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Of Heaven and Hell
Her sword plunged into the chest of the woman she battled. The angel screamed, clawing at her breastplate. She fell to her knees and exploded into light. The white brightness died slowly, shimmering in the night. Lilium pulled her sword out of the darkness and brought the blade to her knee. She wiped the silver blood of the angel on her blackened skirt. She stared around the desert, the sand blue under the night sky. Shrubs grew in lonely dark patches, outcasts of the thriving forest to her right. The night rang with distant screams, rank with the stench of blood and death. Although creatures battled near, everything was far. Sound echoed through long tunnels to her pointed ears, and everything was hazy around the edges. Lilium was at peace in battle, and this was the type of moment she cherished, one of victory and finality.
Lilium whirled around, pulled out of her trance. Lilith was screaming, staring wildly at her daughter. Behind her mother, Lilium saw at least half an army of angels running after them. The two demons took off at the same time, sprinting at inhuman speed. They were running for the forest, the only means of cover and protection. Their clawed feet tossed up sand behind them, pools of lava-like blood dribbled into the ground from the rivulet cracks in their flesh. They were closing in on the outer trees that ebbed into the sand when another angel jumped down from seemingly nowhere in front of them. Lilith jumped onto him and shouted for her daughter to leave. Lilium continued to run for the forest and broke through the first of the branches. She was barely two minutes in when she heard the unmistakeable sound of a demon’s scream.
Lilium stopped, waiting for the returning yelp of the angel. But there was only silence, the deafening emptiness that follows death. Through the trees and the tunnel, Lilium could see the black flame of a demon’s death burning before the glowing silver body of her enemy. A trail of blood leaked down her cheek. She wiped it away, angry at her weakness, but startled at her affection. She couldn’t remember the last time she cried, let alone the last time she felt anything other than hate and anger.
Knowing better than to stay so close to the angels, Lilium ran off again. She created a twisting trail, doubling back and making new ones that led off to nowhere. The angels would have a hell of a time finding her, she hoped. The trees whipped at her face and chest, but she ploughed through nonetheless. Birds flew out of their nests, critters screeched out of her way, and carnivorous beasts shied away from her path. The branches that edged the tunnel she created burned and crackled, little torches in the dark forest. Damn Hell Fire, Lilium cursed, scared that her confusing trail would do nothing with her retched blood burning the tips of the trees. This thought sped her up like dogs at her heels.
She ran and ran for what seemed like hours then stopped to listen for any followers. All was silent but for the sound of animals. Lilium started again at a slow pace. She stopped circling her trail, certain she was safe. A few minutes passed when she saw there was a clearing just through the trees ahead. There was grass, ponds, and rocks. Carefully, in case there was anyone resting within the glade, Lilium pressed up silently against the gnarled trees. She scanned the area with sharp, evolved eyes. She determined there was no one and was about to step onto the grass when she saw movement by one of the larger ponds. Squinting in the dark through the branches, she made out the shape of a man. Tall. Slim. Strong. Winged.
The angel knelt at one of the pond on the other end of the sprawling clearing. He dunked his hands in and cupped the water to his face. He sipped and repeated his rather useless endeavour. Frowning, he bent his face to it and lapped at the water with the dignity of pig, thought Lilium. She stayed hidden within the wild trees, nothing more than a shadow; if he looked directly at her, he wouldn’t even know she was there. However, he did not even notice there was a presence. He stood and walked over to a large rock and perched on top of it. We’re in the middle of the Apocalypse, and he’s resting?! Pathetic scum, lazy and insolent angles, she raged in disbelief. She’d been running for a whole night and here was this pompous angel resting, with his guard completely down.
Her mother’s voice crept into her mind like rotting ivy. You could kill him now, another trophy for us. You’d win, too. Look, he’s removing his armour. He’ll be completely off guard, surprised ... do it ... do it ... do it, the voice echoed off. In the name of her mother, she would have. Lilium, though, was above such unfair tactics, and resented unfair combat. For she loved the fight, enjoyed the adrenaline. This alone made her a superior creature compared to her fellow demons. They enjoyed the blood, were blinded with lust. But not her. No, she enjoyed the means of killing, not the actual act. Although, one less angel was always beneficial to her ruler’s campaign. She continued to watch the angel until she knew this wasn’t an act of feigning ignorance.
Quietly and quickly, she flitted out of the trees and stood at the edge of the open space. Out of the darkness of the bush, she was able to truly see the clearing. Pristine grass grew in the purest green, flowers of hundred of shades sprouted on every surface. Strange, twisting trees dotted the area, as sporadic as the large, purple boulders, like the one the angel was laying on. The sky above was littered with stars, clear and milky. When was the last time I noticed the sky, Lilium asked herself. She didn’t remember. The moon danced over her, lighting up her grey body. The fractures in her flesh were bloody, and the Hell Fire that flowed beneath was pulsing up and down with the ecstasy of battle. Leaves and twigs were stuck in the vein like fractures, and dirt covered her legs. She was sure she was a hideous mess of blood, fire, and leaves.
