Tears Of The Fall

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

More than three thousand years ago, I was betrayed by the one I loved; the one for whom I forfeited eternity. Beguiled by her innocence, I was led into captivity, forced to endure eons of darkness in joyless isolation.
My name was called Havvavhel, the destroying angel. I was believed to be Elion’s final creation. In the world below called Midbar, my name became known with infamy, borne of fables told beside firesides at eventide; legends—spun into myth and solemn song.
But far beyond the stars was I damned to wander alone; the emptiness of the celestial plane eventually becoming my home. There I spent my time; star systems away from the warmth of heaven. I waited silently in patience for my next assignment from the high court; my only desire was to prove my worth to Elion; my father.
But the nights were far too long. Tormented by boredom I would drift into wakeless slumber, arousing lucid dreams of a world that I had mastered; a place where I was no longer a mere victim of Elion’s mistakes.

PROLOGUE

More than three thousand years ago, I was betrayed by the one I loved; the one for whom I forfeited eternity. Beguiled by her innocence, I was led into captivity, forced to endure eons of darkness in joyless isolation.

My name was called Havvavhel, the destroying angel. I was believed to be Elion’s final creation. In the world below called Midbar, my name became known with infamy, borne of fables told beside firesides at eventide; legends—spun into myth and solemn song.

But far beyond the stars was I damned to wander alone; the emptiness of the celestial plane eventually becoming my home. There I spent my time; star systems away from the warmth of heaven. I waited silently in patience for my next assignment from the high court; my only desire was to prove my worth to Elion; my father.

But the nights were far too long. Tormented by boredom I would drift into wakeless slumber, arousing lucid dreams of a world that I had mastered; a place where I was no longer a mere victim of Elion’s mistakes.

Then began the days of anarcheon: the thousand year war. Midbar became the battlefront between the forces of order and chaos and my utility increased manifold.

Through it all, though I faltered in the ruminations of my lonely heart, I held onto hope—believing that Elion would save me from myself. But along the way I lost my faith in the everlasting solitude. And I was left to wonder—ever coming undone at the seams.

In the end I gave in, succumbing to the throes of exile; my hope eclipsed by profound sadness. Then at long last, I was commissioned to return to Midbar on heaven’s final request; a promise to the king of Antediluvia by Elion, fulfilled in me. On my way down, falling deeper within myself, I offered a solemn prayer in silence:

I have faced the emptiness within, the dark that fastened all my chains. Though I walk this path alone, I refuse to come undone.

So shelter me, for I am lost—and I have given you my all. Shelter me, lest I fall—under the burden of it all. There’s no disguise, I see your burning eyes—peering through me as I fight for one last time.

Shelter me; don’t let me go—I am with you after all.

 

 

 

 

Chapter I – A Betrayal

“It’s beautiful isn’t it?”

“Like a dream,” I solemnly replied as we stood in awe atop the balcony of marble stone, gazing into saturnine skies where two diverse planetary bodies converged in lunar harmony, myriad of leagues beyond the Nian Expanse.

Azaya stood beside me, her immaculate beauty immortalized in starlit mystery. Long auburn curls danced in the stormy ocean breeze, her bronze moon-kissed shoulders escaped the brim of her ashen gown, radiating in the afterglow.

Like destiny she fell into my arms, traversing my hands across her beating chest. Passionately she kissed my forearm as we faced the deep together; the sensation of her embrace ever longed.

“Time has kept its promise,” I said softly, “and has brought me home to you again. Many moons have come and gone oceans away from your tender embrace.”

“You’ve missed me many?”

“Like the rain misses the ocean,” I answered. “Vacant and unending were the days without you.”

Nestled in my arms, she stood swaying sensually in harmony with the waves of the ocean, her beautiful eyes sealed; her abysmal thoughts sinking to the bottom of the ocean floor. I held her close, hoping to bridge the time lost between us—for all the moons she counted in the absence of me.

“The nights were long without you, Havvavhel,” she whispered. As she leaned her head backwards, her bronze eyelids peeled unveiling the colors of the Nian Ocean; a surreal fusion of azure and cerulean. Once again, my somber heart surrendered, ensnared by the alluring beauty of her gaze.

