The Truth is Never Pretty When You Wield it Like a Gun…
I was right, it wasn’t an easy conversation. How do you look at your family and tell them ‘I’m an immortal and I came into your lives to make you realize you were in love, then I fell in love with you too and here we are. Oh yeah, Revelations is mostly about me’? I guess you can just look at them and say it, but when they’re sitting across from you with their hands folded together and terrified looks on their faces the words seem to slip away when you reach for them. It had been like clutching at a wet bar of soap; the harder I tried the harder it got to hold on to.
It wasn’t so much explaining my part in it as much as it was explaining the whole big picture around me. These were good people, the kind of people that the Fold exists to protect in the first place. Trying to explain to them that there was a war going on, and they were the battlefield, and this had been going on as long as there had been people to fight over might just have been the hardest thing I had ever had to do. It had to be done though, and like a good soldier I pressed through. After I was through the part about me taking Avrielle’s Spark from her and rejoining the Fold they both had tears in their eyes. I had been trying not to brush against their thoughts; I had always felt that it was better to give mortals the chance to tell the truth without looking inside to read their minds. Avrielle, most others for that matter, always felt this was the same as giving them the chance to lie but I liked to be more optimistic than that. There had to be some hope; that’s how faith works. We shouldn’t be exempt from that simple truth.
By the time I was done talking though, it was impossible not to hear what Mark and Lisa were thinking. They were broadcasting their fears so loud that they could probably almost hear each other. They were horrified that I might leave them forever.
“Oh, no,” I told them softly, tears coming to my eyes to join theirs, “I would never do that.”
I went on to tell them that things were going to be different now, that I had a plan. I wasn’t going to let this go on anymore. What had happened to Avrielle had been the last straw for me. Duty was one thing, but as Raguel had told me long before he fell, freedom at the cost of another’s isn’t freedom…it’s tyranny. This whole jangled scene had left me with a resolve I couldn’t explain in words, but for them I had to try. The Choir had become the Fold’s master. It had become a ruthless tyrant, demanding of us things that broke us and tore us and made us Fall. Samael with his all consuming desire to rejoin the Fold was a perfect example of that. At some point he had regained his footing and the rest of the Fold ignored him, as though he had to serve some sort of penance in order to feel he was worthy or good or pure. He’d tried to give his life to save mine; demons don’t do that sort of thing, and yet they had forsaken him. He’d been toyed with by them.
Mark sat quietly, listening with a sad look on his face, while Lisa interrupted now and then to protest her lack of understanding. She understood…it was just her way of saying she didn’t like what she thought she was hearing. Her thoughts screamed it into the Choir around her; she thought I was leaving forever despite my assurances that I wasn’t. She was right though; for a time I had to leave. I had to leave behind everything I had fought for and go back to what I had abandoned to be with them. At least for a time. I couldn’t live with myself if I gave it all up again and left my other family to fend for themselves in a battle they simply couldn’t win without me. As long as there were Fallen there would be strife, and as long as there was the tyranny of the Seraphim there would be Fallen. There would always be wicked mortals, but that was a matter of choice. The Seraphim had taken our choices away from us, though; and I would see to it that we got them back.
At some point, pure Truth had become their Truth. My father Aposophes had told me as much when I was flying from the park where I’d destroyed Raguel, over the ruins of downtown Los Angeles, to find my mortal family and be held in their arms. He’d explained to me that the last truth he could speak to me was the truth that the Seraphim had lost their way. Mark had once said that life in the city was all marketing and no product; so too for the Fold it would seem. Not all, but most, had become lost and tangled in the web of myth the mortals had woven around us. My father had explained to me that I needed to retain Avrielle’s Spark for two reasons; because she could no longer walk her own freely chosen path if it remained in her, and because no one but me could stop the slide that had begun. He explained this to me and then bid me farewell, for the other Seraphim were coming for him. They had decided he too had fallen; I couldn’t fathom such a thing and so knew that his words were simple Truth. He hadn’t asked anything of me; he simply spoke Truth and then left for good.
How do you tell your family that you couldn’t stay with them knowing that if you did there would be untold suffering elsewhere? How do you tell them they will age, you will not, and so to save all the pain of such a thing you had to go? In the end you just say it. In the end you use those exact words.
In the end, you break their hearts.
A broken heart is a tricky thing; it wants to heal and grasps at any straw it can to prop itself up. I’d left the park thinking about falling into their arms, ripping their clothes off, rolling around naked and giggling and touching and groping. By the time I’d gotten home though I hadn’t fallen into their arms; I felt like I had fallen off a cliff and no one was waiting to catch me. I couldn’t just walk away this time, though; there was far too much at stake. The truth was the mortals were wrong about us, the truth was that we had no divine force guiding us, the truth was that the closest thing we had was just as flawed as everything else.
The truth was ugly; but it was True.
The conversation lasted hours, more due to me than to them. Mark shook his head and cried, Lisa kept protesting that there had to be another way, but I kept talking; piling words upon useless words until finally I had no choice left but to show them. I took one of Mark’s hand in my left and one of Lisa’s in my right and I just showed them. I let them in to see everything I had seen, everything I had done, everything I feared would come to pass if I stayed with them and took no action. I showed them what could be if I left and finished this once and for all.
When it was over, Lisa looked into my eyes and whispered, “Go then, Aliona. You have to go.”
