01 | the fall (i)
The golden man looked over his shoulder, a broad smile on his lips. “Beautiful morning, isn’t it, Raphael?”
Since his birth, Lucifer was regarded as a beam of light. Fitting, since his name translated to what the humans called Venus: morning star. Despite being only a few millennia younger than his siblings, what he lacked in experience he made up with hard work and determined spirit. His dream was to be one of the Archangels, like Raphael and the others. Maybe if I ask Father he’ll give me a chance.
The elder angel didn’t smile back. “What has Father told you about coming to the Garden?”
Lucifer stood up. “I just wanted to see the progress.” He looked at the blue sky above them. “The sun feels so nice and the flowers are beautiful.”
“When He wants to enter the Garden, he will decree it so. You know that.” Raphael sighed and moved closer to his youngest brother. “What if the humans saw you?”
Lucifer smiled again. “I’ve been watching them. During the day, they wander more towards the outer Garden and usually stay there until dusk.” He walked around his brother, a finger on his chin. “I haven’t figured out why, though. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll — ”
“There won’t be a tomorrow, Lucifer.”
Lucifer whipped around to face Raphael. His brows were pulled down in confusion. “I’m not disturbing anything! I haven’t been seen by the humans and I haven’t — ”
Raphael held up a hand. “I am only the messenger, brother.” He sighed. “If you keep coming here, someone else that isn’t me will know about it. Be it one of the Cheribum that you haven’t talked into letting you pass or, worse yet, one of the Powers.”
Lucifer shuddered. Of all of the Powers, Iaoel, the latest general, frightened him most. They never seemed to like Lucifer and he couldn’t place why. Though, should Lucifer ask his peers, the soldier didn’t think much of anyone. No, they were loyal to Father and only Him.
When he was still very young, Lucifer fancied the idea that he could be an Authority like Iaoel. He and two of his friends, Douma and Anauel, spoke often of joining and serving Father as warrior angels. For them, it was about honor and duty to the Throne. For Lucifer, it was about being closer to Father.
Raphael’s gaze was tired as he regarded his brother. “Lucifer, you must promise that you’ll stay away from the Garden. Please.”
Lucifer opened his mouth to argue but thought better of it. He gave Raphael a smile and promised he wouldn’t return to the Garden. “I promise, brother. Truly.”
Raphael eyed him, unconvinced. “We shall see.” He put a hand on Lucifer’s shoulder. “You wouldn’t want Father to hear about this.”
Lucifer ducked his head. “No.”
“I’ll give you a few moments to yourself,” Raphael said with a small smile.
Lucifer shook his head. “I don’t need them, thank you. We can go home.” Raphael nodded and spread his wings. Lucifer did the same. He often wondered what the humans would think if they ever got to see him and his wings. Would they marvel at their softness? Gasp when he took flight?
“Lucifer, what are you waiting on!”
He shook himself from his thoughts, his eyes cast skyward. Raphael hovered in the air, waiting. Lucifer silently cursed himself and spread his wings. He pushed himself off of the ground and flew towards his brother. As they flew away, Lucifer stole one last glance at the Garden. The sweet smell of honeysuckle permeated his memory and his chest tightened. It was off limits to him, he knew that. But he had come to adore the little island. As he turned back towards Raphael, he caught something in his peripheral: two figures coming from the outer Garden.
They came back early. I wonder why.
“I don’t understand your fascination with the humans.”
Lucifer called upon his two friends after he and Raphael returned. They were all sat in the Douma and Anauel’s shared room eating lunch.
“Now, now, Douma,” Anauel chided. “We don’t question your hobbies. Leave Lucifer be.”
Lucifer smiled. Anauel was the more gentle between the three of them, always had been. He was the first being Lucifer met when he’d been born. His long, blond hair hung down to his elbows and he had lovely green eyes that comforted Lucifer. His full lips stretched into a smile as he knelt down to Lucifer’s level, dirtying his robes. He remembered thinking how beautiful Anauel was: smooth, porcelain skin and high, sculpted cheekbones. His face was heart shaped and he had dimples. Anauel had outstretched his hand to the new being and they’d been companions since.