She performed a single pivot—now her soft breasts pressed against me; her cool breath ever inviting. With each inhale she pulled me in as the colors began to fade. Her delicate lips tasted of melon and honey; her careless whispers lulling the roaring waves. The days hinder were filled with none but violence and warring; here in the arms of solace, I found refuge.

“Would you like to go inside?” I asked as her lips reluctantly left mine. She lowered her gaze, her left hand tardily descending from my shoulder; her fingers aimlessly tracing over the esoteric markings that formed strange symbols on my chest.

“Not yet,” she answered regretfully, drifting into the unknown as she mused over the strange runes; spirited eyes now shadowed by melancholy.

“Why is there mourning in your eyes, my love?” I placed my hand under her chin, gently lifting her head. But overcome by emotion she pulled away, burying her face in the bosom of my chest. The fountains of her laden soul erupted; seething me in streams of agony as I stood confounded, petrified by the sound of her muffled cries.

Dark fears surfaced from beneath the violent waves as my solemn gaze penetrated the waters of the deep. Lurid thoughts began to emerge from my clouded mind, conjured by the anguish in her voice; enabled by her words left unspoken.

Carefully I opened my wings, spreading them around her; forming a shelter from the vile tempest. If only swarthy feathers could mend her fractured soul, I thought. Though she trusted in my embrace, it felt as though we were standing oceans apart; miles of secrets separating.

I brushed my fingers through her hair, consoling her with all that I could. Her heavy sobbing had abated now; the only sound persisting apart from the brooding waves was the rivaled murmurs of anxious hearts. Eventually her soft voice escaped her trembling lips.

“Of all the woes I’ve known, the abandoning of my mother followed by her untimely death; even my exile from Esoteria, or the years of solitude I endured on the path of anarchy—here in this moment, sorrow overtakes me like never before.”

Finding the courage to lift her head, she searched deep within my somber soul, and I into hers.

“Guilt, regret—they mask the colors in your eyes. Your heart—it beats in sadness.” I gently stroked her tan cheek, carefully smearing a solitary tear. “Tell me what’s wrong.” But she shook her head in reply; affrighted.

“If I tell it all—will you ever forgive me?” Her lips trembled as lucid tears voyaged past them, plummeting into an abysmal void of self-loathing and shame—a boundless pit; the everlasting abode of her silhouetted mistakes.

She lowered her gaze again, avoiding my perusing eyes. Vulnerability snared her heart, rendering her a prisoner of discretion. And I was left to brave the unknown, desperately hoping that she would bare her burdened soul.

“You are all I have, Azaya; I love you with everything I am. There is no thing I will not forgive,” I promised. Under the shadow of my wings she waited, giving ear to faithful words; trying them in the iniquitous fires of betrayal.

“I have to leave, Havvavhel, alone—without you.” Her tone had suddenly changed; now sober and strong. “There is no other path for me.” She brushed through the shadowy feathers of my wings, forsaking my dark embrace.

“I don’t understand. Where are you going?” Confounded I lurched towards the maiden as my wings recoiled; her elegant bare feet drawing closer to the edge now.

“I go to Esoteria,” she answered discreetly, her blue eyes turning grey in the wasteful moonlight. I glinted out into the ocean, searching for an answer in the nothing, thrown by her resolve as she stood calm; her rueful gaze decrying hope itself.

“Azaya, I am stricken by the thought of losing you. Please—do not forsake me.” I folded both arms across my chest, surveying the dark panorama in a moment of reminiscence, hoping to decode an answer despite her vilifying prudence.

“Why do you have to leave, Azaya?” She flinched at the tone of my voice, startled by the frustration on which it was borne.

Reluctantly she walked over to me, breathing in the cold air of the briny deep; fortifying her emotions as truth moored on the shores of confession.

“My life has been an undying devotion to the chaos-flame, ever I were a child. I forfeited my autonomy years ago when I embraced anarchism, pledging allegiance to the order of chaos.” She placed each hand on adjacent shoulders, traversing her arms defensively, bowing her head therein.

