?In The Land Above The Clouds, Heaven?
“Hmm...So I'm the only one left huh? Well, I had a feeling it might come to this.” a calming voice spoke out amidst the silent halls.
“Symphonia, Iacio, Lamina, Bacullum, Bellum, Falce, Phaeretra, Manus and Rosa. Nine angels down and I'm all that remains to take on that human child.” His footsteps echoed through the halls as the angel continued to think to himself. His medium blonde hair flowed in the wind and his black eyes gave off a peaceful flare.
“It's about time Korbin learned the truth anyways. Might as well be from my mouth, as one who is closest to him.” With a mysterious sentence left in the skies, the angel descended down gracefully to Mid Land with a clear destination in mind.
?Mid Land, Earth?
I stared at the gloves on the table remembering with clear distinction, of what Rosa told me the other day.
“Those gloves, were forged in the flames of Hell. They weren't some byproduct my in your plane. Those gloves were forged in Hell.”
She...Can't be right can she? But it would explain the sudden burst of power, energy, strength, almost everything. How was I able to find these gloves so easily if they were truly forged in Hell? In fact, why were they even available in that shop? I'm one angel feather away from finally finishing my goal and yet I have more questions than answers right at the end! Just what can I...
“Wait! I'll just go revisit that store!” Grabbing the gloves I ran in the direction of where I found that store. I know it's somewhere nearby! My answers should be there!
Opening the door to the store it's as quiet and lonely as it was a few months ago. Silent and seemingly empty. I looked for those beads that hung in place of a door. I think I remember it being in the back of the store. I carefully walked through the pawn store. The cashier, still had the rust stains on it and the masks and objects still lined the walls and shelves. Reaching the back of the store, I couldn't seem to find the bead door anywhere.
“I could have sworn it was here! This store, it's definitely the same one but...The path is gone.”
The way to the weapons is gone and that person...Gone as well. It's as if their entire being has been wiped off the planet. Now I have no more place to find my answers. The truth behind these gloves...
I walked outside of the store and as I turned around, a calm voice penetrated my ears.
“Didn't find what you're looking for?” I turned quickly to view a blonde boy staring at me. He looked young in age, around my age perhaps and his eyes were a deep black. His outfit is the easily noticeable angel's robe.
“Don't look so stiff, I want to talk first. My names Sai by the way.” I exhaled my held breathe and tried to relax my body.
“What is it you want to talk about?”
“Quiet a few things we could. The murder of nine of my kin. The death of your beloved. The sad, sad, sacrifice of the selfless Bell. The truth behind those gloves of yours. There's so much I don't know WHERE to start really.” His smile was genuine but clear malice was at the root of it.
“I don't need to know about what I already know about so-”
“Question is though Korbin. How much do you know? What is true? What is a lie? Who is dealing your deck of cards and are you just the joker in it all?”
“Enough with the riddles!” I just want to know what he has to say!
“Hmph. Fine. About those gloves.” He pointed at my pocket where the gloves are. “Just like Rosa had told you, those gloves are indeed a product of Hell. In case you're for some reason not aware, Heaven and Hell haven't exactly been on the best terms really. But, we're placed at an equilibrium in life.”
“Equilibrium? Like a cycle of peace?”
“Peace isn't the best word but cycle is on the right track. The weapons produced in Heaven can exterminate devils, likewise, the weapons produced in Hell can exterminate angels. It's a constant equilibrium. No one is stronger than the other and then there's human. Right in the middle. You have religions that worship each side but those don't really matter. Humans can never really see or find angels and demons blend themselves into human culture. Humans are left unaware, angels and devils in a constant loop of equal power.”
“So what does that have do with my gloves?”
“I'm getting to that. With humans unaware, they were never in the way. Angels and Devils could battle tirelessly and constantly at any point. With the Life Containment Field it made restoration efforts easy. Then suddenly comes along a boy who decides he's going to kill angels to bring his loved one back to life. And suddenly, the power struggle is broken. Those gloves, were most likely given to you by a devil to help break the power struggle of Devils and Angels.”
