For the great day of her wrath has come, and who shall stand?
From the Desk of Minus Three:
It’s been said more than once that there’s nothing quite so terrible to behold as a sad Cherub. As it turns out that isn’t true; an angry one is far more terrifying still. Essential listening for those that want to hear what it sounds like in an angry Cherub’s head… http://soundcloud.com/lacerated-wax/laceration-selekta-murk-of-the Just put that on and start reading I guess. Ha!
I guess I should also point out that there’s no sex in this chapter. If that was the only reason you were here you probably wouldn’t be reading my stories though, yeah? Plenty of wonderful smut around already.
Now, back to the program.
Welt ~ 9
I Can Help You to See the Light Out of Your Despair…
They loved me so they trusted me. That’s how faith works. Maybe they thought I was a runaway, or someone fleeing an abusive family. Perhaps they had all along suspected I was something more. I didn’t want to lie and so I’d never brought it up, they could probably tell I didn’t want to talk about it and so they’d never asked. I hadn’t gone digging around in their minds to find out either. That’s how faith works. It had been a conversation I hadn’t ever really wanted to have with them, but I guess it was well past that now.
With Jezebel’s blood on my hand I’d ripped off the back door of the car and helped them out of the wreck. Lisa had had a numb look on her face, blood dripping from a welt on her forehead. Mark had been shaking and looking from Jezebel’s ruined body to me and back again over and over. Shock is a bitch. The sirens and shouts of men coming our way wasn’t something I had had time for so I’d looked Mark in the eye and said in a firm voice, “You have to stay here with Lisa. I’m not finished. I love you both very much.”
He’d nodded mutely, still looking from my hand to Jezebel and back again. He didn’t have to say it, I felt it; they loved me too, unconditionally. I would never do anything to change that or make it go away or falter for one single step, but I had been terrified that seeing me like this would make it all crumble to dust. I had never wanted anyone I knew to see me like this, especially them. Maybe it had been foolish of me to think that I could just walk away from all of…this; but I hadn’t had any other choice. How could I have ever had a life of love with these two perfect people if things like this were going to keep happening? At the moment I let go of my Spark I’d felt like I was finally home, but as it turns out I was just hiding from the truth. I’d never liked my life until I met Mark and Lisa; I had just lived it because it was all I had ever known. Putting my trust in them and myself I had given my Spark up to the Choir and cut myself adrift amongst the mortals. That’s how faith works.
No one can run forever though, and I’d had a family before this one that needed me now.
“Wait, Ali,” Mark had said as he’d helped Lisa out of the car. “I…I love you too.”
My face had scrunched up and new tears had flowed down my cheeks. Not tears at what I did, or at what I knew I still had yet to do, but rather simple and joyful tears of love and faith. I’d put my hand on his cheek and used a line he’d used on me in the past when he’d gone to wreak some wrath of his own. “I promise I’ll tell you when I get back.”
As the first police car had come into the alley I had leapt into the air and was gone, wings like soft white down and silk spreading wide from my back and bearing me aloft. Oh man, that wasn’t going to be an easy conversation later.
Flight was the only thing I had missed about being immortal. The wind rushed through my hair and ripped at my clothes. If I didn’t have to come down eventually and move amongst the mortals again, my adopted people, I would have torn them off and flown naked to feel the air rushing past my skin as I’d used to. Even in the hot Los Angeles sun, at this speed the air was freezing cold and it calmed me. I spiraled higher and higher, the city becoming a gray blanket far beneath me with the ocean stretching out beside it. I wanted to soar up to where the darkness started and plummet straight into its surface and hear the sharp hiss as I knifed deep below its surface, but I had no time to swim.
I didn’t care for that thought very much; no time to swim? Since when? Since this had all started. Raguel had taken my sister, taken my home, taken my family, and now he had taken swimming from me too? Geez man, next thing you know he would take gum. I really didn’t like him very much at that moment.