“To stay here with you—is all I truly wanted. But there is no escaping what is to come. It has been destined by unhallowed providence.” She scoffed.

“If you stay, Azaya, no power on Midbar can take you away from me. Please—I am lost to dread alone without you.”

“I was naive to think that you could save me, Havvavhel; that somehow you could free me from this. I was mistaken—willfully blinded by love. . . My soul cannot be saved.

“After morning comes, when the sun takes its place in the midday sky,” solemnity possessed her tone, “Esoteria will fall. And when the black fires rise, I will revel in the midst of the flames—among the floating embers.

“Only ashes will remain, and the bane of Midbar will be remembered nevermore.” She took the time to catch her breath. “This is my final screed—for vengeance is the inception of justice.” She sighed with sorrow.

“Azaya, there is something you should know; about Esoteria—about your father,” I detoured hoping to dissuade her convictions.

“I know—he is the king of Esoteria.” She scoffed in disgust. “Therein lay my woes, borne of bad blood.” With her face turned towards the evanescent waves, she mooned as she bit her lower lip.

“I was abandoned in the Harshlands and left for dead; a secret decree sent forth to save the throne from impending disgrace. It was an effort by the king to hide the bastard princess from the eyes of Esoteria.

“My mother: the king’s mistress, was executed on the outskirts of Esoteria under the penalty of perjury. That was her reward for saving my life—for secretly offering me to the order of chaos.

“I would give everything to forsake this end, Havvavhel. Please forgive me, but I can’t forgive him now.” She covered vengeful eyes with hands of reprisal, concealing the hate trapped inside.

“If you’re going to do this, then I will go with you. And if you die, then I will die with you,” I solemnly pledged.

“No—you won’t.” Her soft voice broke from behind her cover as she stood motionless, stricken by the pangs of heartache. I lowered my head, harboring confusion; searching through a vivid sea of memories; seeking to make sense of it all.

“You don’t have to do this, Azaya,” I protested emotionally spent. Her quiet sobs emanated once more in the wake of my despair. “I won’t let you go, Azaya—I won’t!”

“It is too late,” she cried.

“It is not too late. We can forge our own path beneath these skies—just stay here with me—“

“Oh, but it is too late, destroying angel,” a malevolent and eerily familiar voice intruded from within the starlit atrium. Without forethought, I left Azaya standing on the balcony; marching into the open room to meet the adversary.

He stood motionless upon a large stone disk in the center of the room, shrouded in a drab, cloth hood; his form mystified in the augmented moonlight bleeding through a translucent caisson in the ceiling.

“The hour is past for desperate appeals, Havvavhel,” the hooded figure lectured as I presented myself before him in the luminescence. “The desolation of the allied kingdoms is nigh; the age of famine has come.”

“What makes you believe that I won’t make this place your final grave, Kabayo?” I threatened stretching forth my right hand, synthesizing a dark sword therein. “I won’t let you take her away from me.”

“You do not have a choice, fallen—keeper of the balance.” A wicked smile emerged from beneath his dusky hood; his wan visage ever mystified in shadow. “You have been a mere pawn in the hand of the artificers of chaos, Havvavhel.

“From the advent of your fall, to your hand in the desolation of Pithriom, even unto your covenant with my invaluable gemstone, Azaya; it was all carefully orchestrated—even up till this very moment. Esoteria will be erased by the arbiter of the chaos-flame; it is already decided.

“Moreover, your beloved city Antediluvia will fall by the wrath of the withering spirit—along with all the kingdoms that trusted in the hand of Elion. And from the fallout an empire shall ascend into the heavens on the wings of chaos, obscuring the light evermore; rendering Midbar the abode of darkness for all eternity.”

“I have done all that was required of me despite my hesitation,” I protested. “I have asked for nothing in return. My rightful reward is Azaya.”

“Your reward is to be a prisoner of the order until the end of time!” he sneered, foaming at the mouth; fiendish eyes glaring from below the silver-lined brim of his hood.

