The Price we Pay

A timid cough caused the man to look up. The manager stood there looking small and frightened. Though the windows were coated with frost, and nobody in the club had yet removed their jackets, the manager was sweating, beads of perspiration running down the elegant face of a man who has known more money than a sheik. Again, a timid throat clearance.


“Sir I am going to have to ask you to leave.”

The man (No, no man could be that big, even though he was only a few inches taller than the manager) stood his red hair waving and his eyes ablaze. “Leave? On what grounds do you presume to ask me to leave?”

The manager, owner of one of the most elite clubs in New York City, trembled. “Ah, well sir, you seem to be rather, uh, intimidating to several of my patrons, and I really must ask you to leave.”
The man’s eyes narrowed, blazed, and he seemed to grow even larger. In a voice like fire he roared, “Such impudence! I will set you afire, and you shall burn.”
A hand, dark as a rain cloud fell upon his (it’s?) shoulder and the (man?) hissed like a coal doused in water and the very air steamed.

“No” spoke a voice like thunder, “you shall not.”
The red man (for while the managers heart refused to believe, his mind told him it must be so, what else could it/he be?) turned, and faced the newcomer who had suddenly appeared behind him.” Ah Batriel, so glad you could join me. I was just about to look for you, when this worm spoke”. He glanced at the manager who wilted under the gaze. The man sneered, and flexed his shoulders, the heat in the room rising suddenly.
Batriel removed his hand, but kept his eyes trained on the sneering man. “I see you still have a bit of trouble keeping your” (here he said a word that was either temperature or temper, and the manager never knew which), eh Xaphan? Now let us sit, and we will then leave this good establishment.” The manager, who up till then had kept rather quiet, chose this moment to remember they were talking about his establishment, and that he was planning to get rid of both of them. “Now see here-“. Both men turned and looked at him. “Choose your next words with care” said Batriel. “Well, ah…just leave. Soon” stuttered the manager. Xaphan’s eyes flared, and he took a step forward, but Batriel’s hand once again fell upon his shoulder.” That we shall my good sir. Now if we may have a moment alone?” The manager, knowing in some part of him that he had lost before he even knew the rules, nodded, and went to the bar. He wouldn’t get up the rest of the night. The murmuring of New York’s wealthy, which had died away, resumed, and the two men were, if not forgotten, ignored.
“Ah Batriel, this is what I mean. This is what we should be united against! These worthless cretins used to shower us with the finest wealth, wine, and women to be found in a thouand leagues! Now, they try to remove us from their clubs.” Batriel merely nodded, and sat on a leather divan, motioning for Xaphan to do the same. “Why did you call me here?” asked Batriel. “Do not pretend you are ignorant Batriel, we both know better. The time has come for us to take our rightful places once again. I have spoken to many others of our kind and they agree. It is time to take what is due.” The dark man did not speak. He seemed to be lost in though. At length, he spoke, and his voice was like the rain on the stones of a thousand citys. “Xaphan, you once called me brother, and I you. For both our sakes, I hope that our bond still stands. It is true, the humans have forgotten us, and we are no longer gods. But remember, that is why we were banished here in the first place. We have all adapted, and we have changed, and are any of us truly willing to fight? The humans have forgotten us, but some things are better forgotten. You and I belong in ages past, not in this world of money and politics. Our time is past.”
Xaphan’s eyes narrowed.”If our time is past, it is only because ones such as you say it so! I offer us one last chance to fight, one last stand, a battle to go down in their history. We will be known, we will be respected, and we will make them fear the unknown once more. And yet you and your ilk argue for peace, and cooperation. The time for that is past, should never have begun! Now, I ask again, will you join me?” Batriel eyes grew dark, and he stood. “I cannot join. They are not all evil, and there is too much good to be lost by their destruction. But know this. If you raise the legion against them, I, and all who will stand with me, will oppose you. I wish it had never come to this, but it has and I must do as I see fit.” Xaphan seemed to glow from within, as if heated by a furnace of rage.”You would choose these apes over your true kin? You would go against your brothers and sisters, only to side with those that cast us down from our seats of power? Hah. Do you still seek redemption? Do you still wish for Him to take you back? Do you forget why we left so long ago? Do you forget what he did to us? To Him?
Batriel seemed to grow darker, and the smell of ozone was in the air. “I will not suffer you to speak ill of His name in here. And as for the other One…He was not the hero you make him out to be. Good bye Xaphan. I would ask you once more to abandon this folly, but I know you will not.” Batriel walked away, and throgh the door. Xaphan sat on the divan, seemingly at war withing himself. When he left, the leather of the seat was black. He never once looked at the manager.

