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To begin this epic story, please begin with War in Heaven and A Dying God.
Book 3: Even Angels Fall
I am dying.
Slowly, steadily, crudely, appallingly.
I don’t recall Death ever being so meticulously punishing.
Even as a human, I found Death to be welcoming if not kind. I was a young man when I met him. My hands and feet bound by woven vines. Mumbling above, a woman held a jagged dagger above my chest staring at the night sky, waiting for just the right moment when the full moon reached its pivotal point. Mercy went on deaf ears. Tears fell down my temples and disappeared in my hair. She paid only attention to her prayers and the crashing waves from the nearby sea.
As she brought down her dagger, I met Death. I spotted him standing in the distance of the shoreline. As the occultist sketched the blade within my chest, down into my gut, I did not cry out or feel the appalling agony.
I maintained my vigilant stare on Death.
A smile stretched on my lips as the woman’s hands dug up into my stomach, tearing apart the folds of my flesh searching for my beating heart.
I was ready to die, I realized. There was nothing left for me to accomplish and I was proud of all that I had done while I lived.
Take me, I thought. I’m happy.
Yet Death is not here now and I have no hope of him coming. I am far from his reach in this isolated chasm.
I fear my thoughts will not be as peaceful as they had been so long ago. I am not ready to die eternally. I was an ignorant Soul then. I didn’t know of the world that lay beyond the human realm but after 10, 572 years, I am not so blind.
When did my thoughts become misconstrued? Shouldn’t I be happy? Shouldn’t I feel complete or accomplished? I have done so much and yet, I strive only to do more. I know I am not done. I know there is a surplus of obligations that need my stalwart support.
My family would claim I am a docile man, never upset or disgruntled. They see me as I desire them too, as a contented Soul with little distress.
But I am plagued by the atrocities of three worlds: Heaven, Earth, and Sheol. It is a balance that must be manipulated and controlled. I alone have the power to do so properly and over the course of my life, I have mitigated the influences of these worlds to keep the scales poised.
Without me, what has it become? What tragedies have occurred in my absence?
I chuckle, a dry and bland mirthless laugh.
When did I become so egotistical?
I was a Newborn once. Like everyone else, I began as a child, unimportant and plainly stupid. I believed in a silly little faith: that every Light is vital and precious.
We all have dreams like that, I believe. Where the world is perfect and we want to be perfect too.
“Tymician.” I hear Lucius’ deep baritone voice vibrate my chest, forcing my attention.
I lift dark green orbs and find the crystal blue glass of his eyes gazing directly back at me. I hang from chains, my arms taut and straight above my head, the shackles clasped around my wrists digging into my skin. My toes barely touch the floor. I wear only tattered shorts on my waist. They are covered in dirt and grime from the lengthy days I have lived imprisoned.
Lucius is before me, sweat drips down his temples, biceps, and pectorals seeping into the waistband of his blood red silk pants that drape down over his feet. His wings stretch wide with every extraction of his arm as he leans back to strike out with a metal studded whip.
The chains shake and clink together and my body quivers as the strap grinds down along my chest and hits the floor with a familiar thud.
I have been a loyal friend and confidant for my entire life. I had been one of the firsts to follow Lucius into exile. Together we abandoned God and created the Realm of Hell. I have served under him dutifully and proudly and I have not regretted a day of it. Lucius is my best friend and I love him as my brother.
I deserve to be on the receiving end of his whip. Against all that I have stood for in the past ten millennia, I have betrayed Lucius. I did so knowingly and willingly and I hold no apology for my actions.
In the beginning of my torture, I wondered the point to this. As an Elder as old as I, I feel no pain and I do not bleed. My wounds heal as quickly as he strikes. There is no reason for this aside from humiliation and to illustrate his own power over me. I have allowed him fourteen sessions of silent torment. I can only assume that it means I have been trapped within the confines of this cell for fourteen days. That is not including the amount of time I spent with the horrific Sins.
When Sloth took me from Alexander’s apartment, I thought my life would be forfeit but they did not take my Soul as much as they desired so. I was simply bait. They waited for Lucius to come and to my astonishment, he arrived. He cares for me enough to risk the weight of his Soul, the unleashing of a Sin and the end of the Sheol Reign to save me.
That is why I stay here in this dungeon, quietly taking each brutal blow of his whip. I betrayed him yet he loves me still. I will do whatever needs to be done, not for his forgiveness, but for his understanding.
