6.4 - THE CRIMSON FLOW
Cain stood, limp, ruined. A carousel of memories spun, all featuring Melantha’s beautiful face. He remembered holding her, kissing her, loving her in the only way he could and always fearing it would never be enough. Her reassurances and tender words echoed in his mind as did the look of contentment on her face as she slumbered in his arms.
But, over time, her altered self became too much for her to bear. The necessary sustenance was repugnant, she could not bring herself to kill no matter how hungry she was. She kept trying to eat food the humans enjoyed, just as she had done when she was untainted, but her body couldn’t absorb it any longer.
He watched, helpless, ridden with guilt as gradually she withered before his eyes. He tried to feed her, but she even refused his blood, his life-source. She died in his arms, a mere shell of the olive-skinned beauty she once was. And even at the end, she whispered her love for him. She would always remain beautiful in his eyes. But now...
Had it all been a lie? Were her words manufactured? Was her love just a fabrication of a bitter and twisted angel? Surely not! Yet...
Try as he did, he could not stop the crimson flow. The moon reflected in watery tracks as they traced his cheeks, his sorrow rising from the depths of his soul and beyond.
Stricken, wrought with a pain he never thought he would experience so intensely again, he felt - lost. He thought it was perhaps as close to an agonising death as it could possibly be. His breath hitched and he mumbled, incoherent.
“What was that?” Xaphan taunted as he approached Cain. The angel could not hide the mockery in his voice. Cain lowered his head refusing to engage with him. Xaphan was not done with his goading, however. “Painful when you find out the one you care for never felt the same way, isn’t it?”
Cain shifted, staring at the heather poking up through the broken path as it shuddered in the wind. He was reeling, his mind tumbling and twisting in a spinning vortex. The only thing which had once brought him both immeasurable joy followed by crippling heartbreak was now under threat of being erased - nullified, invalidated. And these vile creatures, revoked by God himself and ejected from Heaven had been the ones to toy with him, interfere with his penance and rob him of the one blessing he’d found in his miserable existence.
He stood, arms loose by his side, fingers flexing. The burn he felt was consuming him from within, but, he could not allow this to defeat him. Not now. He would draw on its fire and rise from the ashes. He had other things to consider.
The former Mad Hatter continued to mock him, laughing, prodding, making comments to cut deeper.
“Stop it, Xaphan,” Zepar said, her voice crestfallen.
Cain glanced up. Afflicted though he was by her recent revelation he was confused by her apparent dysphoria.
Xaphan seemed more irritated by it. “Why do you feel such pity for it!” he growled, pointing at Cain. “It should be legion by now! Even your attempt at getting it to breed failed! The bitch went mad.” He then turned to the tall seraph and flashed a heated stare at him. “It was as useless as your attempts at getting the things to procreate. We should be rid of them all.”
The mocha-skinned angel growled, wings unfurling, shuddering. Was it effrontery? Rage? The animosity between celestial ranks was boosting Cain’s reserve, bringing back his purpose. Another emotion entered the mix too. One which had to be managed carefully lest it resulted in disaster. Hate. He continued to observe through windswept hair but kept his silence.
“Stop it!” the female hissed again. “This is not like you.”
Xaphan seemed to have an agenda. “Perhaps you do not know me as well as you think, Zepar.”
The female angel flinched, but the blue fire had returned to her eyes. Cain slowly straightened, intrigued.
Xaphan continued. “Lahash made a valid point indeed! Why are you so damn protective of this miserable wretch? Is it to please daddy?”
“Enough!” Beelzebub boomed. “Get over it, Xaphan. Deal with your disappointment later. This is not the time!”
“Disappointment?” The incensed angel spun to face his comrade. “You think I’m disappointed?” He strode over to Beelzebub, eyes burning, wings snapping open. “She favours the biggest whore that ever lived and he’s one of us!” He stomped off, angry, bitter and then spun round to face the tall green-eyed seraph again. “I am not disappointed. I am repulsed. Samael has fucked his way through history, from beautiful virgins to lonely wives, on to women with power and influence. His seed walks this earth amongst the very scum we loathe and are trying to destroy! Yet she ...” he said, pointing to the Zepar. “She favours him over me?”
“Xaphan, that’s not...” Zepar started, but he silenced her with a glare.
“You should have let my flames consume me when we plummeted! This continuing war is tiresome enough without having to contend with babysitting that one and dealing with the countless other failures which spring from Samael’s loins.”
Both Beelzebub and Zepar turned to Xaphan, outrage building between them, angry words firing back and forth.
Somewhere in Cain’s tortured mind, Xaphan’s veiled remark took root. A train of thought he did not, could not entertain tried frantically to fight it’s way forward for consideration. Nevertheless, the implication was planted, offence caused. His eyes once more flooded crimson black, his skin tightened as the surface became a network of thread veins bleeding from his eyes. A torrent of power surged, presenting something anew taking hold of him.
He was just a blur as he rushed Xaphan. The angel had no time to react, forced backwards through the air and slammed over a low broken wall. One wing flapped frantically, the other trapped behind his back against the old stone and sharp bricks.
Cain was crouched over him, articulated talons pressing Xaphan’s forehead back, exposing his throat. With his weight pinning the rest of the angel’s body down his other hand ripped through the erratic wing shredding it from his skin. Xaphan roared in pain but the speed with which Cain had attacked rendered him unable to counter. A sickening crack sounded and he was snapped like a twig over the wall. Aware the other two would attack in a second, Cain moved in and dislocating his jaw he quickly tore out Xaphan’s throat, near decapitating him in the process. The angel’s body shuddered in its death throes, then with eyes wide, their fire dwindling, he became motionless, limp; draped back over the wall. No more.
Still crouched atop the dead seraph, Cain spun round, ready to deflect the other two. Zepar’s face was a portrait of shock, Beelzebub’s; disbelief.
Then with a snarl, the dark angel attacked.