Chapter 1 : An angel, a demon and a psychic walk into a bar. (Well more like a disaster)
Azec tapped his heel impatiently against the outrageously orange plastic seat, of which he was not happily sat on. The bustle of the many cubicles around him filled the air around him, each holding either an angel or demon on duty to take performance evaluations on many of the guardians taking care of humans on earth. Each tap, tap of old blocky keys drowned out the demon’s slow thump, thump of his fingers as they danced on his support workers discoloured desk. He could remember these desks being a solid wooden white, but hundreds upon thousands of years of demons appearing in a puff of smoke, or a burst of flame, had ashened the colour (which, really, was rather rude when you consider the fact that there was a perfectly good staircase right there. Right. There. Kevin. Why are you even using demonic methods? You’re an angel. Why are you like this Kevin? Why?).
This space had been where heaven would issue orders to their angels on Earth, but had been changed to accommodate the demons now working for them; switching from thwarting department into the guardian check in. Azec didn’t really see the use of using such a large space, when they could easily send an email or message (not by post, oh dear no. Gabriel was in charge of that and honestly the amount of lost mail wasn't worth thinking about). Well, they could if it wasn’t for their refusal to update the equipment since 1622 when the abacus was the most tech they could stand to use. It was only out of hell’s complaints and insistence on computers that had Azec’s support worker stab at the keys with disdain. The support worker’s steel blue eyes bore holes into the poor machine. Angels were not known for their technical expertise, in fact many angels could not even turn on a computer let alone use it (Except for Elijah, she seemed to be the only angel that sought out change). Azec kind of had to agree with them. He could acknowledge the ease at which they could communicate now, but some things were just ridiculous. What even was a selfie?
Azec gave a deceptively calm smile to the unimpressed angel assigned to him and his partner, “She’ll be here.” He promised, though a little uncertain. The angel only raised an eyebrow, shuffled his papers (still maintaining eye contact in that creepy way of his, mind you) and gave a hum of sarcastic agreement, that told Azec that the angel really didn’t believe him.
“How about we start without her?”
“Oh, I couldn’t possibly do that. Wouldn’t that slow us down in the long run? I’d have to explain all we discussed to her when she gets here.” Azec said, with a deceptively polite smile.
“How about we start with this.” The angel pulled open a file with Elijah’s name across it. He clicked a pen and began scanning the file. “It’s funny,” He said not looking up from the file, “but you seem to be the only demon she’s behaved for.” He finally looked up only to rudely give a suspicious glare to Azec, who took it in his stride and smiled warmly. The angel looked him up and down, “Why is that?”
Any other demon would have begun sweating and mumble unintelligible words, having the scrutiny of an angel who could smite them for lying to them and questioning their partners strange new attitude. But Azec was not just any demon. No, he was Azec. Because apparently that meant he was different? Who knows, Azec didn’t and as long as it worked, who cared?
So, as it was that Azec replied coolly and with no hint of nervousness, “Maybe she just needed the right partner.” He stopped the drum of his fingers and lent forward a little as if telling a secret. The angel lent back with a look of disgust from the closeness of the demon.
“Yes.” He replied, “You’ve been working with her for close to three thousand years now. And yet we haven’t received one report about her doing something unangelic.” The suspicion was back on his face, “All her other partners had, and she doesn’t seem to have changed her attitude.”
Azec shrugged, “Maybe she’s gotten better at impulse control.” Azec tried not to laugh at that (Mostly because he knew that Elijah had very little impulse control. Though she had been getting better with each century).
The angel gave another of those unbelieving hums and lay down the file, “We’ll understand if you wish to be reassigned…”
Azec shrugged but inside he panicked. If he was reassigned, then he’d have to do actual demony things. You see my dearest believers; Elijah and he had a deal. Neither of them were very good in their roles and so had agreed to swap, Azec would perform miracles on occasion or offer a gentle nudge to a human to do what was right, and Elijah would dole demonic punishment and temptation. It worked rather wondrously for them so far, and they both felt marvellously themselves. If they were to gain new partners, they would have to play roles they felt ill fitted for.