“I am sorry, brother, but I will not.”
He snaps the whip once more and it courses down my collarbone over my bare pectoral and my abdomen before slapping against the stone. My skin spits apart, exposes the raw flesh underneath but slowly the skin binds itself back together again, leaving only a thin white line in its wake.
Lucius lets the whip drop from his fingertips.
The Sins took fifty percent of my Light before Lucius arrived. They sucked it slowly and perversely. I was a simple plaything. Sloth and Wrath alone are nothing, they are cockroaches at my feet that are kicked aside and squashed with a thumbprint. When combined with their brothers and sisters at the base of their home, I am the fly, swatted with a simple flick of a hand.
I am starting to weaken. I can feel the pressure of his whip. It doesn’t hurt. Not yet. In time, I will be begging him to end my life. I must not let it get that far. I must reach the man that is my friend and brother. I will find what is left of him.
He flexes his wings, adjusting the bulk of the weight. They get heavy after so much work. Lucius is unlike normal Fallen. He is God’s second child. He feels, he bleeds, he cries, he does not get the reprieve of numbness as we do. He suffers. It is the reason I cherish him. Who else in Hell could handle such pain for this long and still manage to survive it?
“You have denied me that child since the moment she fell.” The feathers fluff and balk. “There are over twenty-five thousand Fallen. I am connected to each one of them. I know them individually, I am with them as they Fall. For most, I recruited them. It is impossible that one has slipped through my fingers.” Lucius turns to bare his back, three sets of wings lay flat down as a waterfall of feathers sways behind him and the tips hit the back of his ankles. “In that restaurant, when she committed the crime of breaking our laws she called upon me, letting me in and I was to meet her Soul for the first time.” He turned his head toward me, strands of his white hair getting in his eye. “Thirteen years old, Tymician. You would have known that. The others would have ignored it or imagined it. But you would have known. You stayed with her because you knew she was different. Why didn’t you come to me?”
I can think of many lies but none that I will tell him.
When I died on Earth, my death was nothing special. It wasn’t sacrilegious or resplendent or meaningful. It was senseless and slightly arrogant. Yet everyone claimed it was glorious. I became part of a pact called the Three Lambs. Ariel, Dane Monte, and I. Ariel and Dane deserved it. It was a mistake for me. Lucius was the only one to agree with me. Truth can be seen as evil depending on the viewer. Truth can cause fear and hate, and many emotions that contented and cheerful Angels do not want to feel. So they chose to deny it.
Lucius and I became brothers that day. I listened to every sermon he preached and valued every word as if they were my own. He would cause riots and protests but he managed to get the populace thinking and caring about the race that suffered below us.
The humans: a race he adored.
I will give him the truth if only because he offered the same to me.
“I was afraid, Lucius.” I manage to get out. “Kyla is special and I did not want to lose her.”
“You had a Soul mate.”
“It is not like that. If you meet her, you will understand. I feel things when I am with her. I feel.” I don’t remember what I felt. It’s been so long since I’ve been with her I can’t seem to recall. “It’s just different. I didn’t want you to take her away.”
Lucius’ wings spread in a rage. He snatches up the whip and squares his feet standing before me. “I have given you so much, Tyimican. I did not ask you to Fall with me. You chose that.”
“I did, Lucius. And I would again.”
“Everything you have asked for, I have freely given it. Nine thousand years and I have never forced you to do anything you repelled against.”
“You haven’t. You have been good to me, Lucius. I was being selfish.”
“Give me this girl, Tymician. Give me this girl or you will never see the light of day.”
I close my eyes and shake my head, “I cannot, Lucius, I am sorry.”
Lucius’ power presses on me and he swings his whip, slashing down upon my face and arm. My eyes widen. I felt just a sliver of pressure.
“Why do you do this!” He hollers so loudly my body vibrates with the deepness of his voice. The weight of his power presses upon my bones and pain comes at me quickly as he tears away my Light bit by bit. He’s killing me slowly, like ripping off a toenail.
Gritting my teeth, I force out, “I can’t let you destroy the world.”
The power shuts off like a sudden switch and my eyes flip up to find Lucius so very calm in front of me with flattened wings. Whatever storm had come through is gone and no damage is left over to show there ever was a tempest to begin with.
My head drops and I pant in an attempt to pacify the ache.