Not too long after, Anauel introduced Lucifer to Douma. Where Anauel was warm and gentle, Douma was frank and wise. They had short, curly blond hair and blue-green eyes that were sharper than any Lucifer had ever seen. Like their eyes, their face was sharp and angular, a severe beauty. Douma has a way of speaking that others considered harsh. They didn’t mince words and always spoke the truth, no matter how someone else felt. Lucifer respected them for it.
“I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be curious, Anauel.” Douma ran their hand through their hair, annoyed. “But he isn’t a new being anymore. He knows the rules: the Garden is off limits to all besides the humans and Father himself.”
Anauel eyed Lucifer. “How did you make it past the Cheribum?”
Lucifer blushed. “I snuck in while they weren’t looking.”
Douma gave him a flat look. “They’re always looking, Lucifer. There’s no way you could have snuck past without another of them knowing.” Lucifer cast his gaze to the glass of water in his hands and took a long sip. “Lucifer!”
Lucifer groaned. “All right! I may have…persuaded them to be somewhere else whenever I wanted to visit the Garden.”
Anauel took in a sharp breath. “It’s a sun to use your Heavenly influence on other Heavenly beings! If they remember it was you, Lucifer, you’ll be cast out!”
Lucifer waved him off. “Calm down, Anauel. I didn’t use it extensively. I was only in the Garden for a short time each visit. Barely any influence would stay behind.” He lifted a shoulder and took another sip of water. “It’s fine.”
Douma snorted. “If that’s what you choose to tell yourself.” Anauel threw a pillow at them. “What! Who knows how long his little excursions have been going on! It’s a wonder he hasn’t been cast out already.” They looked to Lucifer. “Lengthy exposure to Heavenly influence has side effects. Everyone knows that.”
Lucifer’s face fell. He looked to Anauel. “Using my influence wouldn’t hurt the Cheribum, would it?”
Anauel shot Douma a dirty glare before taking Lucifer into his arms. He rubbed his back and pressed his face into his curls. “They’re resilient creatures. You needn’t worry about them.”
“Don’t placate him, Anauel!” Douma looked at Lucifer. “Of all of the younger angels, you’ve proven most powerful. Did you know that?’ Lucifer shook his head. They hummed. “There’s a reason the Seven monitor you so much.”
Lucifer furrowed his brows. “What do you mean?”
“Nothing. They mean nothing.” Douma glared at Anauel. “Lucifer, would you excuse us? We need to talk.” Lucifer disentangled himself from Anauel’s arms and stood up. “Come back in a few hours.”
Lucifer looked between his friends. He hated when they argued. Sometimes their fights lasted weeks and they would speak to each other through him. “If you’re fighting over me, don’t. Like Douma said, I’m not a new being anymore. I’m old enough to know the consequences of my actions. I’ve already promised Raphael that I won’t be returning to the Garden.”
“You hear that, Douma? He’s not going back. He’s learned his lesson.”
Douma looked between the Anauel and Lucifer before shaking their head. “If you say so.”
“Are they angry with me?”
Anauel and Lucifer were walking back to Lucifer’s cabin. The atmosphere in Douma and Anauel’s room was heavy with tension. After Lucifer’s declaration, the roommates were in a locked gaze. Lucifer knee better than to get between them during their squabbles. After a few minutes, Anauel declared he was taking Lucifer home. Douma grunted and went to bed.
Anauel sighed. “No, they’re just worried about you. I can’t say that I’m not worried, either, Lucifer.”
Lucifer rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m sorry. You know I don’t mean to worry you.”
“Just because you didn’t intend to do it doesn’t mean you didn’t.” Anauel smiled at him. “Why are you so fascinated with the humans? They do not seem to be anything other than ordinary.”
Lucifer lifted a shoulder. “I can’t say. Maybe I’m fascinated by their normalcy, the way that mundanity excites them. Maybe I want to get closer to them, study them. All of it is curiosity in truth.”
“And just how far are you willing to let that curiosity take you?”
“The thought hadn’t crossed my mind.” Lucifer looked to Anauel. “Humans experience time differently. They are born, they age, they die. That intrigues me.”
