meeting.”
I quickly take my spot beside him as we walk the back paths toward third Heaven. He unlocks each doorway with a particular key given to only special officials. The day I became an Erelim, I received a set of keys much to the disinclination of several.
Fulton quickly begins. “This may come to a shock to you and I’m sorry to force this upon you so hastily but it must be done. We have begun preparations for imminent war with Sheol.” My muscles tense but Fulton doesn’t notice as he continues with his speech. “Since you are the highest ranking Angel on the Earth plain, Metatron has asked you to take on the role of General Commander of the Angel Forces.”
“Angel forces? What nonsense is this?”
“This will be spoken about. Metatron plans to create an Angel army.”
My cackles echo and I struggle to calm myself, “And what Angels are these? Heaven Patrons: ones that find Earth too frenzied and flamboyant for their lackluster grace? Or does he believe Earth Patrons will sacrifice their Souls, beings that desire greedy substances and seek unholy love to fill the void in their existence? Neither of which, mind you, are fit to do battle with imaginary foes let alone real ones.”
He has no response, telling me I’m wasting my time arguing with a man of limited power and knowledge.
My lips pursue and I feel the well-known tinkle of rage boil in my veins. “Let me guess. Dane Monte said no.”
I will always be stuck in that man’s shadow. Always in last place. He has me by a thousand years but we are worlds apart. What makes him so glorious? We are not that different. We both worship and honor God the way it should be done. I, at least, still have the capacity to care.
Fulton doesn’t balk at my aggressiveness. “Forgive me, but that is true. My Lord Metatron will not hide that fact from you. It is not the lack of faith or the lack of love, please be assured--”
“Spare me.” I keep my pace. I will prove myself worthy. I will not fail. Ariel threw the New York Council at my feet when I was unprepared for such a position. I did not understand the Earth, the cultures, the Darkness, or Nature. But I learned many things in such a short time. I am naïve no longer. I will glorify my name in this war. Dane will learn what it’s like to live in obscurity. I will make him ancient history.
We enter out into the Third Level’s center hall. My eyes widen finding hundreds of Elders congregating, forming lines, attempting to enter the main auditorium. The noise is boisterous, echoing the vaulted ceilings. Fulton calls for me and though I meet the eyes of several, I move away from them, heading up the back staircase.
With a slight knock, Fulton pushes open the door, holding it for me. I adjust my stance, tightening my lips to a scorn ready to display my avid disapproval as Metatron’s second choice, preparing to have him plea for my assistance.
Only, my mouth drops wide at the sight set before me. Four of the seven Arch members occupy the room and their holy visage is consuming. As it happens, luck is on my side as they are the male representatives of the Arch Family.
My attitude shifts. I bite my lip, tilting my head to the side as I place my delicate fingertips upon my forehead, “Sirs.”
“My Lady.” They reply in unison.
Uriel, with his black hair braided down nearly to his hips, barely wears clothing that covers the skin of his body. I roam my gaze fleetingly over him before meeting his weary scrutiny. I can’t help the flush that heats my cheeks. I remember well every encounter we ever had. The muscle and power beneath those big hands of his were enough to keep me satisfied for several years. Until of course, I found someone else. Either the impassive stare can be read as a scorn of hate, which he held for me for some time afterward; or it is the taciturn disease that seems to effect more so than not old brutes these days.
Beside him stands Raphael, the leader of the divine medical group Apothecary. Dressed in white robes with stitches and designs of blood red thread, he is not the most handsome of the male line. He has a thin face, a long nose, and beady eyes that I have never cared to gaze at for more than a moment.
Sitting down at a wooden table is the ugliest, foulest man I know: Sariel, the Ruler of the Merci. Fat and lumpy in odd places, I can’t stand the sight of him. He looks at me with a lust-filled gaze, sneering his thin lips. I skip over him quick enough and plan to ignore his existence for the rest of the evening.