“Come. I want to show you something.” A wave of his hand, he strikes out with the pressure of his Light and cuts my chains in two.
I collapse, my legs useless and my arms, inoperable. I haven’t walked in days. He does not wait and he has little patience for weakness. I must hurry. I struggle to get to my feet, using the wall as my cane. My chains drag behind me. It takes time but I finally make it out the door only to grieve at the sight of steps.
By the time I reach the top, I’m crawling. Humiliation has never been so strongly distilled in me and I’m beginning to get a bit cross with him.
I forget how well Lucius is on torment. I spent such little time in Hell, I’ve overlooked his responsibilities to maintain the punishment of Scarred Souls. I instead concentrated more on the objective we started with when we first arrived here in Sheol.
Lucius’s job was to stop the Darkness from growing and find a way to destroy it.
As I said, we started with such foolish little fantasies. We thought we belonged to a perfect world.
Clinging to the old oak door of the castle, I search for any rescue. If someone were to see me, what would they do? Would they risk their life to save me? Would they expose me to the world that I am alive and find me a rescuer?
But the land is empty and I am alone. Such hope is quickly destroyed.
“Descend, Tymician. To the Third Level.”
Fear hastens me and I descend with open eyes.
I am ill-prepared.
Armies gather in the vast empty lands before his castle.
Hundreds of thousands of demons, beasts, and other unworldly creatures assemble in hoards. From this distance I can make out the clumps of columns as they loiter in encampments, feasting by fires and fist-fitting in crudely cramped arenas.
By limp flags I locate each of their leaders. Fallen sit outside their tents, entertaining themselves with drink and women. I focus on each Fallen, Souls that slipped past the ability of being saved. The corruption of their Soul exposes on the deformity of their features, horns and spikes sticking from their skin, fangs protruding from their mouths and talons growing from their fingernails. Soon they will be only beasts and lose their humanity all together.
Up in the skies, hundreds of Vetalas fly, screeching and squawking, flapping their wings and sitting on the castle’s squires. They prey over the army, waiting for a Fallen to unwittingly leave the camp.
From the looks of the camp, Lucuis has gone to extremes to keep them all occupied but yet on the outskirts the bodies pile high. He is lingering, keeping them back.
He needs Kyla to bring his army to Earth.
I revert back to the privacy of the Second Level, relieved to be alone. I gape openly at my rapidly altering comrade, wondering if I ever knew him truly to begin with. “What are you doing, Lucius? Why are you doing this to God?”
“I’m not doing this to Him, Tymician. I am doing this for Him.” He pauses and struggles with his words, “God is dead, Tymician.” He murmurs so softly I nearly don’t catch it. Lucius turns to me but I don’t understand. I would know if God were dead. Even here in Hell.
“His humans have destroyed His will and His love and I will avenge Him. So you see, I don’t want to die anymore. I won’t destroy the Earth, not now. I have other plans.” His wings flex and he steps out and away from me. “With Kyla’s power I am going to tear a hole in the Dust and unleash Hell upon them. We will take their freewill, rid them of their sovereignty, and enslave them. As their leaders, we will force them on the path Father had intended: Perfect Utopia.”
I stare sightless at the back of his head. Lucius has never understood God. From the time he could think, he always misinterpreted God’s teachings. He tried too hard. He went the wrong way. Now, he isn’t even close to it.
I look down at my hands and wonder if there is blood on them that I don’t know about. I have been supporting Lucius my whole life. I should have been trying to destroy him.
“Tymician. I see it in your eyes. You think I have given in.” I lift my gaze up to him. “But you know me well my brother. You have trusted in me for 9 millennium.”
My sorrow is overtaking me. He knows me so well and I thought I knew him. So why didn’t I see this coming? “You’ve mistaken everything. It isn’t the humans that you should blame. It’s Nature! It’s the Darkness. It’s Fate. They are the enemy! As always, brother, it is them we must destroy!”
“It’s impossible!” He barks viciously, his wings spread, casting a shadow over me. “Without Kyla it is impossible. Give her to me and I can save the human race.”
At moments like this, I wish I could cry. I have lost my best friend, my brother and I can’t even grieve for him. “You...You are the threat. I will not give her to you! I do not trust you. I do not know who you are!”
His wings fold in on themselves and his face shifts back into a stoic and emotionless facade. “One way or another, Kyla will be mine, Tymician, and I will bleed her dry at your feet.”