“Has my paper gone through?” Azec distracted as best he could. Hoping the papers for his ascension to angel status once again had been approved, he’d been trying to get them approved ever since the two ‘departments’ merged. As of yet it hasn’t happened, his request was either denied or ‘lost’.
The angel intercepts his own eye-roll and pursed his lips. Evidently it hadn’t. But the Angel made a grand display of turning to his filing cabinets and shuffled through the papers there, all the while trying to get Azec to join him in what amounted to slagging off Elijah.
“I heard Elijah use to be the angel of children, a seraphim sat at the throne of god.” The angel threw over his shoulder. Azec hummed, a dangerous edge to the sound (a warning that any smart angel would take, yet unfortunately for us, he was not indeed a smart angel). “To think she threw it away, just to see what those humans were doing.” The angel tutted.
Peculiarly, Azec started in his seat ( Started wasn’t quite the word to use, more like he almost jumped out of his vessel) and glared down at his right foot, which had mysteriously obtained a right hand, judging by the placement of a thumb and the four fingers wrapped around his ankle.
Slowly a golden haired, head pulled itself to the surface, took a desperate breath and wheezed out a “Help.” Before it sunk rather quickly down through the floor again. Azec jumped to grab at what he now knew as Elijah’s hand and gave a firm, jerky pull that had Elijah fly from the portal on the floor and right into him. Elijah couldn’t find her footing (what amounted as the angel tube always made her woozy) and fell. Taking Azec and his luminous chair with her.
Elijah gave a small cry as she landed face first into Azec and breathed in a breath of ash and sulphur. Elijah, before this point, had been doing a rather good deed.
Now it wasn’t so much that either of them couldn’t do a good deed or a bad one, it was just the execution of the thing. For example, a cat in a tree. Let’s say your neighbour’s cat was stuck in a tree, it’s a very tall tree and your neighbour is a little old lady who made you those fairy cakes for your party last year (so you’re emotionally invested in this cat getting down safely). Any normal person would grab a ladder and get the cat down, very sensible of them, which is what Azec would do. However, Elijah did not have the common sense to think of this and instead would come up with some convoluted plan, that would inevitable cause some sort of ruckus. You see, Elijah had a very imaginative imagination. Something many angel’s and demons alike lacked, and this came from her old position of being the angel of children. So, when Elijah sees a cat stuck in a tree this is what follows:
A sudden storm will brew from some direction where there was no storm before. This storm will cause a bolt of lightning to strike the tree, where said tree will then fall. To ensure both the safety of the cat and the human the tree will (conveniently) fall on to a telephone wire which will slow, then finally stop. Allowing the cat to hop down and run into their owners open arms.
It was done with good intentions but resulted in half the street losing power. Head office was not happy.
Yet she was not to know this, as she scrambled to her feet, slipped and elbowed Azec as he tried to push himself off of the floor. “Sorry.” Elijah said, concerned she had damaged his vessel. Azec only waved a hand at her, which she caught and tugged the demon to his feet.
A pointed cough from behind brought their attention to their support worker, who gave them a blank stare of annoyance. Elijah gave her own cough (though this one was from embarrassment) and smoothed out the lily-white dress she had adorned to make an effort. Normally Elijah dressed in more relaxed clothes, jeans that were all the right proportion (this was because Elijah conjured the jeans. Everybody knows normal clothes never fit as perfectly as hers did), white sleeved blouse and (ironically) a black denim jacket with wings embroidered on the back. Opposed to Azec, who liked to wear a black suit. It was nothing like the grey and beige monstrosities the angels were fond of, but it was functional for portraying him as professional. He’d even paired the suit with a deep maroon coloured shirt, just because he enjoyed the colour and it meant he didn’t look like a tall mass of black.
Elijah had even gone the extra mile and given her hair tight, ringlets that jiggled about her head like the tentacles of some mad jelly fish.
Speaking of tentacles.
