|Posted on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 07:46 pm: |
Was cleaning out my junk drawer, so to speak, found this. Figured I'd post it here. Sometimes that's really all there is.
Fear was supposed to be alien to him.
He listened for the sound of splashing beneath his feet, the hiss of breathing, the retreating sounds of those who had fallen into his orbit, or he theirs. He feared for them. Even the annoyingly secretive servant of Tzadkiel...who had always managed to find a way to infuriate him when they were both princes of the Sarim and whose servants were no better...concerned him. It had been a long time since he'd found himself in this manner.
And Stephen...who I owe answers I could never give. I've allowed you to live in ignorance too long. Now he was lost, adrift with a magi and a child who was somehow already inside Sarris' defenses. He could feel her looking out at him from his own eyes. He could feel her.
He did not want to feel anything.
How had that become so hard to accomplish?
His body quivered as he kept the ten spheres in his thoughts, trapping as much of his self as he could in the space that was no space. Like Ain Sof Aur so long ago, he contracted the light and waited. Those that would come would be attracted by the light he'd already shed...and then would think him defenseless. Or so he hoped.
He feared it would not work.
He was not supposed to know what fear felt like at all. He was of Destruction. He spread fear, he didn't feel it. His gaze lashed around the cluttered space he and Stephen had shared through decades...past the rush of discovery when the human's brashness had tempered itself into bluntness, his resolve fired by experience, through their fighting and the loss of desire and then settling into as close a friendship as Sarris could admit to feeling for anyone. Books and more books, old furniture, there was almost nothing there that didn't remind him of something. Of years spent attempting to forget, or punish himself, or even the time he'd sought to punish Stephen. It had been human of him to do it. I could have been anyone. Why did I choose to be a fool?
The faintest sound. Inside, Sarris forced the light to whirl from Kether to Chokmah, burning white light that writhed from those spheres to Binah, and then the three of them blazed as the surge of all colors burst a flare of yellow tendrils and green shoots that sparkled as they drove into Chesed. White and silver light inside as the sounds outside him became more and more frenzied. Clearly, the hounds of his enemy were finally ready to force the next confrontation. Twisting his featureless face into jagged angles, he sent his force deep into himself, seeking out Geburah and seeing it blaze into red and gold fury as he did.
The door began to twist and deform. He shuddered as Tiphareth took the surge, the center of his being blazing with purple and yellow light, which leapt to Netzach like nimble lightning. His eyes blazed, shimmering from color to color as the spheres within aligned with the greater otz chaim, light pink fire dancing along the surface of Hod and warping into darker, crackling lightning the color of raw meat as it slammed into Yesod. The door split down the middle, claws rending it asunder, as the color of the newborn sun in morning raged along Yesod, flares of power erupting from his eyes now the color of the sunset, the dying red of a bloody sky.
He would let nothing touch her.
They came gibbering, leaping, screeching into his home. The hounds of the twisted ones, even less human then the harriers from before. The twisted of the Herd, held in Beiriron in order to be unleashed when necessary. They came, and then found themselves surprised and held in place as the power arced down from Yesod to Malkuth, grounding itself in azure fire that blazed from the crystalline surface of the manifestation of Sarris' seraphic form.
"Greetings." Blue light played along an emerald fist as it became the embodiment of edges, sharper than a razor a molecule thick, harder than a diamond from the core of the earth. "Now you die."
He moved, and his jagged leg tore the head from a hideous fusion of cephalopod, snake and man, tentacles with fanged mouths scattering across the room and bursting into flames. Even as he took first blood, Sarris knew himself to be slowed by fear and eons of humanity bearing down on him like chains he'd spent eternity linking leaden to himself. The acid blood of the blighted burned the rug, searing the fabric down to the fibers, and the piles of books began to smolder.
A creature of pure ebon darkness, leonine in its negative creep, flowed around Sarris' back, willingly burning itself to death for the chance to gouge the perfection of his gleaming skin. Causing furrows of misery to rise up from the blankness above the seraph's eyes. A slash of a wing shredded it, but a toxic mound of excrement and loathing made form drove a fist the size of a turkey into Sarris' side, the impact enough to cave in the front end of a car. Sarris didn't react save for the momentary vibration that played up and down his frame, but the pain caused the blue light burning from inside him to darken to a midnight that caused the entire room to seem momentarily infinite in size.
