A Dance for the Fallen

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This is the book of the words of righteousness, and of the reprimand of the eternal Watchers in accordance with the command of the Holy Great One in that vision I saw in my sleep. ...

I went and spoke to them all together, and they were all afraid, and fear and trembling seized them. And they asked me to write a petition for them that they might find forgiveness, and to read their petition in the presence of the Lord of Heaven. They had been forbidden to speak (with Him) nor were they to lift up their eyes to Heaven for shame of their sins because they had been condemned.

... I wrote out your petition, and in my vision it appeared that your petition will not be granted to you throughout all the days of eternity, and that judgment has been finally passed on you: Your petition will not be granted. From here on you shall not ascend into Heaven again for all eternity, and you will be bound on earth for all eternity.

--1 Enoch 14:1, 4-5

Although fewer in number, the Sons of Darkness held their ground for many years in Heaven, until they could fight no longer. They might have won, had there not been a force among the Sons of Light that rendered continued battle against them impossible.

All were destroyed, their spirits cast down to Earth, where they would dwell forevermore. The only exception was made for Sariel, who was the Angel of Death, and the Creator decreed that he was the only one who would be allowed to hold that office.

Following their loss, the Sons of Darkness were branded by the terms their enemies had for them. These were the names the Sons of Light bestowed upon the fallen generals:

Haniel was called Hanael.
Remiel was called Semyaza.
Ertael was called Arathak.
Ariel was called Asasel.
Amariel was called Armers.
Rakeial was called Arakiba.
Daniel was called Danel.
Kokabiel was called Kokabel.
Ramiel was called Ramuel.
Araciel was called Baraqel.
Hermaniel was called Harearos.
Hatriael was called Kasdeya.
Ezekiel was called Azkeel.
Sathiael was called Thausael.
Yehadiel was called Jephat.
Touriel was called Surya.
Jumiel was called Jomjael.
Tamaiel was called Tamael.
Kesabiel was called Kasbel.
Sariel was called Azrael.

The final blow had been struck in Heaven, the angelic body of every Son of Darkness rendered uninhabitable. Michael could feel the disembodied spirits of nearly two hundred enemy soldiers still circling Eridu, left without flesh, waiting for their “queen” to awake. Michael wanted to ask Yahweh to smite her in her sleep; unfortunately, even this fragment of their Father had inexplicable affection for the traitor, so Michael was forced to do this task himself.

He endured the injustice of having to possess a human body while on earth, his own decomposing deep beneath the soil. Two of his trusted generals had taken the body of this man’s brothers to accompany him to the tower that had once been his home. He loathed the very smell of this place now, reminding him of the days when he had let mankind near enough to touch him.

“She’ll be at the top of the tower. It’s the easiest place to protect,” he said to his men. “Kill any who oppose you. When we kill her, their deaths will be permanent.”

They went ahead of him, never defying his instructions. They found three of her generals guarding the stairway, the healer Ramuel, the airman Thausael, and Jephat of the navy--hardly a challenge. Michael let his men dispatch them, saving his own sword for the true traitors waiting at the top of the staircase.

Michael cursed when he heard the first of his soldiers fall. He rushed up the rest of the stairway, finding Hanael’s leader of the army standing over the bloody heap that had been his general.

“I never would have thought you’d adapt to killing, Semyaza,” Michael said.

“I preferred Remiel,” the commander said--always relaxed, always smiling. “But as far as menacing, adversarial-sounding names go, I can adjust to it.”

“Let me pass. You have lost.”

“We’ve lost Heaven. You sent us down to Earth, so if you want to control it as well, you’re going to go about it the old fashioned way. Just how fast are you, sharing space with a human soul?”

“For one who loves humans so dearly, you don’t hesitate much to kill one.”

“The moment that man let an angel borrow his meat he became my enemy. I have no qualms about killing an enemy.”

“You still claim to serve our Father, after all you have done?”

“Clearly the irony of that sentence is lost on you, so for your sake, consider me speechless.”

Semyaza was a worthy opponent. He wielded the sword with agility of a smaller man, while his cunningly detached manner made his movements unpredictable. Michael took a wound before he managed to gut him. As Michael clutched at his sliced bicep, Semyaza died with a grin.

Michael kicked open the doors, his remaining general at his side. He did not expect to see Hanael’s body on the stone altar that had held Saraquel, unmoved since that fateful day. Her unanimated form was as perfect as Michael remembered: finely shaped thighs and breasts embraced by a sheer sheet that stretched all the way over the crown of her head, only the ends of golden waves tresses as they draped long over the sides of the platform. He thought about violating that body before it was destroyed, claiming it as the spoils of victory. It was only when he noticed Asasel standing beside her, drawing his weapon, that he was able to quell this distasteful instinct.

“You steal human bodies to violate the Earth?” Asasel asked. “You stoop too low, Brother.”

“Stand aside,” Michael commanded. “Allow me to execute the temptress and your life will be spared.”

“I will not allow you to hurt her,” he said.