Slowly, an actual tentacle rose up from the portal on the floor; purplish suckers seeking out Elijah’s foot, which only earned a discreet kick from her. The angel support worker leaned over slightly to see what had caused her movement, but as soon as the slimy appendage had slithered back into the portal, Azec gave a click. Pale blue waves of the angelic portal closed over and Elijah gave a grateful look to Azec. Their supervisor gave a suspicious look to the floor and narrowed his eyes. Elijah gave an innocent smile when the supervisor looked back to her.
“Now that you’re here, here is your new assignment.” The angel passed Azec the file, straightened his grey suite and nodded at them as he took a seat. Elijah and Azec stood there for a few seconds, but the angel had already started his assault on the computer’s keys anew.
Elijah caught Azec’s eye and gave a dramatic eyeroll, Azec smothered a grin as he turned to leave. Elijah trailed behind him, “Think they copped on?” She asked as she kept up with Azec’s long strides, her legs worked twice as hard to make up for the lack of length they possessed.
“Does it matter anymore?” He asked as they reached the literal stairway to heaven. Elijah waved a hand at her clothes, which slowly dissolved into her usual white blouse, denim jacket and jeans.
“Dunno, they might still get mad. Just cause our departments work together doesn’t mean they’d be happy about our friendship.” Elijah ran her hands through her hair, straightening as her hand swept down to the ends of the strands near her elbows. “I mean, I’m assuming your side has a contingency plan.”
“Obviously. Do yours have training days?”
“Obviously.” Elijah repeated, they both smiled at each other, “Every couple of hundred years.” They both sobered descending the stairs, the weight of what would happen if one or both sides decided to start fighting each other again.
Azec stopped when they got to the bottom of the stairs, “I hope we never have to fight.” He said, Elijah hopped down the last two steps and landed next to Azec.
“We wouldn’t. I’d never fight you.” She told him as if it was an undisputed fact, like they had a choice in the matter, “Anyway, who’ve we got this time?”
Azec was grateful for the distraction. He couldn’t be sure that if the time came, they would be able to avoid fighting one another. He looked at the file and gave a hum, “A psychic.”
“Ooooh.” She let out, Azec gave over the file before Elijah could pluck it from his fingers, “Holly Holson. Granddaughter of a witch.” She turned to Azec, “Name sounds familiar.”
Both, angel and demon, had known each other before. Not before the fall, no, but they knew each other before the two sides merged. Elijah, as she was won’t to do in those days, had snuck out from her duties to watch the humans. Earth was relatively knew, though there would be remnants of God’s experiments later (Dinosaurs), there had been a small section of Earth that had begun to take form for the humans to live in.
Eden, at that time, had been nothing more than a small forest, greenery stretched out from where the tree of life sat in the middle of it all, proud and bearing many golden apples. She liked to watch the lower angels as they planted more and more shrubs and colourful plants, the plan was to extend the whole forest out around the world. A mighty fine plan if she had ever seen, she quite enjoyed the colours of the new plants God had created (she was pretty sure they called them flowers).
She had taken to visiting Eden as much as she could, without being caught. She didn’t feel welcomed anyway when she would turn up for her shift of guarding and singing praises in heaven. Elijah wasn’t much liked by the other angels. She’d never really known why, but it might have to do with her curious nature, which meant she would could be easily distracted and, as a result, often found herself in trouble. Maybe that was the reason why. Maybe not, but something was different about her, that meant she never quite…fit.
But here, on what was essentially God’s imagination made real, she felt like she was a part of something. Like she did fit.
Here she could explore without being reprimanded by her superiors or glared at by the other angel’s in her garrison.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in heaven?”
Elijah almost lost her balance on the tree she had climbed, in her search for a better view of the angel’s tending to the grounds. There frowning up at her stood a very tall demon, hands on his hips as if he were telling her off.
Elijah, my believers, had seen this demon before. He hadn’t done anything she deemed evil, (unless you count rearranging the flowers as evil) and, so far as she had seen, had only observed the humans with a sad, wistful smile. Elijah thought he looked rather lonely.
And, she reasoned, if they could become friends them neither of them would be lonely.