Then he drove two slashing forearms down into the muck and filth, and with a shrug tore it into a thousand thousand globs that burned as they flew asunder. As the Herd scattered to dodge their former brother or sister's corporeal remains, Sarris grabbed the nearest one...a twisted young female with the nose and wings of a hummingbird and a long forked tongue that lashed from its beak, seeking the nectar of human blood...and used it like a club, crashing it into the hard carapace of the entirely verminous thing that sought to burrow up through the floor. Black and green chiton and red-orange feathers filled the air as they collided again. And again. And again. Until they were both shattered, and the razors of the seraphs' hand ground all the way through the leg, meeting in a mass of pulped bone and shredded flesh, its blood a repulsive green-yellow fluid that oozed down his arm and burned as it went.
Distracted by his own self-satisfaction, Sarris barely saw the least-threatening appearing of the Herd as it slashed in at him, entirely human looking, bearing a fire axe and a trash can lid. It was only when he noticed the strange black outline of those weapons that he twisted, and the axe slashed away a spine from his form, discordant howling dissonant bursting through every inch of him. The attacker, a ragged girl-child in appearance, grinned with teeth filed down to points as she bounced off of the wall, the axe in her hands poised to deliver another strike.
Sarris twisted, and as his leg lashed back the point of it shot forth, catching her in the throat and pinning her to the mantle of his fireplace, which was now on fire. The look of surprise on her face as black mire oozed out of her mouth made him want to retch. He drew his leg back and decapitated the snarling grey-white doglike thing that raked claws across his wounded side as it died, causing him to leak green light into the air, a sound like a thousand shattered goblets forcing itself from his blank face. Pain was also supposed to be alien to him.
He was slow. They should have all been dead. He should not have been hurt.
He was slow and he needed his Sword. However, he was not going to call for it.
Two of them remained, the slower of them, who had been unable to react to the chaos of the initial attack and now found themselves facing the burning house and the rage of a Destroyer. Sarris' wings extended out behind him, tearing through brick and burning wood and pipes and wiring, as the spines that crowned his head brushed the ceiling and rained plaster and paint down upon the room. The larger of the two, a creature patchworked together from discarded car parts, abandoned steel beams and rusted iron pipes, the discards and dross of a material world opened a mouth and let greyish smoke pour past a jaw like a clambucket. It was a diesel golem, and it strode forth on feet that shook the already ravaged house. Behind it hesitated a creature as much dry straw and withered vines as it was flesh and bone, shot through with rotten tendrils that kept the decayed flesh moving. The flames that now licked the walls for marrow to consume, the convulsing multi-chromatic radiance that leaked from Sarris and seared the eyes, both spoke of death for such a kindling being.
An arm made up of fragmented pipes and pistons and hydraulics leaking oil and shedding grime swung at the light that leaked from what could be thought of as a ribcage on a man. Twisting, shuddering, the urge for more wings and more faces burning inside of him...I will not draw the Sword, I will not draw the Sword... Sarris barely managed to sidestep the strike, feeling the ache where he'd been struck like acid against the mind.
Enraged, eaten by memory and regret, feeling and not wanting to feel, Sarris gave hold of himself up. The false name fell from his mind, a dirty and battered shield more encumbrance than help. A song he'd heard on one of his recent crawls through the facade of humanity flooded the last vestiges of his mind. Hit the flame, burn a hole in my brain/ never be the same/ I try to take it slow but she's pushing me to go/ where I don't wanna go/ And you can feel anything you wanna feel and call it real and then it was gone, gone to where Sarris was falling...
And Sariel screamed.
The matter that surrounded him...the air, the burning wood, the trembling plaster, the cement of the floor, the scraps of fire-borne paper that climbed the ladder of heat and were embers in the fluid of currents clambering aloft, the empty tumbler next to a bottle of scotch, the glass plate dining table, the bodies of the Herd...none of it stood a chance.
He was Destruction. The scream tore the building apart. It separated, it shattered, it immolated, it wrenched, it splintered, it fractured. The metal monstrosity that had been standing before him was caved in by the first wave, scoured by the vibrating blast of the harmony, blasted into shrapnel that rode the sound back and impaled the weed that walked even as it burst into flames. The walls fell. The ceiling collapsed. The brownstone imploded, perfectly and without touching the buildings attached to it, as though sliced away by surgery.
The air above the ruined house crackled with lightning, blooming across the sky like the stresses of a shattering plate. There were sounds of thunder.
Two who were once like brothers, who shed blood together, who fought the Qlippoth at the dawn of time, who resisted the Fallen when the lightbringer made his choice, now resumed the task of killing each other. At speeds surpassing sound, they banked and whirled and slashed, obsidian and emerald streaks.