Still unnoticed, she slithered over to one of the ivy trees and hid from the view of the languishing angel. She quickly jumped behind one closer to him, and then still closer. She could feel her horns tangling with the strands of leaves, the arrowheads tied to the tips of her hair pulling at the foliage. The trees were singed and smoking from where she had huddled up to them. Lilium watched him bathe in the light of the moon. He was ethereal, more beautiful than Lucifer himself. Letters and symbols glowed in blue light, spelling out a name she hadn’t heard nor said in countless millennia.
“Chamuel,” she whispered, unaware of herself.
The angle atop the rock twisted around gracefully and quickly. Bewildered, he stared off in the direction of the disembodied voice. He searched, with bright blue eyes, the trees where she hid. His black hair blew into his face and he pushed it back forcefully. His pale arms flexed as he held the dark strands away from his eyes, still looking for Lilium. His chest rippled with lean muscles, marred by long scars from blades and claws. A white, pleated Grecian skirt and a sword held by a leather Kidney belt was all he wore. Chamuel was about to sit when Lilium stepped out to face the angel.
“Speak, evil creature, how do you know my name,” he snarled in her ear, cold lips brushing her boiling cheek. In a single swift movement, he had leaped from the rock and dropped behind her, arm wrapped around her throat.
“It’s me,” she trembled. “It is me, Lilium.”
Time stopped. Then it slowed, sped, slowed again. His arm was no longer on her neck and he was suddenly standing in front of her in all but half a second. He stared into her crimson eyes, searching, frowning. Tears welled up in his eyes, spilling over and streaking down his cheeks.
“No. No, you cannot be.” He turned away from her, raking his hair with rigid hands. His white back tensed and twitched. “No ... Lilium ... you cannot be her.”
“How else would I know your name,” she softly questioned.
“But ... but you – but she left me,” he cried, tears still in his eyes. His pale body trembled as he stared at her, obviously thinking of a time when they were together ... a happy time. In Paradise, laying together in a calm before the storm that shook the world. All was perfect, all was fine, until she stood at the sound of trumpets.
“Join me in the Revolution, Chamuel,” she had begged her lover. “We shall regain the love of God, be His first and only again. I know how you love Him, as we do, so come, help lead the humans away and take back the love that is rightfully ours!”
“Why would I do such a thing?” he replied, distraught at her blasphemy. “You are God’s daughter and He loves you, not Lucifer! Let him go on his own, to face Damnation alone! You cannot honestly agree with the fool!”He stood, towered over her and became the true angel he was. A blazing light of six wings and golden orbs for eyes, he yelled at her insolence, and banished her away.
At the Gates, she stood front row with Lucifer and her mother. She stole one last glance at the angels that remained in Paradise, who glared at them with disgust. Lilium searched for the face she longed to say farewell to, but could not. And then she was falling, her wings ripped out of her along with her Grace and Power. All memories of Chamuel were gone as she suffered in the fires of Hell, and relished in the mortal human’s pain.
Then she was on Earth, back to the night sky glittering above her and the trees caging them in a lonely world. She’d been reminiscing too long, giving him a chance to attack her. She was then thrown to the ground by the angel. He stood a few feet away, eyes wide with hatred and fear.
“Why ... why did you leave?” The question burst out from him like he’d waited since she Fell to ask her this.
“Why didn’t you come?” she asked in return.
“Answer me!” he shouted. The words blew over her like a powerful gust of wind. In truth, Lilium had no idea how to answer him. She didn’t really understand it herself, but she had made her choice based on something. What was it?
“I truly do not remember the specific reason. I wanted to be loved by God alone, not along with those filthy apes. They were His play things! He was giving our home to them. Those who had already died were frolicking about our home with no sense of shame, and did not excuse themselves in our presence! They were His second creation, and yet he gave them more: freedom. What did we do? We created our own Paradise and remained in these domains until we were bored. We weren’t allowed to walk the Earth, no, only his pet pigs! And then after they died, they still got to come to Heaven!” She was raving at him, hysterical in the injustice of it all. She remembered all the reasons she wanted to leave now, wanted to gain freedom. She remembered what it had been like to be a creation without choice. “I wanted to love and hate equally! I wanted to feel what the humans felt... I wanted to love you unconditionally, without worrying if God still loved me.”
“You had no idea who God was, then,” he sniffed. He was a perfect image of the brainwashed angels he called family: pompous fools who followed the orders of a leader they’d never seen.