“Nothing to say? Good. Then I'll continue.” I can only stand here and listen. The truth is, I have no reason to not believe him. It's entirely true. The fact these gloves are made in Hell and give me some sort of power can't be overlooked. It makes total sense if a devil gave them to me to help break the power struggle between the worlds.
“Now let me tell you something...I haven't told anyone except for our High Arch Angel, so do listen well. I was once a human.”
“I said to listen. I was once a human boy. It was probably sometime years ago, or maybe longer...I don't quite remember anymore. My girlfriend at the time, well, it would be better to call her my fiance, was murdered. After we split up one night to go to our homes, she was killed by some person. The trial went nowhere and the killer was never found or convicted. I was heartbroken. In a way our situations are quite similar.”
“Similar? It does...Sounds alike.”
“Quite. So there I was wallowing away everyday regretting leaving her alone. I decided I wanted her back. I decided she was taken wrongly from this world. I wanted to bring her back from the dead.”
“That's exactly like what I'm doing!”
“Exactly. So then I happened to stumble upon this ancient tome. This tome told me a way to bring her back. This is where it gets interesting though. It told me to kill ten devils. To collect a drop of their blood and collect it together and that would revive my fallen loved one. Of course I believed it. I believed anything that would help me bring her back!”
“Ten devils...Not angels?”
“Exactly. So then you could imagine my reaction to finding out some human began killing angels for their feathers and the Drops of Life that excreted from them.”
“Did it ever work?” He looked at me with half closed eyes that seemed empty and shallow.
“No...No it didn't. When I finally killed the tenth devil I was excited. I combined the final drop of blood and went back to her grave. Sadly, I found out a little too late...”
“What did you find out?”
“That whole process, killing ten devils, wasn't to bring back the dead but a ritual. A ritual to change myself.”
“Yes. It changed me. As you see me now. It turned me into an angel. I lost my humanity, my fiance forever dead and I became an angel. I watched you. I watched your battles. I watched your own changes. I thought to myself. 'If I killed devils and became an angel, if he's killing angels what will he become'. And the answer soon became very clear to me.”
“...What did you come up with?”
“If I killed devils and became an angel. Then you killed angels...Will make you a DEVIL. A Demon of Hell. That's the conclusion I came to.”
“I don't believe you! I-I can't! I read a tome too and it told me killing ten angels will bring Celina back! I've gone so far now, it can't be wrong!”
“Open your EYES for once! Your gloves are products of Hell, your eyes have changed to crimson red and you get unnatural power from your hatred because of the gloves! It's bloody obvious! Here I am, the last angel you need and I'm standing here talking with you! Giving you my past and my experiences! We're the same! We're alike! Don't you get it?!”
“Of course I get it!! I'm not stupid! I just...I can't accept it! I've come so far! I can't let it all go to waste! The danger I placed on Taylor, the pain of losing Celina and the regret of failing Bell! I can't act like it all never happened! If I didn't go along with this right at the END who am I?! Who does that make me?! What does it make me!?”
“It makes you a damn fool Korbin! Are you willing to give up your humanity, the last shred of humanity you have remaining to believe in some book that might not even bring back your precious Celina? LOOK AT ME KORBIN! I'm an angel now because I killed devils, it's purely logical you'll become a devil if you kill me! You can end it now! I won't even attack you if you just say you'll stop here!”
I clutched my fists and bite my lip. “I know this could be the wrong path.” I reached into my pocket and grabbed the gloves. “I know this could make me a devil.” I put on the left glove. “I know this might not even work in the end...” I put on the right glove. “BUT I HAVE TO FINISH WHAT I'VE STARTED!”
Sai punched me square across the face hard enough that I fell to the ground.
“Korbin you're a damn fool! A bigger fool than me! A bigger fool than the human population!! I tried to warn you! I was even being considerate and telling you my story so you'll understand better!! Are you really ok with abandoning your humanity?!”
I looked at Sai. He was visually upset yet at the same time...He looked rather melancholic for an angel. I forced a soft faint smile.