Sariel threw out a wing as he banked in the air, driving it past Baraquiel's guard, crashing it with a squeal of crystals scraping against the spiky facets of his enemy. He barely got it folded back in time to avoid the slash of Baraquiel's lightning-edged Sword, a crackling abhorrence that devoured life and light where it swept. Sariel was larger, stronger, faster, and more at home in war than Baraquiel ever would be.
Baraquiel bore a Sword. The manifestation of ultimate commitment. And Sariel heard voices bubbling up from himself, words and desires that were yet were not his. Scraps of prayer, babblings of a life he did not recognize, a desperate need for him to survive which ran alien to his feelings yet he could not ignore it. Baraquiel rushed in, sweeping his weapon in a wide arc that forced Sariel to tuck in his wings and flip backwards, lashing out with spines from his legs that merely warded his enemy off for a moment.
don't die if you die I die don't die
It was like having a horde of wasps that wept inside his head. He tried to regain balance, but there was none to be had, and he was forced into a series of defensive strikes as Baraquiel again and again brought the advantage of his weapon into play. I won't draw the damn Sword, I won't do it, I don't care if he kills me I won't draw the Sword battled with please don't die do something but don't let him kill you if you die I die and the rage that had always distinguished him in battle rose back up.
"I thought you were going to kill me, Sariel. Did you change your mind?" Baraquiel lashed out with the blade, ripping the top of a concrete pillar in half...when did we get so close to the rooftops came the voices in Sariel's mind, the little girl voice wound around his own like braided hair, like Gadriel's had been the last time he'd seen her. "I'm disappointed in you, great warrior."
Pulling himself up into the air with a massive downstroke of his wings, Sariel gathered himself high above his enemy, climbing steadily into the sky. Baraquiel followed, but could not match the speed with which the larger clawed the sky for purchase.
"Are you running from me?" Before he could continue to taunt, Sariel whirled in the air, his massive crystalline and metal wings reflecting the light from the moon in arcs of blue and silver as he pivoted. Guttural chanting that reverberated from his entire edged frame, the one tongue, and even as Baraquiel brought the Sword to bear it was as though Sariel had become the moon, blazing with borrowed light.
"Run from you? Not in this world or the next." Sariel pointed a hand taloned with metal, and as the sky blackened the full radiance of the moonlight erupted directly around Baraquiel, a light so bright that it banished all darkness and burned at the very core of his selfish being, tearing at him from the inside, causing his onyx and obsidian form to glow in those places where blight was most at home. Even as he screamed, he heard the hammering of mighty wings above him, fighting to right himself and failing.
Two jagged fists propelled by crystal wings crashed into the luminescent chest of the Grigori, silvery light that flickered over the two as the impact sent fragments and scraped gouges from them. Baraquiel's face was pure unalloyed agony, his featureless shining expanse of black twisting into the topography of inner and outer pain colliding. Sariel's was frozen somewhere between rage and sorrow, shining afterimages of faces flickering in his moonglow eyes. Baraquiel slashed with the Sword, a desperate blow that caught Sariel in his side, tearing more of his gleaming body away in a spray of green light.
Before he could howl, they finished falling.
The surrounding buildings were full of people, of course. Those people would later have hundreds of different explanations of what was happening. Sewer mains collapsing. Gas explosions. Gang warfare. Crystal meth conflagrations (and they were such nice people, too, our neighbors) or even UFO's. The man who lived down the street who would tell people he saw two angels fall from heaven and land in a plume of light and fire every color that could ever be seen would be by far the least credited. His neighbors would begin to whisper about him behind his back, and the strain would cause his marriage to nearly collapse, what with the dreams.
For instance, the dream he would have of seeing again and again the black form wreathed in flames as it hurtled out and away from the fire, a jagged crackling thing in its...hand...that made the eyes weep to look at it. The all-too-human witness hurled himself to the ground and so did not have to see any more, did not have to see the emerald counterpart rise out of the flames with a blinding flare of green light illuminating everything around it, centered on its right side, light than oozed like blood.
They made sounds at each other than no human ear could translate. Sounds that resounded with the purest clarity, sounds that were at once ultimately harmonious and ultimately discordant. They flew at each other, so fast that the air burst around them, clouds of dust and smoke blasted away in rings, peals of shattering sound that pushed the cars on the street back and blasted out windows all around them. Glass rained down upon them as a green claw of metal and crystal slashed down into a perfectly black head, raining globs of yellow light down upon the ground. A black leg tried to snap into a green side, only to be caught and twisted, throwing the attacked aside.
Those that watched turned away, most unwilling or unable to see. Those that could bear it stared at the glory of two seemingly perfect beings dancing each other to death.