“Oh, and you did? Do you, now? Have you ever seen Him, besides the glimpse you may have gotten on the day I Fell?” Lilium snapped at him. His face fell from that Holier-than-thou smirk. “No, I did not think so.”
“That does not mean I am just another one of his children. Each of us was, and still is, special to Him uniquely.”
“I desperately hope that helps you sleep without me,” Lilium growled as she pounced on him.
She clawed at his chest, his arms, his face. She heard him scream as the fire in her blood spilled out from the cracks and onto his skin. She bit his shoulder, his Holy silver blood trickling into her mouth; angelic blood was the sweetest they said, and oh, they were right. She couldn't stop herself, and soon she was lapping at the wounds like a famished leach. He wrestled under her, screeching and pushing her. He caught hold of a handful of her ripped and blackened dress and ripped her off of him, a mass of flesh ripping from him along with her jaws. He uttered the only true insult of her kind in a yell of fury and pain.
And just like that, he exploded into his Heavenly form. He towered over her in a burst of silver light. Six wings sprouted from his back, golden orbs swam in the middle of his face, blue lights danced on his skin. His life, her life, was written into his body; she saw her name, saw her Fall ... saw what it did to him after she betrayed their Father. He wielded a long silver blade, coursing with his blood. He was perfect ... he was her lover again. She fell to her knees in front of him, perplexed by his beauty, even down here on Earth. His gold eyes were fixed on her, no emotion written on his statuesque face. He was porcelain lit on fire.
“You were my everything,” the giant beam of light bellowed. “You were part of me as I am part of you. And you left. They waited for me to Fall, they tried to force me out. They thought that our intertwined fates would act as a chain and I’d be pulled down with you.” Another burst of light, and he was the dark haired, blue eyed man again. “But I waited for you,” he ended in a whisper.
Lilium was speechless. She hadn’t seen an angel in its real self in ages. Even as she Fell, the angels gathered in their human bodies. The last time she’d seen a true angel was at the Court, when Lucifer gathered the angels to speak his message. There was outrage, back lash and then defenders. It was mayhem. The world nearly ended then. But here it is now, ending all over again. She snapped out of her awe with this though.
“You could have joined me. You could have been great,” she lilted, voice soft as velvet. She pressed a palm to his chest, claws scratching his skin. He shivered under her palm. She leaned into him, chest pressed against his, her lips tugging at his ear. “You still can.”
“No.” He stiffened.
“Are you sure, because you’d be put first in command, most likely,” she drawled.
“You could be perfect without regret. You could choose your own fate.”
“You could destroy Lucifer and become king of Hell.”
“Yes ... that intrigued you,” she hissed.
He stared at her, questioning her truthfulness. She nodded and turned away. Lilium sauntered over to the pond he had been attempting to drink from. Kneeling beside it, she ran her fingers over the surface. It boiled and bubbled, red liquid seeping into the water from the dirt edges. It ebbed like wet ink. The water, now blood, steamed in the cool night.
“The power you could have,” she said, “would be incredible. You wouldn’t have to kneel like a pig at a trough to drink water. You could have whatever, whoever. You could have me plus fifty virgins, if you pleased.” She looked up at his face, biting her lip to suppress a grin. “You could have me, fifty virgins and enslaved angels. I know how much you loved Ambriel.”
He raced over to the demon who was now creating tides in the bloody water. He grabbed her shoulders and pushed her, hard, up against a tree. She felt her bones crack and immediately repair themselves. He bared his perfect teeth at her like a feral animal, blue eyes dilated and shining; gold rimmed his sockets, his fury shinning through. His hand was at her throat, squeezing the air out of her lungs. She smiled and laughed at his stupidity, forgetting that demons don’t need air to survive. This only enraged him further. His grip tightened, squeezing her neck to the size of a bamboo shoot. Lilium felt her oesophagus constrict, her bones snap, her spine collapse. The next second though, she was repaired. Over and over again this happened. It was truly more painful than Falling.
He finally let her go when she closed her eyes and went limp. She crumpled to the floor like a rag doll, wilted and rotten like the flowers in Hell. Her bones fixed, her throat expanded, but the pain of bones being broken over and over, and her soul twin doing it, chained her to the ground. He backed away from her, still anchored to the ground. She stared at him with pain filled, desperate eyes as he climbed atop the rock and stared at her.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I did not mean to. I just ... you left, and you really expect me to Fall too?” His voice echoed as a whisper, drenched in disbelief and misery. “I heard you scream, the pain you felt! I saw what was happening to you as you Fell and when you were imprisoned in Hell! You forget that we are connected in the most profound bond, and that I could feel what you did. I am so sorry,” his died to a whisper. She closed her eyes to the stinging of thick red tears. “I know everything that happened to you. I know why your flesh is cracked, why molten fire runs in your veins. I know when your face caved in and your bones formed into horns. I know when your knees broke. I know that you were beaten, abused, killed and Rebirthed over and over and over! But you want me to join you? No... never.”