“I've lost my humanity the first time I killed Symphonia. And my dad once told me...If I don't try, I'll never know! So even if our situations are nearly identical there is still a chance that Celina might come back! I'm sorry Sai, you're a really kind angel but I can't stop here. I can't forgo everything I've done till now.”
Sai sighed deeply. “Fine. Have it your way. But don't say I didn't warn you.”
“I won't...Thank you Sai.”
“Hmph. Life Containment Field...Activate.” The final battle...Begins now.
I stood back up, my final resolve set and my mind clear. Devils, angels, I don't care anymore! I just want Celina back! Sai placed his right arm out, his palm facing me. Suddenly pressure, highly condensed, forced me to my chest on the ground. The ground fractured upon the pressure. Ghh!
“I never did mention my ability did I Korbin? Then allow me to tell you, it's Gravity. I didn't need weapons like those other angels, perhaps it was when I killed the demons but upon becoming an angel I awakened an inner power and that power is control of gravity.”
Damn it, gravity?! How do I counter than? Can it even be countered? Damn it, damn it! I placed my palms against the ground and applied energy to help me get up at least. The pressure...It's like try to push up after having a steel cube drop on your body!
“Trying to get up?” He raised out his other hand and the pressure intensified again. “I can simply crush you with the gravity right now but all I have to do is keep you down.”
“D...Don't make a fool of me!”
“Ironic to hear that from the biggest fool!” He walked up and kicked me in the head with his boots. I could do nothing. My head hurts like hell! Damn him! I just need to beat him! JUST ONE MORE ANGEL! I thought of hateful things. Bell's death, Taylor's torture, the angels treatment, the angels attacks, Celina's death. If I can use this hatred...The gloves emitted a red glow, energy seemed to flow into my body. The pressure felt weaker yet still strong enough to keep me on my knees. But at least I stood up now!
“Tch. This won't help you!” He raised his hands up into the sky. I felt the pressure loosen but that's not all. He used anti gravity to lift me up. He flicked his arms to the side and my body flew with his commands. SMASH! My body collided into the brick buildings of the street. The gravity control, removing me from the rubble, he then slammed be back against the ground.
“Kahauck!” I cough violently.
“Still concious? Guess if you were able to beat nine angels you wouldn't go down this easy.” Damn it I'm so close! I can't give up here! I picked up a shard of glass from the shattered buildings window and held it tight in my palm, hiding it behind my back. It's all I have I could use. I collected the energy that was at my fists to my feet, giving me better way to stand up. I slowly attempted to walk towards him.
“I'm amazed you can even stand up. Without those gloves you'd be crushed already.”
I didn't respond. I focused on getting closer to him. I felt the bones in my legs cracking and shifting. I don't care. I have a goal. And I need to kill him!! I could feel a burning sensation in my eyes. With a sudden charge of energy, my body propelled itself towards him. Outside of the gravity field, I took out the shard of glass and slashed his eyes from right to left.
“GYAAAH!!” He shouted bloody murder. His eyesight, slashed with this shard of glass. Not being able to see me, who won't know where to place a gravity field. Sai was holding his face with both hands, I could see blood trailing down his face and in between his fingers. I'm sorry Sai. But I have to finish.
“I'm sorry Sai...” I felt I should actually apologize to him. He gave me a chance and even told me a possible fate.
“You...Gh...For some reason I can't find myself too mad at you. Listen Korbin...Even if you finish your quest. You really might not even see Celina...”
“I know this...I do! I-I can't give up. I'm sorry, I really am.” I walked right next to him and placed my hands on his shoulders. His body loosened up and seemed to have lost a reason to continue.
“I can't see Korbin. It's very dark. Do me a favor...And end it quickly?” Again...Another angel asking for me to kill him. A part of me hurts, in pain, not from the wounds he inflicted on me. But in my heart. It feels wrong. It feels horrible now.
“I will...Thank you Sai.” With my final goodbyes to the last angel that I need. I placed my hands on opposite sides of his head and quickly snapped his neck. His body dropped like a block of lead. Quick. Swift. Just like he asked. I plucked the final feather needed, from his wings. The last time I'll see this, a streak of light pierced down from the heavens and sucked up Sai's body. Leaving nothing but light particles. The Life Containment Field vanished and the world around me restored to normal.
