6.6 - RIVQAH
Although they were angelic in appearance, the Fallen had become rank creatures, tainted by their hatred and envy of Mankind. Their ‘mission’ as it were, had become cancerous, a deep embedded rot having resulted from their unrelenting grudge against God. Cain could almost ‘taste’ the decay emanating from each and every one he’d encountered. And the one in the cellar was foul beyond words.
He landed quietly in a crouch on the dusty floor, his face barely skimming the splintered wood protruding from the nosings. The steps had been practically annihilated by the individual who had plummeted through the doorway just moments before.
A few candles were still lit near the back of the room, affording a flickering golden glow. The shadows outwith were inky black, like harbingers concealing something darker, nefarious, unscrupulous.
With heightened senses, it wasn’t hard for Cain to locate the intruder. The angel leaned against the shelving where Cain had told Becky to stay hidden. Unfortunately, the individual had now found her.
Cain straightened, careful of the jagged edges from the ruined steps and moved quietly further into the room. He realised Becky wouldn’t be able to see him clearly in the murk; no doubt she was cursing him now for leaving her - things had turned out just as she’d predicted. He caught her terrified expression albeit in profile.
With an effort he made his ocular density recede, returning his eyes to their natural brown. He was willing her to look in his direction, wanting her to find solace, reassurance, faith - in him if nothing else. Her attention, however, was held to ransom by the tall, winged creature standing in front of her. Cain could hear the rumblings of mocking laughter in the angel’s chest.
“Well, what do we have here?” the angel said as he plucked at a lock of Becky’s hair resting on her shoulder.
She shrank back and hissed a retort. “Don’t touch me!” She reached for an implement on one of the shelves and held it out before her, defensive.
“Brave little thing, aren’t you?” He guffawed. “Samael could have fun with you, I’m sure.” He inched closer, forcing her against the wall. “Then again - so could I.”
Cain growled in the shadows.
The angel looked askance, a derisive smile curving his lips. “Playing the hero now are we, little bloodsucker?”
“Leave her be!” Cain snarled. “She is not why you’re here. Becky, come to me!”
The angel, smug, traced a finger over her cheek, rooting her to the spot. “Becky, is it? Do you know what the full name, Rebecca, actually means?”
Riveted by his question, she could only shake her head.
“Rivqah in Hebrew, it is derived from a verb that means to be tied up...” He sniggered. “Or beautifully ensnaring at least. But, it also means soil." He laughed out loud and nodded in Cain’s direction. “Probably why our friend back there likes you. He tilled the land once upon a time, did you know? Quite good from what I remember, but... he failed to please the Big Man.”
“Becky!” Cain’s voice was tight, restrained. He moved forward, the faint glow from the candles just bringing him into her view. Her eyes flitted to him, relief swimming in her irises.
“I am Lahash, by the way,” the angel continued, leaning towards her, unfazed by Cain’s agitation. “Later then, perhaps. Becky," he whispered.
She gulped but showed a resilience in her response. “Not in a million lifetimes,” she breathed before slipping past him and in behind Cain. They stepped back towards the candlelight, Cain stretching out his arm, protective, shielding her from the angel.
Lahash seemed unperturbed, assured, arrogant. He too moved into the light, his seraph form dappled by the flickering candles. His wings, although folded back, were enormous, the primary feathers trailing the dusty floor and leaving tracks as he stepped forward.
“Outside!” Cain challenged. Once more his eyes changed to crimson and black, dangerous, threatening.
Lahash looked around, taking in the dimly lit surroundings. “Bit of a fixer-upper, Cain. Perhaps a fight down here would be a benefit. It could do with demolishing.”
"Outside!” Cain repeated.
A sneer and a nod were all Lahash afforded him before he made his way to the broken stairs.
Cain started to follow, but he felt two hands grab his arm. He turned and saw the pleading in Becky’s eyes. The sight almost caused him to fold. It was a look he had seen once before, a very long time ago.
“Don’t leave me here,” she said, her voice hoarse, tinged with fear.
“It is no safer out there,” he replied, fighting to keep a long lost image at bay. He watched the angel’s back receding before turning to face her again. “And I don’t want you to see what is about to happen.” He clasped his hand over her fingers.
She clung to him even tighter. “I’m not asking, I’m telling you.”
He stared at her for what seemed an inordinately long time but it could only have been seconds. In those moments he was transported back to a time when still not fully altered to his current state, he’d clung perilously to some of the basic human senses, such as taste and smell.
A crop of small white buildings under a setting sun came into focus and standing in a doorway he saw a raven-haired beauty with olive skin smiling at him. A breeze played with her hair, its scent - cinnamon and rose - wafting to him, inviting.
His heart slumped; her scent was but a distant memory. How desperately he had tried to hang on to it, but all that remained were the names of those fragrances she favoured. Another pang hit for he’d now learned she had been coerced into loving him. The conflict was too great - he’d lost something which he’d never really had and yet, the love he’d felt was still very real.
Fingers pinched his arm and brought him back to the present. Becky looked at him, determined for all she was clearly frightened. He shook his head, dispersing the memory; this was not the time, nor the place.
Lahash had already ascended and was no doubt waiting for them to join him. With a reluctant nod, Cain ran his arm around Becky’s waist and pulled her towards the doorway. He sensed the angel a good few feet away and so clasping her close, he safely exited the cellar in a single leap.
He heard her gasp as they touched the ground. The carnage he’d left, broken, among the heather and ruins, was illuminated by the moon; he had not thought to warn her. But it was too late now. “Do you want to go back down below?” he asked.
“N - no!” She trembled, wide-eyed.
“Very well, but there will be more bloodshed before this night is over.”
She grinned nervously as she eyed Lahash inspecting the bodies of his comrades. “Just don’t let it be yours.”
Cain stared at her. He could not fathom this woman at all. She carried a deep-rooted misery yet she managed to find a mote of humour in what could only be considered a bizarre and utterly unbelievable predicament in the mortal world. She was helpless and caught in the middle of a battle of monsters.
“I’m impressed you bested the Prince of Demons,” Lahash voiced. Cain snapped round to face the angel. He tensed, ready. Lahash smirked. “But, they do say, the bigger they are the bigger they fall.”
“In that case, you should be easier,” Cain replied.
An eerie ambience fell over the moors, clouds scuttled across the moon then the wind dropped and everything stilled.
“What’s happening?” Becky asked breathlessly. Cain did not respond, but he too pondered the change. A sudden flash of lightning showcased the moors and its macabre collection of angelic body parts. Next, the timpani began.
Cain heard Becky squeal but he did not move his gaze from Lahash. He could not afford to take his eyes off this adversary now.
The angel unfurled his wings and they opened with an audible snap as the thunder died in a low rumble. Another enormous flash burst overhead. Then the two enemies charged each other.