It hadn’t always been like this though. He had once been pure and holy and bright. When Avrielle had been cast he had been the perfect and ideal choice to mentor and guide her. I couldn’t have done it; I only resonate with Love and wouldn’t have been able to show her or explain all the other complexities of human emotion. A Cherub resonates only with Love…it is too strong a thing to understand while also trying to pay attention to other sensations; this is why there were Cherubim and Elohim both. Likewise for Truth; it stood as the sole domain of the Seraphim, too strong to mingle with other things.
As she’d emerged from the crèche as one of the Elohim I’d been momentarily saddened that I wouldn’t be able to take her under my wings and show her how to tread the path and work the Choir myself, but Raguel had been one of the best amongst us. He had been old even when I was young, and I was one of the first to walk amongst the mortals when it became clear that they needed guidance in how to move with the Choir so as not to unmake its balance. Saphtinel, my mother, had been deeply in love with him and it was no surprise to any of us when she chose to merge her essence with his to cast Avrielle. I suppose that made her only my half sister but it had never felt that way to me. I suppose that made Raguel her father, but she didn’t think along those lines. In truth, it was only the Cherubim who thought of our network of bindings and birthings in familial terms at all. That made sense, too. Of course we were; why else would the others? How else could the others? The Seraphim weren’t even able to walk amongst humans, their resonance for Truth made them see sin in everything down here; make up, clothes, even language seemed false to them. A perversion or false representation of what they saw to be absolute Truth. Elohim were too stern and to the point; a sense of family would cause them to dwell on one thing above other things and the unity and balance of all emotions together was how they viewed the Choir.
Avrielle had humored me my affection though, and eventually came to return it to some degree. Raguel had been a stern mentor and he had taught her well how to do…whatever it was Elohim do. I honestly barely understood it, even after all these many long centuries. I had always felt somewhat sorry for them, having to feel everything that everyone around them felt. I suppose that’s why she had been so eager, as eager as an Elohite can be anyway, to serve beside me once her century of schooling and tutelage was over. I of course cherished the idea as well; she was my baby sister after all. She’d always been able to guide me when love or its loss blinded me to the facts. Her insights, that I would never have looked for, had spared many my wrath in the time since. Her immaturity had been well tempered by Raguel’s firm hand.
That was long, long ago though. When Raguel had crossed the line and become one of the Fallen she had been devastated. We all were, but Avrielle more than any other. Though she had only spoken of it once, I knew that a passion to help him return to the Fold had long burned inside of her. I should have been a better sister and made her talk about it, but that would have hurt as much as it would have helped. Making another do anything was what we had tasked ourselves to prevent, and so the thought of making my sister speak of her anger wasn’t a good one to foster. I maybe should have coaxed though, nudged, invited. I trusted in her training and her even bearing, though. I had trusted her to do the right thing.
That’s how faith works.
From just below the clouds LA looked small. I scanned back and forth across it, feeling the love of many, and the emptiness of most, and a tear froze to my cheek. They could be so frustrating, the mortals. There was love enough for all and yet they just wandered around with their eyes closed to it, all the while pining that they had none. That had been my job once; subtly maneuvering them around so that they would find what they loved and latch on to it. Mark and Lisa had changed all of that though. I saw in them much of myself and at the time the decision to stay with them had been an easy one. I hadn’t known I was going to do it until the moment arrived to leave them and I had watched the Rislyn bloom in my hand. Two things becoming one; it was the most beautiful thing one could behold. Staying had been easier than leaving would have been. Should I have left? It would have spared them the torment and fear they felt now, but the three of us together had become something that I hadn’t even known possible. I suppose I wasn’t as selfish as I sometimes felt…I had served Love more by staying than I could have by leaving.
I did not have the ability to sense Hate. That comes with the Fall, as a Cherub becomes one like Jezebel. A Hate so strong that she had rejected even her true name, keeping it as a tag on the end of the ones she chose for herself on her whims, like the punch line to some bitter joke. I forced myself to remember her as she had once been rather than what she had become, what she had forced me to destroy. That was my recent humanity speaking now; she hadn’t forced me to do anything. I had chosen to do that. There is always a choice. I couldn’t suffer to let her live though.