At home I grabbed the bag of feathers and laid them out in a circle.
“Symphonia, Iacio, Lamina, Bacullum, Bell, Falce, Pharetra, Rosa and lastly Sai. Ten angels, Ten feathers.” The feathers as if noticing the presence of the others, spiraled into the air. Spinning rapidly I could notice drops of liquid leaving the bone of the feathers. They spun and spun until a small ball of liquid was formed. I grabbed a tube beaker I had prepared for this moment and the liquid gracefully filled up into the beaker. The feathers then fell to the ground, lifeless. Corking the beaker shut I stared at it. A sparkling liquid. Seemingly glittering. This is it...
“The Water of Life.” Now that I have the Water of Life, I can finally bring back Celina. Or...Become a Devil. It's a gamble I need to take. It's my final gambit. I placed the beaker into my pocket and opened my door ready to leave.
“Ouch!” A cute voice reacted to me opening the door.
“Hi! I, uhm, I overheard you from behind the door. I wanted to see if you were okay but then it felt like I'd be interrupting you.”
“It's fine Taylor. I finally finished it. I killed ten angels and received the Water of Life. Now I just need to revive Celina.”
“I see. Can I come?” Well, I did expose her to a lot of dangers so it's only fair...
“Where are we going anyways?”
“To where my journey first started. The Cemetery.”
“Do you know what you have to do with the Water?”
“To be honest...Not really. I stopped reading the book that told me right after it told me how to bring the dead back.” Curse my rashness.
I walked around the Cemetery, as if expecting something to happen. I viewed the different gravestones and all the different names.
“You know Taylor. This is where I killed the first angel. To think, I'd end up back at he beginning like this. It's a little nostalgic.”
“I guess if you did start a big journey in a location and then end up back at that location you'd feel that way.” She seems very calm about this. What a strong girl she is.
I walked to a certain gravestone. A very particular gravestone.
“Right. It's Celina's. Celina Valentia. My murdered girlfriend.” Perhaps...If I pour the Water of Life on her grave then?
“Taylor step back.” She nodded and stepped back. I reached for the beaker containing my dire efforts and popped the cork off. I aimed it above the grave. Inhaling deeply and then exhaling deeply.
“This is it. This will determine my future.”
I turned the beaker upside down and the sparkling liquid fell onto the grave of my deceased love. The liquid phased into the ground. For a while...Nothing happened. Did I make a mistake? Did I waste my efforts? Did I kill angels for nothing? I was about to curse the world, then I heard Taylor shout.
“Korbin, the sky!” I looked up quickly to notice the clouds were separating and a hole within the clouds is clearly visible. Once the clouds stopped moving as if they were alive, a heavenly light opened up from the space and descended towards to earth. The location? In front of me. On Celina's grave.
There, descended a beautiful woman. An angel. Long brown flowing hair, gentle, caring blue eyes. What she her apart from the other angels I've met. Well, there's a few point. She has six wings, three on each side. Two Halo's, one big one and a smaller normal sized one below it. And the last point...
“What?” I heard Taylor behind me with as much question as I.
This angel! It's Celina! There's no doubt! But...I don't get it. She's supposed to be back to life, not still dead and an angel at that?!
“Korbin...” she spoke gently and with the same caring voice I nearly forgot. I was forced to tears. Celina, is finally back with me but...Why is she an angel?!
“Celina...I don't get it. Why are you an angel?”
“You no doubt, have many questions Korbin. It's understandable. You've taken a big gamble with your life. So let me explain from the beginning. The very beginning.”
She sat on her own gravestone and looked at me with eyes as pure as God.
“When I was killed that night, I thought I was dead for good too. My soul as if, following a call, was sent straight to the Heavens. It was there, I met a man named Michael. Michael is the ruler of all the angels. He gave me an option. He told me 'I have potential to be one of the strongest angels.' at first, I was indeed confused. But then, I took up his offer. I was rewarded a title of Arch Angel. A higher angel.”
“You...Became an angel?”