It is the new one, the child leaning up against the far wall, distant from his brothers, that draws my attention. Michael seems to glitter with his gorgeous skin, a chocolate brown that appears perfectly edible from my vantage point. His diamond blue eyes meet mine and I witness the undeniable desire for love and craving for approval. His emotions wear on his sleeve. Gold and silver armor decorate the front and back of him but leave his biceps and thighs bear, displaying the might of his muscle.
I saunter over to him with an amiable smile and a few pieces of my hair playing in front of me. I will gladly quell any desire and craving he has. It would take no time at all to get this youngster into my bed and make him a man. And what a man he would rightly be. “I don’t think we’ve had the pleasure, my lord.”
He straightens, very nervous suddenly by my proximity. He licks his lips, his eyes flickering in wild directions, “Um. I. We. Met. We met once.”
My brows knit. He refuses to lift up his gaze and look at my face. My smile fades and any fun I had in mind is fleeting. It’s discerning and ruins any attraction he had going for him. His lack of confidence is like a stank of a skunk. Perhaps this is why I don’t remember him. He’s not worth a moment of my memory.
“Oh, good.” Metatron’s voice filters, “We’re all here.” I swing around, thankfully dismissing Michael from my sight. Heaven’s Chancellor appears disheveled, his gray hair slightly unkempt and his eyes wide with alertness. Upon seeing him, I don’t feel much like chastising him.
Metatron embraces me quickly, kissing my cheek, “Thank you, Isis for doing me this favor. I will remember this.”
The little recognition is all I need. Perhaps if in the future, I need something of my own this will be a bargaining chip but right now, I can appear to be the better person, “Anything for you, your majesty.”
His gaze extends to the four men behind me, “Thank you for supporting this endeavor as unwise as it may seem.”
Uriel, though disinterested, remarks plainly, “It is unnecessary.”
“I hope it is all unnecessary.” He cracks a withering grin and goes for the door. I have rarely seen Metatron nervous. I wonder if I should be.
We journey out in a single file line. I am the last to sit at the end of the procession. My belly fills with dread upon facing the twenty-five hundred Elders that are before us. They fill every seat and stack in the walkways while more pile along the outer edges of the auditorium.
We built this lecture hall the same time the Greeks began building their theatres. Upgrades in the past few hundred years granted this spacious room leather seats and two levels of balcony seating. Yet Elders continued to grow in number and our seats did not.
From appearances, only Hikmah and above were asked to come to Metatron’s impromptu meeting. Despite the fact that they are all of the same age group, the oldest and most respected gather in the first tier of the balcony. I find two of my own Elders from NYC sitting together. Matthias isn’t here, one of us should always be on Earth safeguarding our clan.
Obnoxious giggles gain my attention and my green gaze falls to the front row. Any scorn in my features dissolves as I make eye contact with a rare sight.
The Erelims of Heaven.
Dressed in elaborate costumes of purple and silver velvet, they sit beside each other and gossip behind bejeweled fingers. The beauty and extravagance is spellbinding capturing the eyes of anyone nearby. The Royal Seraphim never step foot out of the Sixth Heaven. To witness their remarkable Souls is a sight even I have rarely had the pleasure of.
My back straightens and I look to Metatron. The Serium’s presence places a severity on the situation. Dion’s warning wasn’t all lies and if Metatron is overreacting, he’s making a huge error.
Metatron holds up a single hand and the jabber halts instantaneously. His voice carries far over the distance and reverberates. “Honored as always to be in your presence, thank you for coming. I do not however have much time so I will hasten this speech. The rumors of war are forlornly accurate.” Whispers murmur. “Lucius affirmed his objective moments before we called upon you.” Urgent movement starts quickly as panic sets it. “He willed us to be prepared. As cocky and as prideful as he has ever been, he desires a fight, a good one, and bids anyone willing to come for him.”
He stalls for a moment. “I understand in the past we have relied on the Fallen to subdue any disruption from the Darkness. However, I fear they will need our assistance in this battle to come. I suggest an Angel opposition. Anyone willing enough to aid their Fallen brethren against this vast foe.”