Scanning the city I sought not the Hate in Raguel but the absence of Love. I found it then; an inky black hole somewhere downtown that I could see from here. He had grown more powerful than I had suspected, no doubt fed by a network of thralls and sycophants. There was no shortage of those in this city. The Fold didn’t like Los Angeles; it was a fierce battleground that had been all but forsaken except for the strongest and most dedicated of them. Avrielle had been one of those. I thought of her now, human and mortal and probably scared of what I had done to her. If I hadn’t taken her Spark when I had then she would be one of them now, and I would probably be dead. The thought stabbed me like hot fire as I thought about Mark and Lisa and how much they would have missed me. Better that I had left them a year and a half ago than to make them suffer through that. To steal another’s Spark though; it was unprecedented. I had never heard of it happening. Had I done right, or was I as bad as the rest?
“Verum et vidistis passum,” a deep voice boomed inside of me. <you saw the truth and acted>
“Pater,” I whispered. <father>
“Reversi estes ad Ovile,” it said. <you have returned to the Fold>
“I Avrielle tulit scriptor…” I started, but he cut me off. I took Avrielle’s…>
“I omnes Veritates. ” <I know all Truths>
“Quid ergo facium?” I asked him. <then you know what I must do?>
“Verum nulla in posterum. Nunch tantum in. Veritas est quod debet servare eam Scintilla.” <there is no Truth in the future. only in the now. the Truth of the now is that you must retain her Spark>
“Sed familia mea…” I protested, tears coming to my eyes and freezing there. I would not leave them. <but my family…>
“Gente intellegere. Genus suscipiam.” <family will understand. family will accept>
Aposophes, my father, was a Seraph. He couldn’t say it if it wasn’t true and so I believed him. That’s how faith works. The Hasta Paenitentiae appeared in my hand, soft motes of light circling it. The Spear of Penance. I hadn’t held it in centuries; Sodom, Gommorah, other places that mortals hadn’t written of because they were so ruthlessly expunged at my hand…but it still felt familiar. Its twisted and delicate shaft appeared extruded from glass, a feather from the wing of each who had wielded was tied with a silky white ribbon just below its broad and barbed golden blade. Most of them were mine.
“Tempus est Ira Agni. Patet via tua, Cherub parum?” <it is time for the Wrath of the Lamb. your path is clear, little Cherub?>
I steeled myself with fresh resolve. Having a Seraph’s blessing is about as close to the word of “god” as one can get.
“Est,” I said grimly.
I turned in the air, threw my wings back, and plummeted like a hot streak of white light from the heavens. The rime of frost covering my body splintered and melted and flew from my wings as I descended, faster and faster, the city rushing up to meet me. My clothes shredded and ripped away, being replaced by a small and diaphanous white skirt that barely covered my hips and a swatch of the same tied around my breasts. I honed in on the center of the vacant and empty pit of nothing that I knew was where I would find Raguel.
“Tempus est Ira Agni,” I thought to myself, and with a boom like thunder I spread my wings at the last second and landed in the park where Raguel stood, waiting, with his arms spread and a jagged smile across his beautiful face. Wrapped around his fist was a cruel length of chain and hooks and barbs and metal thorns.
“Little Cherub,” he greeted me through his teeth. People started to flee and Raguel shot his hands up above his head and slammed them back down to his sides in fists. They all dropped and cowered, covering their heads with their arms. Men. Women. Children. All terrified, all feeding him.
“Hello Raguel,” I said, washing over his new thralls with love to calm them. I couldn’t release them from his bondage, but I made sure they knew they were loved. The Lamb was here to kill for them. To die for them if need be. They were not alone.
More people were running into the park to see what was happening and as they approached they fell too. I had to stop them, cut off his power; I looked to the sky and clenched the Spear in my little fist and called the winds as I’d done so many times in the long distant past. It would keep what was about to happen contained to this space and hopefully keep everyone in the city inside somewhere. I thought of Mark and Lisa and hoped they were safe, holding my thoughts of them close to my heart and gaining strength from pure raw unbridled Love.
Things were about to get downright biblical.
“I’m flattered you think I’m worth all of this,” Raguel drawled sensually as the sky blackened and the air itself began to howl.
“You’re not,” I said calmly, “but they are.”