Sariel squeezed his eyes shut, shards of red and gold becoming slits as the thoughts hammered away at the shuddering walls of his mind. Outside, he barely fended off several strikes of the slate grey edge of Baraquiel's Sword, while inside he saw glittering fragments of something beyond light writhing as they danced around the core of himself, his own private otz chaim, the spheres of the tree that made up his life...and he knew.
He knew the years alone. He knew the ugly act of a man in a kitchen that had helped to begin the hole in her heart. He knew the act of denial, of hiding away behind a mask, so much like his own experience. He knew the fear of allowing emotion past the impassive lie. He knew. He stared into himself and found her there, waiting for him, staring back from inside.
"You will not touch her." The whirlwind of his own loathing burst from every jagged inch of his spiky frame, fractals of hate, seething with the ever-shifting chromatic fire of the light that they had both once called home. Baraquiel staggered back, warding the waves of heat and light become active off with the obscenity he called a Sword, as Sariel unfurled scythe wings and scourged the air. Even as his obsidian shadow took to following him, the emerald seraph rose, rose, rose still more and then dropped, wings pulled back, directly for the faint green ribbon that bisected the city.
The river surface was dappled by wind. Sariel fell, then with a thought righted himself, a sphere of azure light pushing down into the waters and parting them slightly while he hovered above it. The sphere of light crackled, swirling about him, the sound of stone splintering, wood cracking, earth parting, all forms and manners of destruction echoing of the embankments on either sides of the water. Baraquiel reached the top of his own arc and descended, the jagged edge of his focused soul trailing quicksilver sparks behind him.
In the right hand, a surge of emerald light.
Father-mother, Presence of the infinite boundless light, I have not dared turn my face to yours since the failure of my will and my heart and my mind, since the water drank the land and swept aside my failure. Please. I ask too much, I always asked too much, but please. Grant me my Sword, that I might fulfill my ancient task one last time. I cannot let him touch her. Please.
An angle of pure green light that burned like fire and shone like noon tore apart the air above that edged fist. Both sides of the river gleamed, reflecting the light that was a blade. And holding it, for the first time there was nothing of the jagged creature that hovered above the water that did not seem majestic, as though a flame had been lit inside to match. Even the pure green light that weeped from his wounded side had a glory that would have set saints weeping and redeemed the wicked.
For one moment, there was no part of him that did not feel blessed. The grigori descending was of no consequence. The thousands of years lost and alone were merest whisps of time, barely even registering as real. All that mattered was the spark he huddled close to his whirlwind heart, the girl-child he could not bear to lose, and the incarnate sign of favor in his right hand.
He bore a Sword again.
Baraquiel did not have time to stop. Plummeting, he swung the tainted parody of his essential being down, and the pure green light rose to meet it. The impact was the peal of a broken bell, the dissonance of metal rending and flying apart under pressure, the howl of ice splitting and calving away from a mountainside. Moving so quickly that the water beneath them began to froth, torn by the cyclone of the strike and parry and thrust of their very natures made to war, they stabbed light and fire and lightning and fury against each other.
Sword to Sword, they made war. The waves they created began to lap the tops of the walls girding the river, seeking to spill into the streets. Again, and again, and finally Baraquiel saw what he'd hungered to see...a dip of the point, an exposed patch right where Sariel's wound gleamed with inner light. Growling, he pivoted a leg towards the left and then thrust for all he was worth at that savaged right side, screaming with joy...
Only to see the right side rotate away even as the tip of his weapon dragged across it, almost lazily, a raised wing taking the brunt of the thrust and extending Baraquiel's arm as far as it would go.
He looked up to see Sariel's right arm, and that terrible green glow, raised as though always waiting for him, waiting for time to reach this precise moment.
Then the Sword crashed down, and Baraquiel's arm sheared cleanly away from his body, dropping into the white waters of the agitated river beneath them, Sword in hand. The pain of the loss barely even registered as he saw the burning eyes focused on him, seeing the grey miasma of his twisted, perverted life bubbling out the wound which had been his shoulder, a thing of black edges and dull spines.
"Goodbye, Baraquiel. May the Aum Soph Aur find a use for what abides in you. I won't pretend to know what that could possibly be." Sariel pivoted, raking the great green edge of light up as he did, and ripped Baraquiel's serrated body in half from the angle of his left leg all the way up through the thorny tip of his head. A scream that pounded at the cement walls of the river, shook the bridges that spanned it, and broke windows on both sides as the blighted angel shuddered into the billion billion burning motes of light that rushed up and into infinity, rising endlessly on the tree, the return of the lightning flash that was Baraquiel from Malkuth to Kether.