Absurd outbursts reach my ears and I hide my laughter. Metatron is innocent in his views. He doesn’t understand how much we value our Light and at what lengths we’d go to protect it. How could he know? He’s never struggled against the threat of losing his Soul.
A royal member stands and a silence hastens over the crowd to behold her in reverence. Dark purple robes roll down toward her ankles and silver thread outlines the fabric. Upon her breast, there is a gleaming symbol of a giant hand with a palm facing outward. To Earth it was a mark dedicated to a religious cult known as Jainism. When the Royal Court took this as their representation, there was a short cry of disapproval. Jainism states that God is not of existence and that all living things are of equal value.
What the Royal Court really wanted to say in this act of defiance, I’ve yet to understand.
“Tatiana.” Metatron greets her, motioning for her to speak freely. “Please.”
She nods her head, her blond hair coiling all around her like long strays of ribbon. “You’ve called upon us twelve times in the last eight thousand years. How many of those times has Sir Lucius actually assaulted the Earth?”
A man abruptly stands in the back, “You show such a beast respect?”
She stares pointedly at Metatron as she replies. “He is the Son of God and a man I knew well once.”
A stray comment floats in the air, “That’s saying it lightly.”
Tatiana cares not for the fire upon her back. She is strong and fervent. I admire her, I find.
“I loved him well at one time. There are many of us that did. His Majesty, Metatron; God, Himself. Lucius is a good man and holds the strength of our Father in his Soul. So yes, I will respect him.”
I look out to the crowd, waiting for a response. It’s humorous to find that no one is daring enough to speak.
“Please, sir, the answer.”
“And of those two times, your majesty, after the panic and the terror we caused and the displacement of so many humans, did he win the day? Did he come close? If we had ignored him, was there any need at all to get upset over such a speech?”
He holds up a finger. “To this I will defer to Sariel.”
Heaving up on his bulbous legs, Sariel adjusts his green robes so the prominent symbol of the Merci will make itself present upon his shoulder. He stands before the podium and clears his throat. “From the numbers I have received, there are over two hundred thousand Demons, devils, Pishachas, Wekufe, and Alu, gathering in the Third Level of Sheol, all under the dictatorship of the Four Princes.”
Panic is once again singing through the hall and it takes more than several moments to calm them. My heart beats ferociously but all I think about is Dion and his Soul drowning in the waves of the Darkness.
“We have never dealt with forces of that mass before. The Princes have not sided with Lucius in any of his defiant tantrums. This is the real thing. Lucius is not only talking this time. He means to end the world.“
A woman in the back takes a stand, “Without Tymician, how will the Fallen fight? There is no one to lead them.”
“We plan to contact each individual Clan leader and assist them where it will be necessary but the fact remains, they will be outnumbered and overpowered without further aid. This will be a completely combined force.”
To the left, a man gets to his feet, “You expect us to fight? Most of us are farmers or secretaries. We run orphanages and homeless shelters. I’m six thousand years old and I’ve never seen a gun much less held one. I don’t know anything about fighting Darkness and I won’t force my clan mates to fight such evil either. We’ll wait in Heaven while the Fallen do their job.” Shouts of positives echo through the Elder order.
I am not surprised in the least.
Metatron returns to the post. His head is down and the silence rings along with the familiar sting of guilt and shame. He looks out to the crowd, searching for a single Soul to stand beside him. “When did it become the Fallen’s job to die for us?”
A voice, too afraid to stand replies, “When they turned their back on God.”
Despite the callousness of the statement, many agree to it even though they shame themselves. If I could, I would nod my head along with them. The Fallen chose their lifestyle. The least they can do for God is protect His world from the Darkness they breathe. It isn’t asking for too much. God gave them their Soul. They need to pay back that Light which they steal every day they live by keeping us safe from the foul shadows of the underworld.
This is when I come in. This is my part. If I am to become the Ruler of the Angel race, then I must stand up and play a role. How do I do this? How do I lie before all these creatures? Metatron himself can read my mind at any given moment. If he delves into my head, he will surely shun me. But who else does he have to rely on? I am the only Erelim on his arm. Ariel is absent. Dane Monte has refused to show. I am all that he has that knows Earth and all its delusions. I will become great in this war and this is where it starts.
