March 19, 2011 § Leave a Comment
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.
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.
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. I have not dared turn my face to Yours since the failure. Not since the water drank the land. Please. I ask too much, I always asked too much, but please. I cannot let him.
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.