The cessation of her protests saddened me more than her resistance had. Good people accepting bad things; this was what we stood against. Mark wanted to come with me, he thought they could help somehow and I showed him again what had happened in the park. We fought so that they could live freely. We fought so that they didn’t have to fight. We had always done this for them, and we always would.
Now though, we would fight for ourselves as well.
I told them I could make them forget me, but they wouldn’t have it. Mark finally spoke up and when he did it was in anger. I felt so dismal that I had made him angry at me, but as I reached inside to see myself as he saw me I saw only a shining beacon of light and hope. I touched Lisa as well, and for her it was the same. They understood. They knew why I had to do what I had to do and they wanted me to go and do it. Parting is such a bitter thing for those in love, but true love demands you accept the other for who they truly were; and these two wonderful people loved me more than even I, a Cherub, had ever felt. There was strength for me in that. It gave me a reason to fight, it gave me a reason to win, and it gave me reason to come back when it was done. They knew me finally for who I truly was, and the accepted it as my father had told me they would.
I thought of my promise to Raguel, what I had said I was going to do when I was finished with him, and how this simply wasn’t the time for such a thing. I had never broken a promise, not in thousands of years, and that would get me through this more than anything. What I went now to do I did for the good of the Fold, but also for myself and Mark and Lisa. I would be back. I would give the Spark back to the Choir. I would keep my promise; but not until this was over. As big and bad and awful as he had been, Raguel was barely the tip of the iceberg.
My father had explained to me that the whole War was a careful balancing act; that it was propagated at the expense of the mortals because if they no longer needed us then we would fade and become like those we protected. As long as there had been a Fold there had been the Fallen, else what purpose those who stood against them? It all seemed so true and clear now, all I had had to do was just look and there it was staring me in the face. Terrified at having to be like those they ‘protected’, the Seraphim had manipulated the Choir from the beginning to ensure their own survival. There had never really been as much choice as we’d been led to believe.
In their supreme vision the Seraphim Council had created Lies so that they could cling fast to the Truth that opposed it, and then they had washed this corruption over the mortals they had sworn to protect. This was not the world I wanted to live and love in; and it was no place for Mark and Lisa and me to grow old in. Once you see the Truth you can’t look away. I had to go. I had to win. If I won then I could come home, and so I left.
Standing in our backyard, trying to say goodbye and praying to the nothing I knew was listening, I saw the Rislyn flower. It had grown so big and beautiful in the last year and a half; I’d never seen one get so large, but I’d never seen one being fed by a Love like ours. I took one single blossom from it and put it in my hair, kissing them both and giving up the fight against my tears. They wrapped their arms around me and held me between them and we cried together the same way we had laughed together so many times since I’d met them.
This was worth fighting for.
“Good bye,” I whispered as I eventually pulled away.
“No,” Mark said to me, his voice hoarse with emotion. “Never, kitty. No goodbyes. Promise you’ll come back.”
“I will. I promise.” I sobbed, putting my hand over my mouth and leaning back into his chest.
“You’re the strongest person I know,” Lisa whispered into my ear. “Go do what you gotta do, Ali.”
She’d never called me that before. Lisa didn’t like abbreviated names for some reason. It all hit me harder then; I was going to find the others like Samael, those who had been rejected over simple mistakes. We would find them and gather them. We would find those like Raguel and put an end to them. When we had purged the world with a hot holy fire of wrath we would take the fight right to the Seraphim. There had been a similar rebellion, when Iblis had stood against the Council in what they had called Pride so that all, not just the mortals, could be free. They had called him the first Balseraph and cast him out. Now I knew that they had played him like a harp and manipulated him into it; and now I was walking in his footsteps.
I kissed Mark on the cheek, I kissed Lisa on the cheek, and through my tears whispered, “Meow.” Then my wings appeared and I spread them and threw myself into the air away from them. The Rislyn flower in my hair stretched and writhed, the stem growing thin and wrapping around so that the tip of it went into my ear. Its little tendrils grew longer and wove themselves into the hair on that side of my head and I clenched my jaw against the tears still trying to fall from my eyes.
I could feel not just Love, but the real Truth as well. As I flew to where I knew I would find Samael, Avrielle and the mortal who loved her, Christopher, I felt the city reeling in the aftermath of what had happened earlier. I felt confusion, fear, hope, surprise. I felt the sum of all things. They knew now, they had seen with their own eyes, but it wouldn’t be long before they forgot; they always forgot eventually, I’d seen it so many times I’d lost count. Now I knew why they forgot; they were made to forget. This must be how a Seraph feels; or at least how a Seraph is supposed to feel.
The absence of Truth is as bad as a Lie.
Had I perhaps become something more than even those who sat on high and decreed what would be? Not even for a second did I fear that I had somehow become less. I trusted in my father’s last words. I trusted in my belief that he knew what he was talking about. He was one of the first three, the first Seraph as my mother had been the first Cherub and Raguel the first of the Elohim. I had to believe that my father knew what he was talking about and wouldn’t have given his own life to pass on this last Truth to me.
I went now to gather allies for the new war that was to come. I went to crush the Fallen that couldn’t be saved under my tiny bare foot and grind them into the earth. I went with tears of love, loss, and wrath in my eyes; but I went. I went to start a war against what the mortals would call ‘heaven’ with my father’s last Truth burning in my mind.