“I should have killed you a long time ago, pillarist.” I lifted a somber gaze. “But this time I won’t forbear.”

Before the mystic could utter a response, his breath was snuffed out by an unforgiving mist conjured from my hands. There he hung, suspended above ground, brooding profanities as his wretched life began to fade.

“Even if you take this life, morbid angel—even if you shatter this hollow soul—you will never have her!”

Incensed by his captious maundering and the hopelessness that with it was borne, I followed through with my fatal promise, violently burying my blade in the center of his chest without, piercing through fetid blood and brawn.

In the dreamy silence his lifeless body hung; an aerial fountain of blood, pouring into the esoteric carvings of the stone disk in the ground. As tortuous streams of vermillion formed arcane symbols in the grooves of the giant circle, I discerned Azaya’s footsteps venturing past the second threshold before coming to a sudden halt.

“Do you see now my dear, Azaya?” Kabayo coughed before endless wheezing ensued. “There is—a second heartbeat—after death!” The cadaverous pilgrim remained suspended in midair; the butt of my blade still protruding from his chest.

Enraged by the unrivaled obstinacy of Azaya’s master, I elevated my right hand, ruthlessly driving the animated corpse across the room. His body violently collided with the northern wall; my massive blade causing his chest cavity to cave in completely.

As my sword disengaged, he fell to the floor, groveling in defeat and heaving incessantly.

Suddenly from nothing, unworldly vibrations began to emanate, resonating throughout the atrium, warping the fabric of the corporeal world; obscuring even the light from above.

“The eternal symmetry of order and chaos, how is this possible?” I maundered in bewilderment.

“Welcome to the edge of chaos, Havvavhel; your everlasting abode.” Maniacal laughter erupted from the dark mystic before the argent vibrations now pervading the atmosphere began distorting the dark sound; bending his diabolic intonations.

With eyes of confusion, I witnessed the haunting regeneration of his deformed body, once wounded and broken. Finally Azaya came and stood beside him, her dejected visage painted with the sullen colors of betrayal.

“Tell him what you’ve done, Azaya,” Kabayo commanded as he stood beside my wife.

“Please—don’t,” she pleaded casting a trepid glance at her master as he drew his black hood, concealing his bloodless face once more.

“What is done is done, my child. Embrace the path of apatheia now—even as I have taught you, and let regret die here.” He turned towards me now, menacing eyes reaming through my feigned defenses; unearthing my darkest fears.

“Are you alarmed, Havvavhel?” he taunted as he quickly approached. Vexed, I stretched forth my hand again, violently apprehending him by the force of my chaokinesis, but he withstood the gravity of my power as I moiled to crush his heart.

“Oh angel of destruction, can you not discern that you attempt to tromp a god?” he railed. With groans of agony the rogue lurched towards me, rigorously fighting against my dark magnetism.

“For all that you have razed, for all those who revere you as a prodigious god, oh angel of death—I am become your victor!”

“You cannot defeat me. I will make this temple your grave!” I retorted.

“It already is, you sluggard. And I already have.”

In that moment I broke his diabolic defenses, manifesting a greater sword in my right hand, tearing through the hindering vibrations in the air as my assault unfolded. Narrowly escaping the madness, he fled past the threshold, diving into open water. But as I gave chase, I collided with an otherworldly barrier, preventing me from leaving the atrium. And I was left astonished.

“The pattern on your breast is the enigmatic symbol of the chaos wheel,” he uttered as he began his ascension from the deep. “It is the formula for building a simulation of the chaotic balance; a prison between order and chaos. You are trapped here for all of eternity—even as the fourfold pendulum swings—outlining all the paths of chaos.

“I would prefer that this was all my doing. Know that I am but a humble emissary of chaos. The true artificers are the four archetypes themselves, and soon they will inherit all of Midbar.” He alighted upon the balcony, drenched in the tears of the ocean, displaying large ravenous wings.