“I thought you’d left us for good, Aliona,” Raguel said. “I’d heard you didn’t have the stomach for this anymore.”
“You heard wrong, traitor,” I said. I could feel the wrath inside of me, warm and satisfying. Rage and anger were the province of demons; but wrath is divine, the little known side of love that most hope to never feel. That was my job. It surged and swelled, anxious for release. The sky was black now but the air in the park swirled only slowly. The Lamb had come, and with it the hail of hot vengeance from the sky. Part of me felt bad for LA, but every now and then the mortals needed to see that there are consequences. “It’s your kind that I can’t stomach.”
“Tell me, Aliona. When you killed Jenna did you like it? Did you feel that it was right?”
“This won’t work on me Raguel,” I told him. “You can’t trick me into getting mad at you. I don’t hate you, I don’t despise you, and I don’t want you dead. I want only to see your corruption of the Choir end. I feel only pity for you.”
I could see the bitter rage cross his face when I said it and his whole body tensed and the thralls he had created here in the park writhed on the ground with whatever it was he was feeling.
“PITY!?” he screamed, his face twisting. “Where was your pity when you took her life?”
“You used to understand, old friend. That was pity; and it was no life worth living.”
“So you decide? You choose what’s right and what’s worthwhile?”
“The alternative is far worse,” I replied as we circled slowly, maintaining our distance from each other. Raguel had always been one of the strongest before he fell, and he had become more so feeding off the despair of others in the years since. “We cannot suffer to leave it to the likes of you.”
He lashed out at the people huddled around us and I heard their screams. He reveled in it, soaking it in and smiling demonically. “The likes of me? We’re not so different, you and I. We both want to be free. We both want to be in control. We both want what we feel is right.”
“You say that now, but you’ve forgotten that with that freedom comes responsibility; to those close to us, to those around us, to those we’ve never even met. Someone very wise, that I respected more than almost anything, once told me that freedom at the cost of another’s isn’t freedom…it’s tyranny.”
“Nice words, Cherub. Who said them? You’re cursed Seraphim father?”
“You did, Raguel.”
“And so now you’re going to save me? Redeem poor lost Raguel?” he spit the words out like they tasted bad in his mouth.
“No. I’m going to destroy you and spread your Spark to the winds like ashes in the wake of a whirlwind. I’m going to raze you like Gommorah and stomp your remains into the dust under my feet. I’m going to pull you apart into a thousand pieces and no one will remember you. The Choir will forget that your discord ever soiled it and your name will be stricken from the scrolls like so many that have fallen before me in the past. I’m going to make you wish that you’d never deigned to draw breath too pure for your black lungs and right before you perish you’ll thank me for it. I promise you this.”
“Ha! And then what? You’ll take my place? Be just like me?”
“I promise you that that will never happen. No Raguel…then I’m going to fuck my boyfriend and kiss my girlfriend and then maybe go for a swim.” I smiled at him and winked.
“Fiesty today, aren’t you, Aliona? You grew up to be quite the little troublemaker.”
“Fucking rights I did.”
You Won’t Miss the Sun Until it Burns Out the Sky…
“Holy fucking shit,” Samael said breathlessly when the boom sounded outside. He was standing by my balcony doors and I flinched instinctively as things fell from shelves and I felt the floor shake. It reminded me of shelling, the distant explosions that could shake whole cities.
“That wasn’t thunder; that sounded like…” I started.
“You don’t know the half, friend,” he said to me, staring wide eyed through the glass and out into the skyline. I jumped up to join him and my eyes went wider than his. Clouds had rolled in, black and ominous, and wind howled between the buildings. Rain lashed from the sky and far below I could see people running for cover. Some of the windows on the office building across the street had cracked or shattered and glass was falling along with the rain.
“What the fuck…” I gasped.
“We have to get as far away from here as possible, yeah?” Samael said suddenly, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me from the window. “Grab Avrielle and let’s fucking go.”
“I don’t under…”
“You don’t want to friend, trust me. Grab her. Now.” he said, taking my keys off the table and heading for the door. “Sharpish, Christopher! Do I look like I’m mucking about!?”