Michael is upon his feet and all my ready words drizzle to the ground. I watch him with tight knit brows as he takes the lead at the podium. His hand grips harshly to the sword clipped at his side. He stares out upon them, eyeing each one with a conviction in his jaw. His straight back, the unwavering power of his stance stills all thoughts and I glue to his face, barely capable of breathing as I wait for him to speak.
“Your Soul is no greater than that which you fight for.” A baritone of a voice vibrates in my chest. “You believe in nothing, you become nothing. You fight for nothing, you are nothing. The Fallen contain higher faith then any one of us. They would rather shed their wings, torture their Souls, and live in the damning worlds of Sheol then to live a single moment untrue to their faith. But where is your faith, I ask you? You speak of fear. You concern yourself with fallacies. You desire only comforts and securities. When it comes time to prove your faith, you falter! You cower! The Fallen are not our Saviors! God is my Savior and I will be His.” His eyes trail downward and the epic proportion of his voice dwindles. He is losing the stored confidence and he whispers lastly, “As all of you should be willing to be the same.”
He backs up, slightly embarrassed by his outburst, refusing to look up as Metatron pats him on the back. He sits back down beside Raphael who whispers into his ear that has him choking on a laugh. He adjusts his sword upon his lap, fidgeting once again.
I fume, outraged by his unjustified speech. It was my turn to make my debut, not his. I could care less for this mutant child. He needs to return to his mother’s teat.
Metatron gazes out upon the silent crowd. “You will not be alone. I am waking the Prophets. The humans will fight beside you. You allow them to die in your stead?”
The same Angel to speak is upon his feet, “Forgive me, your Majesty. But yes. They have multiple chances, this is my last and if you see me as a coward then I implore you to love as God loves.”
I stand at this moment, seizing their quick attention. “A coward you are. Hide in Heaven, shame yourselves, and be done with it. I am over you, sir. I will do no such thing. I do not agree with Arch Michael on many implications but he and I are seen as equals on one term, the Fallen are not my Saviors! I will lead those Angels that do not lack courage, that do not lack faith, and those that wish to win this war, they will follow me and we will prove ourselves worthy of God’s unwavering adoration!”
Voices rise up, a hundred or more, I can’t be sure but it is a joyous sound. Pride fills my chest noticing Elders on their feet, clapping and hollering, ready to follow me to the end of the world.
I will fight the Darkness. I will bring all of God’s Angels together and we will end the Devil’s evil plot. Earth will survive and it will all be because I am at the helm of this ship.
It’s my purpose. It’s what I’ve been waiting to find. Nine thousand years, ten dead children, and eons full of misery led to this moment of victory.
A single voice, condescending in her tone cuts through the harmony of this perfection. My smile slips away as I rest my eyes on Tatiana who sits in her chair with crossed legs, leaning her head against two manicured fingertips.
Flickering her gaze toward Metatron, she inquires, “Where is Lady Ariel? Or Sir Dane Monte?”
Metatron shifts, realizing the insult upon my person. He stands up for me, “I have chosen Isis with viable cause. Do you disapprove of my choice, Tatiana?”
She glances to the left, a few members of the Royal Court catch her eye. After a moment, she waves a hand, “Of course not, your majesty. Just simply….surprised.” She meets my gaze once more, smirking, proud she’s managed to unnerve me. “Are we done here?”
Metatron bows his head, “One more moment of your time.” He grips the edge of the podium and the crowds quiet quickly.
I return to my seat. My attention is only upon Tatiana. She hides a giggle behind her tiny hand, leaning over to whisper into her friend’s ear. I curl my fingers, digging my nails in my palms. I would do anything to have her locked in my dungeon. She wouldn’t do well on Earth I’d imagine.
“This news is the vilest I bring you. Prepare and be strong.”
I flip my orbs over to him. What could possibly be worse than the end of the world?