“Yes, correct. Michael then told me I could watch Mid Land from the Heavens. My first thought, was watching you. To guide you from the Heavens to a peaceful life. But then, you were corrupted before I could give you guidance. I watched you murder our angels one by one. I thought there might have been hope for you, when you decided to protect that lady over there, or when you protected Bellum. Yet, you were far past the point of normal corruption. You began to convert.”
“Yes. I believe Sai told you, did he not? You began a grueling process of becoming a Devil. Korbin. You are no longer a human. You are a Devil. The ritual that tome told you, was not one to bring back the dead. It was, indeed as Sai had informed you, one to turn you into a Devil.”
“B...But that doesn't matter...Right? I mean, here you are! It clearly worked! We'll be together again and-”
“No. Korbin, we are no longer lovers. The day you killed your first angel, is the day we broke up. I no longer love a man who sold his soul to the Devil's work.”
“There is no joke.”
“Hard? Right. You worked hard to murder my family.”
“Do not worry. I will put you out of your misery right now.” I stared at Celina, she lifted her arm up and a spear formed out of light from her hand appeared.
“The Spear of Longinus. It can kill any Devil it pierces. Do not worry, I shall save your soul.” You're...Joking, please. A joke right? She lowered her arm and the Spear of Longinus aimed directly at my chest. With a flick of her wrist the Spear charged down at me. I guess...This is my end.
KACHINK! Kachink? What? I looked up to see Taylor standing in front of me. She looks...Different. Her blonde hair has turned into a lush green, two large bat-like wings spread from her back, a black tail with a heart shape on the end was now forming from her tailbone and she held a black rapier that shone with the same red energy my gloves emit.
“Hmph. Doing whatever you want Devil.” Celina responded. Wait, did she just call Taylor a devil?
“Sorry to deceive ya Korbin, but I am a devil. I've been following you this entire time. I can't have ya die now by this bitch’s hand!”
“You're a Devil?”
“Yeah, I am.” She flicked her wrist using the rapier to knock the spear away.”
“My, my, how troublesome you two Devil's are.”
“I don't get it...Celina's an Angel and Taylor's a Devil?”
“Come on Korbin, ya ain't this stupid I know! My Devil name is Arcana, but you can still call me Taylor if you want!”
“How dare you have the audacity to flirt in front of me!” Celina seemed angry.
“Hoo? But you abandoned this poor guy. And look at everything he's done for you. Angels are such meanies aren't they Korbin? Haha! And they call Devils evil! Pure irony!”
“Nonsense! We are Justice!” Celina screamed. I guess she doesn't like her position being questioned. I still find it hard to grasp all this...What was I working towards? What was my goal? Did my goal even exist?
“Don't be so down in the dumps Korbin. I have a gift for you!”
“That's right! You're going to be the King of the House of Arcana! In laymans terms, you're a High Class Devil King!”
“Me? A Devil King? But...”
“You ain't weak ya idiot! You're wonderful. Your feelings of hatred and betrayal are exactly what powers you to be so strong. You even defeated ten angels before awakening your true power.”
“Enough of this! I shall not allow a new Devil King to be born right in front of my eyes!” Celina formed the Spear of Longinus again and Arcana, er, Taylor, prepared her rapier for combat. Celina charged at Taylor using rapid stabs and slices to attack. Taylor, quick and nimble, dodged her efforts. She didn't even have to use the rapier!
“Tch! Little Devil, stop moving and accept your divine punishment!”
Taylor didn't respond. Her only answer was constant laughter. It's like Taylor is just using Celina as a toy for her boredom.
“Fine! If I can't hit you, I'll just go for him!” Celina then redirected her gaze to me. Taylor, too far away to reach me now showed legitimate worry on her face.
“Korbin!” she screamed.
“Die Korbin!” The Spear of Longinus is thrown at me. Should I die? Is it better for people if I do? It in a mere flash, my mind went black. I heard...Voices.
“For some reason I can't find myself too mad at you.”
“Do...n't cry. I...Want to thank you for everything you've done. For...Everything you've taught me...I...I think I know now...What it means to be human...”
“You can't die yet!”