I pushed through the door into my bedroom to see Avrielle at the window, her hand over her mouth and tears flowing from her eyes. I grabbed her by the arm and pulled her along. She was in shock it seemed, coming along meekly whereas before she would have fought or took control. Out the door, down the hall. There were others crowding the corridor, panicking and trying to crowd into the elevator. They shouted and screamed as the whole building rocked and shook as another crash of noise sounded outside. “Is it an earthquake? Is it a terrorist attack? What’s going on?” they shouted to no one in particular. Samael pushed past them to the stairs, kicking the metal fire door off its hinges without slowing. The stairs were crowded too, but we made it to the parking garage.
Pulling out of the parking lot and onto the street we were met with hail. More hail than I thought possible. It had gone dark like night and the streetlights did little to penetrate the blackness. The street lit up as the sky erupted in a flash of sheet lightning the likes of which I’d never seen before. Samael skidded and slid through the chaotic street as everything turned white with the torrent of hail. It pounded off the roof like gunfire and cracked the windows of the car. The hood was dimpled with dents and the hailstones were getting bigger, jagged shards of ice raining from the sky and making it impossible to see more than a foot or two in any direction.
“What in the FUCK is happening!” I yelled, holding Avrielle close to me in the back seat.
“Real wrath of god type stuff!” Samael yelled over the cacophony of the storm. “You would have done well to read that bible!”
“Take me there!” Avrielle shouted.
“What!? NO! We’re getting the fuck out of LA!” he yelled back.
“Take me there NOW!” she screamed.
“Look, you might not have noticed but this is the fucking rapture!” Samael hollered. “And you’re in no condition to get in on it! You’re no longer…”
“I fucking know that!” she went on. “But that’s my fucking sister out there somewhere and we’re going to fucking help her! Someone give me a gun!”
Water flowed like a river down the street and we hydroplaned this way and that, waves of water and hail arcing up from the wheel wells. More thunder, more lightning, more hail. I tried to protest but instead I found myself handing my gun to Avrielle. “Just do what she says.”
“WHAT!? The both of you have gone fucking MENTAL!” Samael yelled, his knuckles white as he struggled to keep the car going in one direction.
“You wanted back in!” Avrielle said, “So jump the fuck back in!”
“Bollocks!” he yelled, yanking the wheel around and sliding sideways around a corner. The car was now pointing towards what appeared to be the center of the chaos. Huge black clouds swirled in a whirlpool in the sky above and ahead of us. The wind pushed the car to one side of the street and we sped along at a 45 degree angle to the curb. “This is fucking mad!”
Several blocks later we came to the edge of a park and the car slammed through a solid wall of spinning wind and into sudden calm. The air bags had deployed and as Samael struggled against them in the front seat I got out. In the middle of the park I could see Avrielle’s tiny sister standing twenty feet away from a man in a pair of black dress pants, his white shirt untucked and moving in the gentle breeze. In his right fist he gripped a cruel looking length of barbed and hooked chain. At least I assumed it was Aliona by her size and stature; huge billowy white wings spread from her back and spanned ten feet to either side of her and her hair blew across her face. I could see two hard points of bright green light where her eyes should be and her lower lip was tight in her teeth. She stood with her feet apart and her arms out to her sides. In her right fist she clenched a long glass spear, its shaft along her arm and its gold blade pointing downwards shining with its own internal light. It was bright enough that it burned my eyes to look at it and it lit the park like the sun in the middle of the hurricane of wrath ripping the city apart. They circled each other slowly, the man between us and Aliona.
“Is that…?” I asked.
“Est,” Avrielle said. “Ira Agni.”
“I don’t speak Latin!” I snapped.
“I think you get the point, yeah?” Samael said in awe as he freed himself from the front seat and stood beside me. Avrielle got out the other side of the car, cocked back the action of my handgun, and started walking towards them
“Hey!” she yelled. The man looked over his shoulder and she shot him in the face.