“Nevertheless, this is my consolation—for all that you have taken from me.” His tone was borne of hatred. “Behold me now, Havvahel, for I am the dark pillager of hope—I am your reckoning.” His wicked gaze pierced right through me as he stood in the glory of the moons, casting shadows on my world. And I fell to my knees; defeated.

“Forgive me, my love,” Azaya whispered as she appeared beside him on the far side of the chaos field; her sorrowful eyes beholding mine. “Nothing could have changed this end—please believe me, I’ve tried.”

“Save your empty words, Azaya. They have lost their meaning.”

“Goodbye then, Havvavhel.” And with her in his arms they flew away.

Far across the emptiness they journeyed the night, vanishing beyond the nothing. And I was left in the place that I had longed to call home; abandoned forevermore.

 

 

Chapter II - Fallen

Into the dawning ether on fallen wings I fled, my heart beclouded by an insufferable sense of foreboding. It was seven months before Azaya’s betrayal in the isles of Nivmir; the very day that I first met her. The dark twilit tapestry hung across the great expanse romanticizing a portrayal of smoke and fire.

Hope was fading fast beneath the saturnine skies of Midbar. The heavenly court of Elion had aforetime decreed that no grace would be measured to the fallen; only condemnation. Yet I fell for her, heedless of the temporality of a mortal life and of the fleeting fealty of their kind.

Here below, countless worlds away from home, radiant memories of eternity converged into evanescent flashes of starless, abysmal resentment; all that was pure now tattered and jaded.

Rumors of a rewarding existence far away from holy circumscription had made prodigals of lustful angelic souls. Even in the heavenly sanctum, the conversations were borne of envy; their blasphemous queries unending.

Why should mortal man forged from the mire, volatile and frail exult in pleasures forbidden to those his superiors?”  I recalled.

Insatiable eyes were ever open to the entrancing temptations below; the maidens that beckoned to the heavens, unveiled beside the crystal waters of Meridia, dancing in the fountains of Epistolaria and upon the rooftops of Midbar.

Some would rather choose death than to face forever alone. But death was not afforded to the empyreans; angels of the ninth echelon. Their condescension therefore was inevitable.

In those days long gone, the clouds became pillars of smoke. The stars above collided, creating celestial cataclysms, gendering supernal storms, raining fire from above in the form of godlike beings; scorching Midbar below.

I was charged with ending the angelic insurrection; a divine edict far too burdensome for one to bear alone. Nevertheless, with wrath borne of heavenly decree, I littered the prisons of the lower world with my fallen comrades; binding them all in the darkness with the seals of chaos.

But amongst the sapient and simple men alike, pernicious tales of the dethroning of Elion by Anarchiel pervaded, carried throughout Midbar on serpentine tongues and in the secrets of the wind.

Total dominion loomed over baleful horizons as angels continued to fall. Among the inhabitants of Midbar, the hope for salvation began to fade. The kingdom of Pithriom had become the abode of the fallen; a city of devils and a dread to all of Midbar.

But desolation had been pronounced against that kingdom and I alone was burdened to lead the ancient city of Antediluvia into a final battle against them.

It was there in the great city where I first saw her: Azaya, a prisoner of Antediluvia. When the dust had settled, the kingdom of Pithriom was rendered desolate and the remnants of their ruin lingered over the western realm; a perpetual reminder of judgment.

But instead of returning to Antediluvia, I fled eastbound as the day star began to rise, soaring across the Sea of Min, pursuing a burning light flickering in the distance. Finally I alighted upon the plateaus of Eramos in the heart of the desert. And in the somber distance she was found, aimlessly wandering through the twilit sands, immersed in dark flames; incandescent.

From the heights of the rocky summit I stood marveling at the flare-mantled maiden when suddenly she collapsed. In silence I looked on as men garbed in hooded robes emerged from behind stone pillars, quickly retrieving the damsel before vanishing over the dusty mountains.

All of a sudden, another burning light appeared in the sullen sky, approaching fast. A dampened boom was heard at the point of impact, followed by a howling blast as a billowing cloud of sand washed over the desert.