This, of course, meant that she had to befriend him. Now it is important to note that at this time Elijah had only been the angel of innocence. This meaning that she had, at the time, been full of naivety and thus befriending a demon did not seem like such a bad idea. Angels were meant to love all creatures of god and Azec was, technically, a creature of god. So, it stood to reason, in her silly and naïve brain, that befriending him would not be an issue.
Elijah hopped down from the tree, a smile lit her face, “This is the first time you have talked to me.” Indeed, it was. All the times Elijah had chattered to the demon, about flowers and the humans mostly, he had never said a word. Instead he had tried his hardest to lose the tiny seraphim amongst the trees and vines.
The demon licked his lips, “Maybe I’m bored.” He replied. Which, my dear believers, was not true, and Elijah somehow knew this. Though it would not have been hard to see through the lie. Elijah had watched the demon and could see how he would start the walk in the direction of the humans, perhaps to talk with them, but would think better of it and flee.
It seemed the loneliness won out, which was why he had started this conversation and because he wondered why a seraph would here in Eden.
Elijah gave him a raised eyebrow, she was not fooled, and the demon sighed, “Being here with no other being to talk to, it’s…”
He gave a nod. “I know how you feel. Up there,” she gestured the startling blue sky, “it’s the same though.” She gave him a shrug, while a look of understanding passed across the demon’s face.
All the talk of loneliness made her slightly sad so, after a minuet of melancholic silence, she grinned up at the demon. “So, you know my name.” She looked up at him expectantly, “What’s yours?”
The demon returned her grin with a reasonable smile (much more sensible than the contortion Elijah’s face had been going through).
“Well, I suppose they call me Azec now.” Azec replied lightly, as if having fallen from grace hadn’t hurt him. As if his heart still didn’t smart from the rejection. As if it didn’t matter.
Elijah just nodded, “Wanna meet the humans?” she hadn’t waited for an answer, but Azec followed her anyway with an eye roll (This is the birth of the eye roll. No, seriously, it was). And that was how these two entities met, in a garden.
Holly Holson was a rather strange young woman. But if you knew who her grandmother was, you would understand why. You see, Holly’s parents had died when she was only five; and this led to Holly living with her grandmother. Grandma Holson Had been Holly’s paternal grandmother and had been closer to Holly and her parents than her maternal grandparents had ever been. You see, Holly’s maternal grandparents had not been happily married, her mother had been an accident that trapped both participants in a mutual hole of unhappiness. This unfortunately, meant that when Holly’s mother had moved out, they saw their parental responsibility over, meaning they would not take in the orphaned girl.
So of course, Grandma Holson had taken the girl willingly. She had opened up her home in rainy Plymouth, where the docks horn sounded without fail at 11:30 and you could always count on the buses to turn up late. She had invited Holly into a house with shelves in the dining room filled with supernatural knick-knacks where a table should be. The living room holding a matching sofa and armchair decked out in a garish floral pattern, a knitted blanket thrown over the armchair as a homely touch. Three bedrooms, with one filled to the brim with books on the occult and gardening.
Holly had grown up in that small house, played in the apple tree’s in the garden and sat in the garden swing chair, as Grandma Holson had patently taught Holly the difference between certain sigils. And even though she knew her grandmother was old with more and more health problems rearing their heads, it was still a shock when she had fallen ill in the winter and passed just as Christmas had been over and done with. Holly liked to think Grandma Holson had hung on just long enough to spend one more Christmas day with her granddaughter.
Holly gave a sigh, placed her cup on the dark blue marble worksurface and lent her elbows on either side of the mug. She remembered the day her grandmother passed. The old woman had been smiling gently at Holly, one wrinkled hand patted at Holly’s in an attempt at comforting, “Don’t be sad, dear,” She smiled weakly, “I’ll be with your grandfather. And you know I’ll always be with you in your heart.” The light in her eyes seemed to dim, and her hand grew lax. “Don’t forget to follow the Angel and demon on your shoulders, dear. I’m so proud of you.”
And she was gone.