He Built His Throne From Bayonets, and While We Slept He Dreamed…
There were about fifty people in the park with us, give or take; fifty people that could easily die at the click of Raguel’s fingers. Fifty people that had families and lives and hopes and dreams and loves that he was feeding off of like the monster that he was. A group of school children cowering with their teacher by the playground equipment. Two nuns in their habits hiding under a bench. Three old men sprawled face down on the ground writhing in fear near where they’d played chess in the day’s bright sun. Business men taking a break in the green. A woman walking her dog. A group of joggers splayed out in the grass wishing they could cry out for someone to help them, too terrified to move.
These people were the reason I existed. It had once been my job to keep them safe from pieces of shit like Raguel. Instead, I felt him rip and pull at them as he drew strength from them and the bullet Avrielle had put in his face was forced out of his cheek to fall at his feet. I realized then that I had been wrong all along; there was no bottom to hit. Once you fall you keep falling and he was proof of that. With my eyes I could see him standing there smiling, but with my resonance there was only hate. A black, hollow, man shaped rip in the Choir.
“Quite the reunion,” Raguel drawled. “How’s my little angel feeling?”
Avrielle shot at him again and he laughed as the bullet slammed into his chest. He didn’t even flinch. We should have just kept fleeing. She pulled the trigger until the gun was empty while he shook his head and laughed. Christopher stood dumbly at my side, a look of fear and shock on his face. Avrielle had dropped the gun and was leaning forward, sprinting at Raguel.
“Whoa!” I yelled, lunging after her to stop her. What was she thinking? Probably forgetting in her anger that she was no longer one of us and hadn’t even close to the ability to cope with this. I didn’t think that I did either, for that matter. I grabbed her and drug her to the ground under me. She screamed and I rolled off of her, thinking that I’d hurt her in my haste. She clutched at her stomach and writhed on the ground, her eyes rolled back in her head. He was making her feel the bullets that had ripped through him a second ago. I looked up and met his gaze, screaming “Fucking demon!”
“Oh, like you’re one to talk,” he laughed. I saw movement behind him and he looked where I looked. Aliona was screaming through the air towards him with the spear held in front of her.
He spun on his toes out of the way and her thrust missed his face by the width of a hair. Even I was surprised at how fast he was, how powerful he had become feeding off this city where so many felt the crushing defeat of lost hope. As she landed, her feet wide and her arm stretched out with the spear in front of her eyes flashed hot and green at me.
“What are you doing here!?” she snapped as she bent at the waist to avoid the stroke of Raguel’s hooked chain. “I told you to keep her safe, stupid!”
She ducked and rolled under another of his blows, the chain blasting apart the ground where it hit, sending clods of dirt in the air as he raised it for another swing. She slashed with the blade of her spear at his face, back and forth in small motions to drive him back. She looked at me again. “I asked you a question, Samael! What the fuck are you doing here!?”
“She made me come!” I yelled, shrugging.
“Made you!?” She ducked a blow and leapt over another, holding herself in the air with her wings and stabbing downwards. “How did she make you!? You’re a Cherub, Samael! No one makes us do anything!”
Raguel spun the chain around over his head and she folded her wings, dropping to the ground in a crouch to avoid his strike as he snapped it into the air at her like a whip. He pulled his feet up as she swung the spear at his legs and then jumped backwards to avoid a stab at his throat. “Fuck, I’m sorry okay? Are you happy now?”
She dodged or struck out at Raguel as she spoke through clenched teeth. “I’d be a lot…happier… if you hadn’t brought…my kid sister…to the fucking park!”
“What should I do!?” I yelled. Raguel was laughing maniacally at us as they spun and fought like whirling cyclones of violence.
“Fuck man!,” she yelled at me as she bent in half backwards at the waist to barely avoid having the chain raked across her face. “I’m kind of fucking busy right now! Figure something out!”
She feinted at Raguel’s legs and when he jumped into the air again she did as well, spreading her wings and baring her teeth as her eyes flashed and she brought the shaft of the spear across the side of his head with a resonant sound like two tuning forks colliding. He staggered backwards and she stabbed three short stabs at him as she advanced. He flipped the chain around expertly, slamming it against the spear. It wrapped with its own momentum up its length and around Aliona’s arm. As he savagely yanked on it she let out a ragged “AAAAAAH!” as its barbs tore at her flesh and dug in.