“It is only for memory of the days we shared in Eridu that my patience lingers. You were a good servant of Heaven, as Uriel--you may have that name again, if only you would repent of your selfish ways and surrender her.”

“You call me Asasel as her general, and with that name I remain gladly in her service. It is you who does not deserve what you are called. ‘Who is like God’--what shame you should feel.”

Michael was growing angry.

“You judge me, you who chose her side only to protect your human whore, a human whore that you were too distracted to defend properly. We have already found Anatu, living as ‘Ishtar,’ and the humans in the tribe have been made aware of her true nature. She will be stoned for her wickedness this very night, too far away for you to reach her. She will not live to bear whatever abomination she carries.”

Hearing this, Asasel was felled. He took a knee, supported by his sword, his dark face sickly pale. Michael approached him, his own weapon drawn.

“As for you--if you insist on protecting Hanael, you will endure punishment far more severe than any of your brothers’. Your consciousness will be cast into a dark pit of my own creation, to be consumed by the darkness of Chaos like ravens picking through a corpse, reassembled nightly only to be ripped apart again.”

To Michael’s distaste, Asasel rose again to his feet.

“Threaten me with your Chaos, or even the hand of your false Father. I will not be shaken. What happens to me is meaningless, now. I promised Hanael you would not have her as I lived; if I cannot protect my Anatu, then I must at least protect our queen.”

“Then die as you lived: a fool.”

Although wounded, Michael proved the superior warrior. Asasel succumbed to his blade, stabbed through the back as he had stabbed loyal Raguel (now Gabriel, Michael reminded himself as he cleaned his blade, though even he thought the reclaimed name suited him ill). His general, who had allowed him to decide the battle alone, now readied his weapon.

“Shall I guard the door, Commander?” he asked.

“Yes. We do not know how many more Hanael has already given flesh.”

“You are wise, Commander.”

He went to the door. Michael was free to approach Hanael, the witch who had destroyed their peace, and give her the punishment she deserved.

Michael cast off the sheet, revealing her nakedness. The uninhabited bodies were kept without clothing so that cloth would not inhibit the frequency a displaced soul cast to reconnect with the vessel. Again his mind turned to indecent thoughts, no doubt brought about by the human brain he controlled--the disgusting creature their Father favored, Michael had never been more certain of their depravity. He was stronger than these urges, which whispered for him to touch her, to feel every inch of that smooth skin while it was still warm, to feel the ridges between her ribs and the layer of fat on her hips, to squeeze her buttocks and taste those red lips. That voice was loud, but his hatred for it was louder.

He would cut off her head, bury it separate from her body in a steel case, where no one would find it. Not even her powers would be able to restore her form from the intangible realm. She would be trapped here with the rest of them, powerless as Yahweh conquered mankind. They would grovel at the might of their Creator, and order would be restored. Michael raised his sword, aligning it with her tender neck.

The sword would never fall. It was flung out of his grip across the room by an unseen force, Michael flung the other direction by a flat hand against his chest. Standing over Hanael was an angel Michael barely recognized: white-haired and red-eyed, tall and broad-chested, the General of Darkness that commanded the spies, Sariel. He had no Earthly form--his body glowed painfully against Michael’s human vision because of it--yet was somehow able to touch flesh, regardless.

“How?” Michael spat, forced to grip the stone wall to regain his footing. He cursed, feeling human bones broken by the impact.

As if I’d tell you.

Michael saw then why Sariel had appeared: the flickering form in Sariel’s arms, the disembodied soul of Hanael, still convulsing with pain from its heavenly wounds. Sariel held it tightly, as if to comfort her. He meant to return her to her body.

“Release her,” Michael warned, “or there will be a place in the pit for you as well.”

Fuck off.

A beam of energy forced Michael against the wall again, like lightning to his core. He had thought only Yahweh wielded such power on Earth. Michael choked with pain, blinded by rage.

“Who are you?” he demanded.

As Sariel smirked, Michael thought he saw horns on his brow.

Another bolt of energy slapped him against the wall, his general felled by the same wave. Both human bodies succumbed to the shock--the Sons of Light were forced to escape to Heaven.

Sariel wasted no time in fulfilling his purpose. Careful with Hanael’s essence, feeling its suffering, he aligned it with her flesh. He held her cheek, guiding her down into its solid form, until the last of her light was taken in by its warmth. He whispered gently to her, hoping she might hear as she awoke.

You’re safe, now.

When her chest rose with breath, when her heart began to beat again, Sariel felt relief. He wanted to remain with her there, holding her hand, watching over her until she finally opened her eyes. He wanted to see her become Earth’s queen once more.

Michael had broken her wings, in Heaven. Even if she one day returned there, she would never fly again. How he mourned for that. He would make Michael pay, for that. But now was not the time. His own body of flesh needed to be made, and their Father had instructed him to return immediately to His side to begin the process. Slowly, he released her hand.

Until next time, he said.

Although she had been cast out of Heaven, he would make Earth her paradise. As long as he was with her, they would be whole.

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