Holly gave another sad sigh and tipped the remaining tea down the drain before tying her dark brown hair up in a loose bun. She gave her rounded glasses a light tap, as if reminding herself that they were there, then headed to her room to do some writing on her book. Well, not quite her book. You see, Holly had been reading all the journals her grandmother left her, along with the nice, tidy sum of money tied in with the house, (Holly still has no idea how her grandmother had saved so much money, enough for Holly to live off if she so chose) and compiling a book. She had named it ‘Dorathea Holson’s occult origins and wonders of the world’, in honour of her grandmothers works in the occult and …well the world.
Holly had never met anyone who have travelled around the world more times than her grandmother, something baby Holly had marvelled at and longed for. Ideally now she could go. Leave and have the adventures she had daydreamed about since childhood, but…no she couldn’t. She wouldn’t know where to start, or how to prepare. What if got into a spot of trouble, who would get her out? Holly was never a very outdoorsy child, and thus had no such skills that would help her if she did travel. And besides, she couldn’t go without someone there to help and make sure she didn’t do something wrong or stupid.
She shook her head, as she sat on the small single that was her bed, shaking away all the silly thoughts of exploring. No, she though as she pulled her laptop and her grandmothers journal towards her, she was more suited to retelling other people’s adventures, not her own.
And then, with her rounded face buried in an old leather journal, she returned to writing the legacies of Dorathea Holson.
Sat on her comfortable bed, in her comfortable little house on Victoria road, comfortably being comfortable.
Somewhere in hell however, a lesser sin (known as being-rude-to-a-fast-food-employee. He preferred to be called Ted, though) looked upon the scorched land of anger (the fifth circle of hell) and turned to Mild annoyance.
Mild annoyance was hells replacement for wrath, because wrath (being wrath) decided to be wrathful. And in doing so had directed his anger at a mildly sarcastic cultist. This cultist being an emo 13-year-old, who had (due to his limited funds) used the pentagram on his t-shirt, purchased by any self-respecting emo shop. His intention being that he wanted to be patched straight to Satan, but (like heaven’s postal service) hells phone lines were, how shall I say?
Ah I know, horrible, slow and had an unbearably awful connection on the best of days. This teen’s only goal had been to attempt to contact Satan about the Ouija board he had ordered (had this been successful he would have been directed to H.R -human reaping-) instead he contacted wrath. Wrath took on the corporeal form of a discount Hulk Hogan (a famous wrestler at the time), and not liking the child’s tone strangely freed him… well his head from his body.
Mild annoyance took over said role, that is why when ‘Ted’ turned to him, Mild annoyance was there to see his confused expression. Mild annoyance shuffled closer to ‘Ted’, “What’s got your face like that?” he asked the other. ‘Ted’ pointed one green scaly hand to the river Styx, filled with the bodies of writhing sinners. Mild annoyance screwed up his face (Half of which took on a scaled fish quality, the other more human. But both eyes were the same colour of mould) in the way a human may to try and see further, even though it did nothing for improving eyesight. But back on track, mild annoyance in disbelief and utter shock looked upon the writhing river before him as a fair face arose from the depths, accompanied by an uneasy silence from the damned. As her body separated from the river of souls, she took a step. And hovered over the bodies, not even the soles of her feet touched the river of the damned.
Mild annoyance’s mouth fell open at the site of this pale woman floating. How could she just float? Ted grasped at Mil annoyance’s arm as the woman turned to stare with pitch black eyes (or at least eyes that looked like a vaguely dark room) “fools…” fell from her lips in, not one, but two voices. She continued to the doors leading to the next circle of hell and…she…
“Did she just…”
“Yup.” Ted responded.
“Isn’t that…” Mild annoyance started again.
Because that woman had just pushed the door open. Only a demon could open those doors. Nothing could get through those doors without their say so. Or at least a vague nod: to the person, then the door, which ever demon was close, and finally to no one particular; because the person given access to the door had already gone through, mildly annoyed at the excessive nodding ( Mild annoyance took great pleasure in a job well done).
“Oh, shit.” Both uttered before disappearing in a puff of smoke, they needed to tell the office.