Taylor...That's right. I can't die yet. It'd be horrible to stop now. I killed ten angels, Bell's Sacrifice, Sai's lament, everything. I can't die here. I can't!
I felt a powerful surge of pressure in my body. As if, my body is changing to my words. I screamed. Screaming in pain. Red aura flew from my body and the sheer force of it knock the Spear of Longinus away from me. I could feel a pain on my lower back. Something sprouting. I turned to see what's giving me such pain. A black tail protruded from my tailbone area just like Taylor's. Except I didn't have a heart shape end, it's an arrow shaped end. My head and back felt pressure as well. The same pain. More sprouting of limbs. My back split, I watched my skin split and see two black bat like wings sprout from by back.
“Ahaha! He's done it! Congratulations Korbin! You've awakened as a devil!”
“Curses! I didn't predict this. I can't face two devils alone, even with my current rank. I must retreat. Remember this Korbin, this isn't our last meeting. It's only just begun.” With a bold proposal and a disgusted face, Celina, my once beloved now angel converted ascended to the Heaven's and vanished.
“Korbin!” Taylor flew over and hugged me tightly.
“I knew you could do it if ya tried! Ohhh...Those are some nice wings ya got! I'm likin' the pointed canines too!” It feels...Comfortable hugging Taylor. It's probably since I've been with her this long. No...That's not all. My feelings have changed since I first began this journey.
“Taylor, you said you wanted me to be a High Class Devil King right? I'll take your offer.” Her eyes sparkled with excitement and she hugged me even tighter! Even for a Devil if she hugs me any tighter I'm going to suffocate!
“Yay, yay! Then, I'll make the preparations for the trip to the Underworld. You'll be ruling the mansion that is home to the House of Arcana. That house is one of the 72 Pillars of the Underworld. And guess what Korbin, it's number five! You're a High Class Devil King of the fifth ruling house of Hell!” She smiled charmingly but my ears could not be fooled. F-Fifth ruling house of Hell? Am I even allowed such a high position?!
“Don't worry about all the position and procedure garbage. It's boooooring. It's more fun this way! Also...” Taylor suddenly came close to me and I could feel a certain warmth. A warmth I haven't felt in years. She kissed me clear on the lips. Our lips touching, combining, a display of feelings. I'm shocked and left speechless when she pulled back. Her face is cherry colored, as I can imagine mine is too.
“T-This...Makes me your wife and you m-my husband. So, take care of me from now on Korbin.” What? WHAT?
“Wait, wait isn't that a little too preemptive?”
“It's the only way to make you King of the House of Arcana. And...I'm not necessarily opposed to it either. A-Am I not good enough for ya?”
“N-No you're fine. It's the opposite actually. I feel like I don't deserve what I have now.” She smiled gently and held my hand tightly.
“You deserve it. After this long journey, you deserve a break. I'm...Sorry about Celina, but you'll have me now!” Taylor then snapped her fingers which prompted a magical pentagram to surround us on the ground and swiftly we were swept into a portal.
Sorry Korbin...I thought to myself. I tricked you more than Celina did you Korbin. A devils jealousy is dangerous. I can never tell you the truth Korbin. You'll hate me and that would make me depressed. The truth is Korbin I'm the one who killed Celina. I murdered her knowing her potential as an angel.
I'm the one who placed the tome in the library. I tricked you. Knowing you'd do anything to see Celina again. But I couldn't stand being in the shadows much longer. I soon created an alias for myself. Taylor. This girl Taylor, was just a neighboring girl to you. Not even the angels knew I was a devil in disguise. I'm sorry Korbin. I tricked you.
I'm the one who hired the old woman to give you a devils weapon. I needed you to be corrupted further. Simply killing the angels was not enough. You have much potential. To start an uprising. To start a war. Between Heaven and Hell. This is your power Korbin. This is your fate. Of course Korbin, I did this for myself. But also for you. To realize your true potential. To realize your true self. I'm selfish. And envious. I love you Korbin. I truly do. I wanted you for myself. For no one else. I needed you Korbin. I don't ever dare tell you these thoughts. If you find out one day, please don't hate me.
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