She stared at him, chest rising and falling quickly. Her blood ran fast, spilling out of the cracks and burning the grass. It was horrendous, embarrassing that he knew all of this, that he just watched and didn’t beg their Father to save her, to forgive her. He would, too, that’s what He does. It’s not too late, you know. You could always ask Him now. But the thought died when she felt the rippling hatred that welled up in her in cycles. No, I am a monster now, Croatoan... I cannot be forgiven now.
She pushed herself up onto wobbling legs and growled at Chamuel. “You think you’re so superior. You think you are better than me. But you have no freewill; you are chained to our Father like a dog. You are nothing but a slave.”
“As are you. You believe you have the will to do what you please? Before this all occurred, when was the last time you walked the earth? When was the last time you fell in love? Felt love? Felt anything other than pain and hatred? You are not free. I may be chained to Father, but you are tied to a Fallen child throwing a tantrum.”
“I have walked this earth plenty,” Lilium said, feigning a dignity she did not feel and ignoring his last insult about her king.
“Oh yes, of course. Doing what, stealing the souls of mortals, searching for the Keys, gathering demons to exsanguinate the humans with Hell Fire and Silver Sange in their veins? But who sent you? I know you did not do this of your own accord.”
He was right. She did not choose to return to the Surface to find the humans with part demon blood. 'It’s the only way to be free', Lucifer had told her. 'We need to find them, the Keys, in order to release ourselves onto Earth.' She asked him why he couldn’t do it himself … she still had the cuts and bruises from her beating. 'I’m in a cage! I can roam my realm but I cannot so much as go near an Entrance without imploding and Rebirthing hundreds of miles away! Don’t be such a fool, Lilium, your mother said you better than that … and I thought you would have learned your lesson by now, or do you need to revisit Cresil? He hasn’t seen your impure face in centuries.' His incessant rhetoric forced her out of there.
“It’s not too late, Lilium. The reversal back to being angelical would be quick. I know you haven’t truly done any of the killing or torture; your penance would be fast and easy I’m sure.”
“But it is. You have already called me Croatoan. I am a disease coming to infect and destroy the world. And you were right … demons have caused thousands of settlements and colonies to disappear and to collapse. I have taken part; all hope for me is lost. I have killed hundreds of angels already. And besides,” she smirked and dropped the self-piteous tone, “I revel in the blood of mortals.”
Chamuel’s hopeful, kind face dropped. His half smile drooped down into the most flawless, disappointed expression, she nearly regretted denying him. The gold that had been shining behind his eyes the whole time flickered out like a candle. He looked ready to die, willing to kill himself. He was lost within himself again, having lost his soul twin for the second time.
“I have no choice, then, but to kill you,” he rasped, barely audible.
Lilium nodded. “And I, you.”
Thus, their battle commenced. Pulling her sword out of the sheath, she charged the beautiful angel with a roar. He blocked her blade with his own, sparks igniting between them. They twisted and turned, graceful as the wind. They were a storm, a hurricane, thunderous as they clashed. It was a war in its own. Fire spewed, lighting erupted, the ground shook, and water poured from the sky; their abilities was equally matched by the others.
In a stroke of luck, Lilium hit Chamuel’s sword out of his hands. It went flying towards a rock, clattering loudly as it bounced off. He ran, knowing that without a weapon he was doomed. She flitted between the trees. She twisted around and amazingly, was pointing the tip of her sword directly at his throat. She took a step forward as he bent down to lay on his back. She put one clawed foot on his chest to pin him there, sword still at his neck.
“Alas, I win. Now who is superior?” she stated monotonously. This was the end. Of course, he would return to Heaven, but he would never be able to return to earth, nor use his winged yet human form again. He would forever be the giant pillar of light.
“And so I say goodbye, Lilium. I have and always will love you. Perhaps one day you will return,” he sighed hopefully.
“I do not believe I will …” her voice trailed off as tears welled up in her eyes, spilling over the brim and washing down her face. She saw crimson droplets dribble onto his chest like rain. She inhaled, staring into his eyes, lifting her sword. “I am so sorry.” Lilium brought the blade down to his chest, piercing him straight in the heart.
She expected a scream, a moan, a choking sound. But he just looked at her, a smile playing on his lips before erupting into light. The bright beam disintegrated his body, and she could feel the true spirit of her lover leave her, forever.
In the distance, away from the glade, the sound of a demon’s scream echoed to the archangels stalking the daughter of the child eating demon Lilith. She’d been a key in the release of Lucifer and all of Hell unto the Earth.
“Chamuel must have gotten one of the damned beasts,” noted Michael.
“Let us hope,” whispered Gabriel.