“We are born and we can die. Time may not affect us but we do track our respective ages, I suppose.”
“I suppose,” Lucifer acquiesced. “I can’t explain it, Anauel. The humans just pique my interest.” The sun was setting on the horizon and he smiled. “I wonder what the humans do when the sun goes down.”
Anauel turned to him. “I would assume they sleep. Why?” Lucifer stared at his friend for a few moments before Anauel’s eyes widened. “No.”
“No, Lucifer. You promised, Raphael!”
Lucifer clasped his hands together. “Anauel, please. The Cheribum aren’t guarding the path to the Garden and everyone is at dinner. Just for a few minutes!”
Anauel eyed his friend. “You want me to aid you in breaking your promise to one of the Seven?”
Raphael’s warning flashed in Lucifer’s mind’s eye. Guilt sat heavy on his chest. You can’t go back there anymore. He blew his fringe out of his face and smiled at Anauel. “You’re right, I’m sorry. Forget that I said anything.” He walked ahead of Anauel to his cabin door.
“Lucifer, wait!” Anauel called out. “You aren’t upset, are you?”
Lucifer turned to face his friend. “I am. But not with you.” His lips quirked up into a half smile. “Good night, Anauel. We’ll meet again tomorrow.” Lucifer shuffled inside, his face breaking its facade as he heard the door shut.
For the first time in six millennia, Lucifer couldn’t sleep.
He tossed and turned as sleep toyed with him, goading him to give chase and wrestle it into submission. But, alas, he would not be the victor.
He groaned and pushed himself up. Because of Lucifer being so close to Father and the Seven, Lucifer was allowed his own cabin. He was often lonely. Perhaps that’s why he clung to Douma and Anauel. They treated him like family rather than a nuisance, a secret.
Lucifer swing his legs over the bed and noticed something odd. One patch of his skin didn’t not have his Heavenly glow.” Had that always been there? He stretched his leg out, surveying it. His Heavenly glow was even more prominent under the moonlight but not that patch of skin.
“What…?” Lucifer reaches out to the oil lamp beside his bed and the dim glow of the candlelight painted the room. He rubbed at his eyes. Maybe I’m just seeing things. My skin is fine. He raised his leg. There it was: the prominent discoloration that worried him. “Oh, Father,” he cursed. His fingertips glided along the patch. It didn’t feel any feel any different than normal. Just matte compared to the rest of his glowing skin. What do I do?
Lucifer shot out of bed, his pulse racing. He couldn’t tell Raphael lest he wanted Father to know. What if this is was all in his head? He would’ve worried everyone for no reason. He didn’t want to create an even bigger rift between Douma and Anauel. No, he couldn’t tell anyone. Not until he knew what the cause of his discoloration was. So, instead, Lucifer left his room and headed to the one place he’d been pining for. Once he shut the door behind him, he paused. It’s not a problem if I just go there to think, right? I wouldn’t go to the Garden, per se. I would just go towards it. He pulled his lower lip between his teeth. Never before had Lucifer had such a dilemma. He’d always been able to solve his own problems and qualms. Why was this so harrowing for him?
As he mulled over his thoughts, his feet carried him to the Garden gates. Muscle memory knee the dips in the soil beneath his feet to avoid and the trails that would get him to the path quickest. His eyes scanned his surroundings. Crickets and cicadas chirped in the night. Warns winds whistled through the trees. Once he saw the outline of one of the Cheribum, his mouth dried and his pulsed sped up.
The eyes on their wings caught sight of Lucifer. They reminded him of an animal Raphael had shown him once. A peacock was its name. Its feathers had patterns at the tips of them that looked like eyes. Unlike the beautiful blue bird, Cheribum wings’ eyes were much like Lucifer’s: human and alive. All four wings had different colored eyes: the lower left wing’s eyes were hazel, the upper left’s were blue. The lower right wing had light brown eyes and the upper right wing had green eyes. It was said that they were the extra pairs of eyes of the four separate heads of the angel.
The human head raised. A smile stretched across their lips as they outstretched their arms. “Lucifer, my boy! Good evening!” Their other heads, the ox, lion, and the eagle, turned to face him as well.