After acknowledging the fall, I refocused on my pursuit, jetting across the desert; sailing past the peculiar assemblage of stone pillars. Over the dusty mountain, a vast city unfurled, nestled in the sandy vale. And I watched as they escorted the maiden through a giant iron gate.

“Oh Havvavhel, how the treasures of Midbar have subverted your soul,” a mighty voice uttered hinder. Turning about, my gaze fell upon the marvelous entity, an angelic judge of the high courts of Elion. His eyes were a translucent gold, even as his flowing hair and mighty beard.

“I beheld your fall from heaven—I watched as you passed through the dark veil, yet you bear no markings upon you.” I synthesized my blade in an instant. “Are you sent by him to arrest me?” I asked lifting cautious eyes in search of his garrison.

“No, I am not.” He cast a sinister glance over to the city in the sand, the rising sun magnifying the beauty of his eyes. “I am come to destroy this city; to bury it forever beneath these sands.”

“What have they done?”

“Conspiracy against heaven is the charge—desolation, the judgment.” He turned towards the sun-kissed city now. “Behold the wrath of Elio—“

My dark sword connected with is jaw, hurling him across the desert.

“I cannot let you do this! Not yet,” I said as the sole of my right foot alighted upon his chest midflight while he toured across the dusty skies, recovering from my assault.

“I will stop at nothing until Elion’s will is accomplished,” he promised, causing me to strike him down from the air in rage.

“I will not allow it!” As the words escaped my lips, a chaotic vortex appeared in the sand beneath him, viciously spiraling downward as I began to tear a hole in the fabric of Midbar, conjuring an obsidian gate; a doorway to the lower world.

“You’ve spared the angels worthy of this wretched fate, but without hesitation, you condemn the innocent,” he shouted as the dark spiral began dragging him beneath.

“There is no proof of your innocence, only empty words.” He scoffed in reply. I swooped down, grabbing the locks of his hair as his maundering ensued.

“As you fall further away from heaven’s grace—with every mortal breath; remember me, and the woes that you have chosen. The end is nigh, Havvavhel; the throes of Midbar await your cries.”

“Goodbye, Gremaiah.” I looked on in sorrow as the darkness pulled him under and he vanished into the abyss.

Through the tan, coarse-grained sand my fated footsteps tread, bound towards the city in the dust. With wings retracted, I appeared as a man in the shadow of the colossal curtain wall; one of the four that made the mystic city a fortress.

“Outsiders are not welcomed here, fallen one,” a hooded man orated from the crown of the northern flanking tower, beside the gatehouse. “You may only enter as our prisoner.” And as his words were carried in the wind, a legion of archers appeared atop the towering walls, peering down on me with dark arrows ready, in unison.

Suddenly, loud clanking breached the tension as giant metal gears began laboriously toiling, rolling away the enormous gate, revealing five shrouded soldiers standing guard. Into the large portcullis I ventured, being ushered into darkness as a veil was immediately thrown over my head, and shackles fastened to my hands and feet by callous hands.

“We beheld your descent only moments ago,” their captain said. What is it you seek behind these walls, maidens?”

“It was another that your eyes perceived; a judge of the sanctum. He was sent from above to destroy this city. I overturned that edict by burying him beneath the sands.”

“And your—proof of this?” he asked in distrust.

“If you so desire proof, then remove these fetters—and I will drag your feeble soul to the place where he now mourns,” I solemnly replied. The men erupted in spirited laughter, clapping their hands; amused by my threatening words.

“I like him, he has heart,” said another, “or is it ignorance?”

“What is your name, mysterious one, and what do you seek?” the leader asked resuming his perusing.

“I am called the dark one.” I veiled my answer with discretion, mindful of the ill fame that with it was borne.

“Keep your silence then, dark angel; we are not people untried in the wiles of the fallen. Sobriquets and vague language will only serve as a prelude to your inevitable obeisance.”

“Do you have—proof of that?” I mocked.

“Take him to the bastille.” He scoffed. “Send scouts into the desert to see if there be any merit to his words.” If not, dark angel, know that there are more enticing methods to bring truth to your lips.”