I jumped on him from behind and wrapped my arms around his neck, squeezing as hard as I could. I had almost lifted him off the ground, the chain taut between his fist and where it wrapped around the spear and Aliona’s arm, but he reached over his shoulder with his free hand and flipped me vertically into the air. I crashed to the grass several feet away and rolled to my feet. While he’d been distracted with me Aliona had managed to free herself. Her right arm was torn and bloody but she gripped the spear in both fists over her head and jumped at Raguel, her wings wide as she stabbed it downwards towards his chest. He slipped away but its blade grazed his side and he staggered back from her again. The ground shook when she landed on her feet and she held the spear by its very end with both her tiny hands, screaming savagely and swinging it in a wide arc towards him. He leaned backwards but wasn’t fast enough. The shaft of the Spear of Penance slammed into his chest with her full strength behind it and he flew across the park, hitting a metal slide in the playground and bending it in half.
I looked quickly to where Avrielle lay on the ground. Christopher had his gun back, loaded, and was kneeling next to her, aiming at Raguel.
“Don’t!” I yelled, but he’d already pulled the trigger. As Aliona swooped gracefully through the air towards Raguel two bullets slammed into him as he pulled himself free of the wreckage of the slide. The poor thralls, including Avrielle, screamed in pain and Christopher looked startled. “You’re going to kill them!”
“She’s not hurting them!” he shouted at me, confused, pointing to Aliona.
“The spear can’t hurt mortals! Stop fucking shooting at him!” I cried, looking back to the melee.
Aliona had swept down upon him as he flinched slightly from the bullets hitting his chest. He screamed in agony as the spear raked across his chest. Smoke rose from the wound and his blood sizzled on its golden blade. The hooked chain in his fist wrapped around her leg as she caught the bottom of his chin with an upward thrust of the spear’s butt. He lunged backwards, trying to rip her feet out from under her, but she leapt instead into the sky with his neck in her free hand. They thrashed and jerked in the air fifty feet above the ground, a tangled mess of flailing chain and spear and arms and legs.
“Remember how it feels to fly Raguel!?” Aliona yelled in her enemies face, spreading her wings and spiraling upwards. “Or does this feel more familiar!?”
She knifed around in the air with him under her and with one hard thrust of her white wings she drove him to the ground like a rocket, twisting and bending the jungle gym as they smashed into it. The ground shook with the impact, almost knocking me from my feet.
“Holy shit,” I whispered, my hands going numb with the thought of the power in her small form. I shook my head and sprinted fast towards the tangled metal sticking up out of the hole she’d left in the ground.
She stumbled out of the small crater, dropping the spear and falling to her hands and knees with her hair dripping blood and hanging to the ground over her face. I saw movement behind her; Raguel climbed out of the smoking hole and brought his chain over his head in a huge downward swing. There was no way I could get there in time.
“Look out!” I screamed, but I was too late. Aliona shrieked in horrid pain as the chain slammed into her and drove her to her face in the dirt. He continued the motion of his arm, dragging its hooks across her tiny back, shredding her skin and throwing blood in little spirals as he brought it around and up for another devastating blow.
I leapt between them and knew a pain I had never felt in my long life. The chain channeled his pain and rage and hate along its length as it tore through my flesh, wrapping around my arm and neck. He jerked me off of Aliona and slammed his foot down into my chest where I’d landed on my back.
“Cherubs,” he hissed evilly as he braced with his foot and jerked the chain from me with both hands. I saw a good deal of myself come away with it in flayed strips. I looked at my right arm, stunned to see it stripped to the bone from my shoulder to my elbow. “Stupid noble fucking Cherubs.”
I tried to get up but he stomped on my chest again. Looking up at him from the ground I saw him tighten his grip on the chain and heave it around over his head to strike the life out of me. There was a blur of motion and it stopped only a foot from my face, wrapping around the shaft of the Spear of Penance. I flicked my eyes to the left and saw Aliona, unsteady on her feet. Blood flowed freely down her torn arm and dripped from her fists on the spear and her small face, her hair plastered across it with blood and sweat and tears, contained all the rage of the heavens. My heart stopped in my chest at the sight of her; her eyes oozed and blazed with green fire, trailing behind her as she moved.