Lucifer smiled, keeping his focus on the human head. “Good evening, Madan.”
They smiled. “What brings you to the Garden gates at this hour?” The eagle head’s sharp brown eyes bore into Lucifer’s face.
He lifted a shoulder. “I couldn’t sleep and found myself wandering, I suppose.” The animal heads and their respective wings eyed Lucifer suspiciously. When he was younger, he and Douma joked that the eyes could see into your spirit, to its barest essence. Never before had they watched Lucifer so closely. Have they realized I’ve been tricking them?
He blinked. Madan was staring at him, concerned. Lucifer sighed. I’m going to regret this later, I know it. He looked Madan in the eyes, his irises warming as they flowed. “Take a walk, Madan. You’ve been guarding all night. You deserve a break.”
“I’ve been guarding all night. I deserve a break,” they echoed. They lowered their wings and started walking away. Lucifer watched as the angel disappeared beyond the gate before he opened the brass doors. The sweet smell of honeysuckle urged him forward. The trees that lined the path had become more luck since his last visit. Or maybe that’s just how they looked in the darkness.
Lucifer’s veins thrummed. He was excited. He didn’t understand his brother’s warnings. The Garden was beautiful and calming. And why would Father only let the humans reside there? He was sure they were lonely. Or maybe it was just Lucifer. Maybe he was missing something and wanted the humans to be his answer. Lucifer passed his usual part of the Garden and ventured deeper. This was his chance to see the humans up close.
Tall oak trees gave him cover in the darkness. He kept his wings close to his body as he knelt to the ground. He heard flowing water near him. Wet soil permeated his nostrils. This is what nature smelled like. Living in the Kingdom, he didn’t see much in the way of trees and bodies of water. Why would Father keep the angels from this? It was like Lucifer was seeing the world for the first time. All of his senses were heightened and he didn’t want them to come down.
A giggle gave him pause. He leaned into the tree he was hiding behind. He titled his head and took in a sharp breath. There they were! In the moonlight, their dark skin looked iridescent. The man was tall and broad with wild, dark hair. The woman was short and slight. Her skin was the same shade and her hair just as wild and dark. They were beautiful. Lucifer wanted to go up to them, to glide his fingers down the length of their arms. The closer they got, he saw that they were bare skinned. No robes adorned their frames. He wasn’t unfamiliar with the male’s form since he himself shared the same anatomy. But looking at the woman, he realized he’d never seen the female form before. He’d been told about women, of course. Raphael told him the story of how Father had created man and woman from dust and bone. But his imagination differed greatly from the real sight.
Her body had curves that men didn’t. Her hips were wide and shapely. Her breasts weren’t flat like men’s. They looked like pillows that sat on her chest. Lucifer wondered if she would let him sketch her one day. She stopped the man in his tracks, pulling him back to her. She put her hand to his cheek and guided his head towards hers. Lucifer watched on as their lips met. This was kissing but not as he’d known it. He was used to chaste kisses on hands and cheeks, to show respect. This kiss they shared was something he couldn’t place.
Lucifer put his fingers to his own lips. His heart was beating hard, so hard it hurt his ears. His chest was heavy and his breaths came out in pants. He’d never felt like this. And then it hit him: he was feeling their auras, their emotions. This was lust.
He watched as their kisses became sloppy and their limbs twined together. His skin warmed but he couldn’t look away. They were brazen in their coupling. Her heavy breathing desperate and broken. Their lips didn’t leave each other’s as their bodies moved of their own accord. This is what desire looked like. It wasn’t dirty and shameful like Father and Raphael told him. It was passionate and consuming. Beautiful, even.
Lucifer shifted onto his feet and crept away. He stole one glance at the humans before he crept away. Once they were out of his view, he stood to his full height and hurried towards the gate. He unfurled his wings and flew down the path, careful not to rise too much lest someone see him. Once his hands gripped the brass doors, he dropped to his feet. He blew out a breath of relief; Madan hadn’t returned yet.
He leaned up against the gate and chuckled to himself.
Humans sure are exciting.