As two rugged soldiers arrested me, my ears were inclined to a large metal door in the ground being heaved open by chains. Still blinded, I was led down an endless flight of stairs, deep into a subterranean prison. The air was thin here and a fetid odor lashed out in fury, bringing tears to the soldier’s eyes as they hastened past bestial growls and serpentine shrills.

“You should not have come here, fallen one; you’ll never leave this place,” an old prisoner said as we journeyed down a narrow corridor.

“What is this place?” I asked as the cloth covering was violently lifted from my eyes.

“This is the Pit of Turiah; the place where fallen offspring come to die—and where mortal men become gods.”

“So this is Turiah,” I said in retrospect, gaping down into bottomless darkness.

“You’ve heard of its legend?”

“The infamy of it has been echoed in the chambers of heaven—the ‘Odium of Turiah,’ they say.” I scoffed. “This is why your city is under judgment.”

“Save your forebodings, fallen angel; destruction is far from us. Elion himself would forbid it,” he boasted as I was ushered into a small prison cell; confused by his beliefs.

Caged inside the small room I was left to wait in darkness. The walls stood close, preventing me from lying down. I sat on the stone ground absorbing the harrowing shrieks of faceless voices echoing in the distant shadows; creatures born of fallen blood.

Here below, there was neither night nor day; only gross darkness. Why did I allow myself to endure this? I pondered growing weary of waiting for the soldiers to return. Here I am alone, still I feel comforted; away from heavens eyes.

Maybe it’s not too late for me to return. I was misguided in sparing my brothers from judgment. Surely there is absolution for me—if only I could find the strength to follow through. Oh how I am straightened and falling from grace.

And why does my heart succumb to her tender flame? Why can’t I ignore the desire to know her name—to hear her words; to feel the warmth of her embrace? Have I fallen so far that I cannot escape these devices? I suffered myself in anguish passing my time in sorrow.

With eyes closed I rose to my feet, breaking both fetters. This guilt overwhelms me. But I will not succumb to this! I swore an oath unto myself, forsaking the inborne impulse to swear by Elion; a fault of my unstable mind.

In that moment, a flame appeared in the dreary distance, inciting uproar among the prisoners as it zoomed past fiendish captives and nameless things; restless spirits of the unseen world. Finally a guard, I thought plotting to take him captive in my disquietude.

But as I tore the cell gate from callous walls, tossing it aside, the startled gasp of a maiden escaped the dim lit hall amidst the clattering noises and harrowing cries. Suddenly the torch came to a lurching crawl in the distance as the ardent flame granted revelation.

I stood at the edge of the lightless hall vestured in darkness. Her eyes could not yet perceive me, but I saw her—and my heart became as stone. Her beautiful eyes were a misty cerulean blue, her bronze skin glowing in the soft light of the flame as if it were kissed by the sun.

“This is no place for you, princess,” I said softly, careful not to startle her. She lurched towards me, her hand engulfed in fire, lighting the way.

“I came here just to find you.” She glinted down into the abyss in the center of the prison. “I don’t understand, why would you allow them to bring you here—to this place?”

“Tell me—what is your name?” I asked, evading her question.

“My name is Azaya.” She blushed before flinching at the sound of an earsplitting shrill that shattered the moment as it ascended from the bottomless pit. “Something wicked is coming. Shadow me; I can lead you out.”

Through the blackened corridors we made our escape, pestered by malevolent shadows imprisoned by the witching hands of men. As we ascended a tortuous concrete stairwell, the grating screeches of the chaosfiend erupted behind us followed by the slithering hushes of its crawl.

“What is that?” shouted Azaya as we climbed.

“It’s the cry of a lokrien. They are the dream eaters of the lower world; they prevent awakened souls from ascending. I’ve never seen one on Midbar before.”

“A lokrien, that doesn’t sound frightening at all. Some believe that the pit behind us leads into the underworld. Perhaps it—crawled out.”

“I know it did,” I said as we journeyed through the dark.

She was panting incessantly now. “The air—is so thin here.” She gasped, taking one last breath before collapsing, falling through a breach in the landing.