“That’s…the whole…fucking…POINT!” she panted and yelled, and then she slammed the spear upwards at his face, the flat of the blade and his own chain smashing his nose and cheek into a gory puddle.
Raguel lost his grip on the chain and she pushed her foot at him like a soldier going through a door and he folded in half at the middle and flew back across the park. She was right behind him with one small flex of her wings and she swung the spear over her head to drive him to the ground with a solid resounding thump before gravity could do the job for her. He stumbled to his feet as she landed in front of him and brought her left knee up into his side. She unleashed a leaping, spinning, blurring flurry of kicks and strikes with the spear; it was like nothing capable with mortal hands, nor those of an immortal for that matter. She drove him backwards with his blood flying wildly about through the air. Her voice had risen into a terrifying shriek of pure holy capital W Wrath. The unnatural storm tearing through the city had doubled its frenzy.
Raguel was still on his feet somehow, his body a mess of wounds and hanging entrails, and she paused for one brief second. The storm spun to a halt around the park and the sun pushed a single bright ray through the clouds to shine down on her. It’s glory and brightness grew and grew to a blinding brilliance and with divine volume she screamed “NOOOOOO MOOOOOORE!!!”
The ground shook and heaved with her scream and she lunged forward with the Spear of Penance, driving it through him and lifting his twitching body into the air. He slid down the crystal shaft to where her tiny fists clenched around it and she turned her ear to his mouth. He said something, too quiet for me to hear, and she kissed him softly on the lips and nodded. A concussive blast detonated outwards from them, bending trees and ripping up the earth. Every window within three blocks in every direction shattered and an explosion of white light consumed them.
You; You’ve Got What I Nee-eeed…
As it faded I felt deafened by the silence. The clouds had been driven back by the detonation and the sky was blue. The air was still and the people about the park still cowered on the ground; except the nuns, who knelt praying, staring towards where Aliona stood in the epicenter of the wrath she had wrought. She dropped the spear, folded her wings around herself, and fell to her knees with her face in her hands.
I pulled away from Christopher. We’d been close to where Aliona had destroyed Raguel and he had covered me with his body to protect me from the blast. He was unconscious but otherwise unharmed. I struggled to my feet, my ears ringing, and I stumbled into the wide flat crater and threw my arms around my sister. All that remained of Raguel was a miasma of grey powder floating gently in the air. Aliona leaned into me as I hugged her as hard as I could, her small body shaking uncontrollably with the fading power of her fury.
“I have to go,” she said, trying to pull away from me.
“Wait,” I whispered. “Rest a moment.”
She pushed my arms gently from her shoulders and stood. She put her little toes under the shaft of the spear and flipped it up to her fist. “I have something I have to do.”
“It’s over, there’s nothing left to do,” a voice said from the rim of the crater. I looked up to see Samael standing there with his arm held close to his side, flesh already wrapping and roping itself around his ruined arm as he healed himself. He looked surprised at how fast his body was knitting itself back together. “Well, I’ll be damned…”
“Please don’t say that. It’s coming from me,” she said to him, holding the spear horizontally towards him. “This is for you now, you’ve earned it. It can only wielded by a Cherub of the highest nobility.”
“I don’t really think…no, I don’t think I should touch that, I’m not a….” he was saying.
“Yes you are,” Aliona interrupted quietly, putting her tiny hand on his cheek. “Yes you are.”
“Where are you going?” I asked, staggering up to them.
“Cherubs keep their promises,” she said, looking up into my eyes as she pulled her hair from where it stuck to her face. The fire was gone but their familiar glint and sparkle was unchanged. She bit her lip and winked, her grin dimpling her little cheeks.
“What are you on about?” Samael asked, taking the spear nervously from her with one shaking hand.
“Before you got here I made Raguel a promise,” she said mischievously, “and I intend to keep it.”
She kissed me on the cheek and threw herself skyward with a flex of her thin little legs. Her wings unfolded, reached above her, and with one powerful thrust she stretched out and she was gone.