2.2 - THE VERDICT
Fiery eyes scanned the scene of slaughter near the lighthouse. It seemed God’s death-bringer was becoming a tad careless in his dining habits. He had left carcasses lying around, albeit a secluded area at this hour. Very uncharacteristic indeed.
With a heavy sigh, three husks were cast into the sea off the East Pier with nothing more than a flick of the wrist. Ensuring no stray revellers were in the vicinity, another quick hand gesture set the tell-tale pools of blood aflame. Blue fire purified the walkway, removing all residue before being snuffed out like a candle starved of oxygen.
“What makes you be so defiant, little one?” mused the leather-clad individual as she stared at the one-time humans still floating on the water’s surface. Eventually, they sank, a cluster of small bubbles being their only markers; they, too, soon vanishing with an inaudible pop.
A heavy thud sounded behind her. Slowly she turned.
A man with short blond hair and dressed in a chic well-tailored suit, of all things, stood staring at her, a wide grin on his face.
The woman looked skyward, searching.
“The others are on their way,” the man assured; a hint of suppressed mockery in his voice.
She turned her gaze to him, her eyes rippling with small blue flames. “Always first to arrive, aren’t you?”
The man smirked. “Not quite, my sweet little Zepar, you have bested me yet again.”
The woman turned away, facing the sea once more. “That is a mere necessity.”
The man scoffed. “Art thou afraid thy shalt find the Offender first?”
Zepar twisted her body to look askance, her eyes burning. “Stay your archaic tongue, Lahash,” she said with a sneer. “And stop calling him the Offender! He was engineered.”
A low chuckle emanated from the man and he crossed over to where she stood, staring out to sea. Her serene features were softly tinted by the fuchsia streak which bled across the horizon. “I apologise. But your ‘wish’ for him has still led to nothing. His time is coming...”
The sound of beating wings was a welcome distraction from Lahash’s tormenting words. Zepar turned quickly and stepped away to meet the others.
A man in the garb of the Mad Hatter stepped forward, his opalescent eyes wide. “Why, Zepar! You have deprived me of my duty,” he said, looking at the slightly darkened patch where she had rid the pier of evidence but moments before.
“Your tardiness forced my hand, Xaphan. I knew you would be joining the festivities somehow,” she replied, her blue eyes raking over his costume with a mote of humour. The Mad Hatter laughed.
Two more individuals joined the group, both male. One tall, well-built, with hair as black as night which brushed his shoulders; his skin dark, swarthy. The other was of shorter stature, crooked actually, and bald as a coot.
“Beelzebub. Apollyon,” Zepar greeted respectively.
“Greetings,” the angel crowned the Prince of Demons answered. “I take it our little bloodsucker is on another reckless mission?”
"Cain...” she emphasised, “...has been a little haphazard, yes.”
“Oh, really?” Apollyon shuffled over, his back becoming more crooked with each step. “Why is it you are so lenient with him all the time?”
He inspected the area of stone which had been purified, sniffing the air, with one eye on the horizon. “He should have left me to do the dirty work. Enrolling a talking monkey was folly,” he muttered under his breath so the others didn’t hear.
“It is just her nature,” Lahash responded to the angel of death’s original question. “She makes women fall in love with men. She’s always looking for the ‘happy’ ending.”
“Well, that failed!” Apollyon mumbled to himself as he pushed back between the squabbling celestials.
Zepar glared at Lahash. “Had you not interfered all those millennia ago...” she hissed.
“Oh, come now!” Lahash held up his hands in surrender. “It was our General who carved Cain’s fate, not I.”
“But it was you who set things in motion!” Zepar spat.
“Talking of which,” Beelzebub injected a moment or two late, “where is our esteemed leader?”
Zepar’s eyes still blazed in Lahash’s direction but she answered regardless. “He is still trying to locate Cain.”
Xaphan, the Mad Hatter then spoke up. “You would think by now, he would be able to trace him much easier. It has been countless lifetimes, after all.”
“Yes, but Cain keeps evolving!” Zepar explained.
“As do we,” Beelzebub added.
“And the General’s eye keeps roaming elsewhere,” Lahash smirked.
Xaphon cleared his throat at the slight afforded by the deceiver. “Yet, from what we can ascertain, Cain is holding on to some of his human traits. How I ask you? Why he does not just do what his instinct demands of him?”
“Agreed. Then it is time,” Beelzebub said. “Only we can intervene and this has gone on long enough.”
“You think?” Apollyon grunted.
“Granted he does not entirely march to our song, but he is a puppet, a tool who still, after all this time strives to do what God demands of him.”
“Does not march entirely to our song?” Lashar guffawed. “He dances to his own damn orchestra, Zepar!”
“Actually, it’s God’s orchestra.”
“Oh shut up, Apollyon!” Zepar shouted.
Beelzebub’s voice boomed. “The fact of the matter is, we do not need Cain! The plan has fallen through as surely as we plummeted down here. Let’s just do what needs done and to hell with...”
“And just what is it you intend to do?” A deep and authoritative voice sounded from next to the lighthouse door. The others had not noticed the arrival of their General amid their bickering. The silence which followed was deafening.
Auburn hair caught the first flare of dawn as the angel Samael joined his troop of Fallen. He eyed them all, his gaze lingering on Beelzebub. He crossed in front of Zepar, his fingers traced her jawline, tender. A smile, concealing a memory, played softly on his lips.
He then stood directly in front of his fellow angels with hands clasped behind his back. All eyes were upon him. A charge hovered in the air, an uncertainty of what the General would make of their impromptu thinking.
The sun was on the rise and as it filtered over the sea towards land, Samael voiced his response. “I know you wish for Cain to be erased.”
Some eyes lowered, a sign of humiliation and dread that Samael knew full well the thoughts which crossed their minds.
“You are quite right, he has not brought forth the results we had wished for. He is a weapon of God, yes, and as such he has a habit of killing our creations. However...” he continued, circling the group of Fallen. “...we have to carry on with our work. We must debase God’s pathetic little pets before his very eyes and if that means we continue creating megalomaniacs, placing them in positions of power until they finally destroy each other, then so be it!”
He halted. With his voice low and threatening, he delivered his verdict. “But, if any of you so much as harm a hair on my son’s head, I will tear you all from limb to limb. Do I make myself clear?”