The maiden crashed unto the stairs below; comatose. Alighting beside the damsel, I took her in my arms, spreading giant wings in the air when suddenly the fiend appeared before me in poised flight; beady eyes beholding the sleeping girl; waiting for her soul.

“You cannot have her!” I stretched forth my right hand. The giant worm wriggled and contorted before me in agony, showing its endless rows of jagged teeth as I subdued it there; stealing its life in my fury.

Overcome by my power, it began its lifeless descent back into the chaosvale. As it fell in morbid silence, I ascended with Azaya in my arms, tearing a gaping hole through the upper surface of the prison, finally bursting unto a dusty courtyard in the presence of many startled witnesses.

“Please, I know not how to wake her,” I pleaded in fearful desperation; dreading her life to fade. Without warning dark flames engulfed the maiden as she hung in my hands. And in that moment, the guards emerged from the passage ways, breaking through the midnight crowds.

“He has stolen the arbiter of the chaos flame!” one of the mighty troops sounded, causing the archers atop the surrounding battlements to take aim. “Erase him!” he commanded as I voiced my appeal in vain.

As the civilians scampered to safety, I hunkered down in defense, keeping Azaya close while she burned. My somber wings formed a fortress as the missiles of Turiah rained down upon us beneath the black desert sky.

“How is this possible?” I muttered in confusion rising to sturdy feet again as the first assault resolved and I emerged wounded; broken arrows still caught in the holes that they made in my wings.  

“This time, we bathe the sand with angel’s blood!” The captain of the troop sounded; his coarse voice shadowed by the swift formation of his subordinates.

“Please, let me explain.”

“Save your pitiful bleating, fallen one; here you won’t find kindness.”

As his callous words echoed into the ether, hatred unparalleled began its ascension within my darkened mind. I surveyed the hostile landscape; the chaotic murmurs of my anxious heart ever increasing. With unforgiving eyes I censured them all: wretched and vile—undeserving of life.

The cataracts of bedlam eclipsed my eyes as I entered into a maddened state. My elevated hand became the wellspring of death as a dark mist radiated from my palm, violently separating the souls of my adversaries from their mortal vessels.

An eerie chorus of anguish ensued as the ghosts of the vanquished were dragged below by an unworldly force. Suddenly the heartrending cries of a mother erupted, shattering the funereal silence.

Under hopeless skies she mourned in the distance, cradling a young boy in trembling arms; his innocent life snuffed out. I beheld her grief with thoughts of remorse as I became the guilty. Suddenly the ground beneath me began to quake as the cavalry of Turiah descended on the massacre.

In that moment Azaya awoke; the torrid flame that enveloped her growing more fervent now. Slowly, she climbed down from my arms, only to stand motionless before me like an idle flame.

I called out to her, but she did not answer; her mind seemingly lost in the blaze. Without warning, the fires expanded sending a heatwave through the atmosphere. Reluctantly, I tried to quench the flames with my power, but the fires only raged in response.

“She is the arbiter of the chaos-flame, Havvavhel,” the King of Turiah shouted as he approached on his mighty steed. “The art of chaokinesis will only fuel her fire.” He dismounted now, cautiously approaching the burning damsel.

“You’ve robbed my men of their futures. You’ve made widows of faithful women and rendered their children fatherless.” He turned to the weeping woman in the distance. “You’ve even robbed Turiah of innocent life. Is this what the sword of Elion has become, a cold-hearted murderer?”

“It was not my will.” I solemnly answered.

“You may not recognize me Havvavhel, but I was there when you came to Antediluvia. She was also there.” He reached into his armor below his vesture and pulled out a crystal pendant. “This is the shepherd’s stone. It can save her from this path of destruction.

“But I will only do so—if you leave,” he bargained. Return to the one who made you and find absolution; this is my only request. As for Azaya: she is my prisoner. I will keep her from fading.”

Reluctantly, I obliged, only turning to behold Azaya one final time. With broken wings, I ascended into the night.

 


Submitted: May 25, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Misha Grey. All rights reserved.

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