____________________________________________________________________

Two years later, a battle was fought. There had been assassinations, minor power plays, but on that day, in the streets and alleys of New York, the battle was held, and all knew this was the one chance to set things right for themselves, to create a lasting order. The battle was not fought with guns, nor wholly on this world. There was no trumpet blast, no rallying cry, nor valiant charge. T’was fought in the shadows, beneath the earth and with fire and lightning not to be seen by mortals. A man hurrying through the subway late at night saw his shadow leap upon the wall and run down the tunnel, and two small children heard hisses of strange voices beneath their apartment window. The electricty failed most of the night, and phones would not work. A newborn babe suddenly leaped up and shouted words in a language unrecognized by all who heard it, but gave them courage and hope nonetheless. Despite these events, most of New York remanied oblivious to a war that decided their future. A man in clothes of red and orange with eyes that burned raced down an alley, when he pulled up short, and regarded a large puddle in front of him. He laughed and spat into it, a burning gobbet of flame. The water hissed, and a man who smelled of rain and lightning seemed to step through a door, though where it lead and where it came from not many could say. The puddle was gone; though the man bore an angry red burn mark upon his left arm. Aside from this, both were unharmed, and both looked ready to fight. The man with eyes of flame sneered. “So Batriel, I see you are keeping true to your word. Still fighting for these pathetic mortals, too ignorant to even sense the war that wages all around them?” The dark man passed a hand over his arm, and when it passed the burn was gone. “You are truly a fool if you thought I would let your acts go unpunished. You and your followers have murdered innocents. Children. Expectant mothers. All for what? To regain your so called lost glory? I mourn for what you were, and hate what you have become. Yield and I will make it swift.” Xaphan laughed, a mirthless sound, and seemed to grow larger, black flames crawling over his body. “You have betrayed your kin and yearn for these lost lives of men. What are they, but a candle to the raging fires that we are? They are nothing, and I regret nothing.” He drew a long knife, a blade that shimmered like a new forged sword which had not yet been quenched. Batriel grew dark, and lightning arced over his breast. He pulled out a dagger of cold forged silver, and the two clashed. The future of men, decided in a knife fight in a New York alley.
“Surely we are fallen indeed, pitting brother against brother, fighting like two humans. Why can’t you see this is for the better of us all?
Batriel, his face grim and shadowed despite the fire all around, replied in a voice that would have broken a heart made of stone. “If you claim the slaughter of innocents to be for the betterment of all, I would rather remain a fallen in a world of fallen”. Xaphan snarled, and ripped a great cut across Batriel’s face, a wound which smoked in the suddenly humid air. Batriel, silent for his pain, slammed his fist into Xaphan’s chin, and his knife into his heart. Xaphan fell, and in his death, released the fire of a thousand suns. Batriel, smoking, wounded, and bleeding, staggered out of the alley and into the street. People shied away from him, but he cared not. He spoke three words, and they were carried to the ears of all who could hear. “It is done” he said, and so it was. Some still fought, but others laid down arms, and resigned themselves to a world where they were forgotten, lords of an ancient time brought down by the highest of them all. It is said it rained for a week without ending, and when the rain stopped, the blood was gone, as was the ash. And all slept a bit more soundly, and all had a bit less fear of the shadows of the night. But we too have lost a sense of the unknown that came with the danger, and our world is a bit plainer now. And if the rain doesn’t come down quite as hard as it used too, and the fires don’t burn as bright, that is price we must pay.





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Lovestonedloser said...
Jan. 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm
This is really good. I deeply enjoyed reading this :) Comment some of mine please?
 
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