Ruth stood in a wide desert south of the position Ki, the Great Protector, had commanded her to go. There was only desert sand as far as she could see as the hot summer sun beat down on her face. There was not much life here. It was a desolate place, but this was not a quest to protect life.
She and three other angels, including Jacob, were to bring the angel Bezaleel to the Angels’ Flight, a gathering of the angels. Ki rarely gave a direct order. Ruth was horrified by the warning in Ki’s voice told them to use extreme caution.
An Angels’ Flight only occurred every 500 years or more. When Ki called for a gathering, all angels would answer. That is what makes this task so troubling. What could be stopping an angel from answering Ki’s call? And why would it take four angels to help him get there? Ruth feared there was another terrible disaster such as the volcanic eruption she just witnessed at Lao-Yaina. Or could it be something else?
What if there was an unknown force that would rival even the angels? Surely, Ki would have told the angels of such power if it existed. Ki could see all living things. Unless the source of the power did not reside among the living, Ki would know of its existence.
In any case, this situation was a cause for great concern. Ki had told the four angels to come in different directions as if to create an ambush. Had Ki sent the angels on a rescue mission?
Ruth waited for Bezaleel to arrive. Ki said he would approach from the east, and Jacob was to be following him. The other two angels would come from the north and the west.
After waiting several hours, Ruth spotted Bezaleel at last. Ruth did not know what she had been expecting, but she was surprised to see Bezaleel alone flying freely over the sands.
All at once the angels closed in quickly on Bezaleel, creating dirt devils behind them. They surrounded him, each about twenty yards away. The force of their speed hit Bezaleel and he stopped, landing neatly on the desert floor.
There didn’t seem to be any immediate danger. The weather was calm, and no unknown force had presented itself yet. Ruth saw the angel to her left relax his stance. Ruth, on the other hand, stood ready to act at any sign of disaster.
Bezaleel was the one to speak first, “So, this is it then. You are the ones Ki has sent to bring me in.”
It wasn’t a question. The four other angels stood still, confused by what Bezaleel had said. He had known Ki would send angels to bring him in. He did not say, “to help me,” he said, “to bring me.” Angels were many things, but not enforcers. There was no need for enforcement among the pure souls of the angels. Ki made sure only those of purest of hearts would become angels. Ruth hardly dared to believe that Bezaleel would need to be brought to Ki against his own will.
“Tells us what you mean Bezaleel,” Ruth requested.
“Ki did not tell you? Perhaps you have too much blind faith in the Great Protector,” Bezaleel answered. “Ki has sent you here because I have betrayed the order the angels. I no longer protect the life on this planet. It has become infested and therefore must be exterminated to make way for something better. This world will be a world far greater than it is today.”
Ruth was horror struck, unable to speak. She never once, in her many thousand years, considered the possibility of a corrupt angel. Yet, here Bezaleel stood there proudly admitting it to them.
“I don’t know what delusions have clouded head, Bezaleel, but Ki will be able to help you. Come back with us to the Angels’ Flight. Ki has called upon us all to…” Deborah, the angel opposite Ruth, began to say before Bezaleel cut her off.
“Are you not listening? I no longer serve the one called Ki.”
“Why? How could you?” The angel to Ruth’s left, who Ruth did not know, looked at her, “Ruth, Jacob, has there ever been an angel to turn away from Ki?”
“Aw, well all angels before me have been too blind to see the truth about this world,” Bezaleel whispered menacingly. “There are powers far greater than the power the angels possess. I have only begun to learn of its magnitude, but even now I have become more powerful than even you, Ruth, the First Angel of Ki. It is convenient Ki has sent both the first and second angels to fetch me. All the better to test my new abilities.”
Before any of them could act, Bezaleel soared through the air, blasting the angel Ruth did not know, who hit the sand hard. Bezaleel placed his hand on the angel’s chest, and then a current of energy flowed from Bezaleel’s hand into the angel’s chest. He lay there frozen. His skin turned a ghostly shade of black.
“Bezaleel, what have you done? We are peaceful people. We do not fight,” Ruth screamed, tears welling up in her eyes.
“That is why you cannot stop me!” Bezaleel replied as he lunged toward Ruth. Ruth put her hands up in defense, but before they collided Bezaleel was forced sideways by a gust of wind that Jacob shot at him. The wind sent sand spraying all over the scene. Deborah attempted to restrain Bezaleel, but he grabbed her first. He spun in a full circle holding Deborah by the neck. He launched her toward the setting sun. She disappeared in the distance.
Then, Bezaleel was on Jacob. He was jabbing at Jacob left and right. Blow after blow Jacob was knocked back. Midway in a flip, Bezaleel grabbed Jacob’s head and spun him around with a force that would have completely severed a head of a normal human being.
Jacob lay motionless on the ground. Bezaleel moved in with his hand extended, the energy flowing to his fingertips. Ruth sprung into action. She redirected the sunlight. It formed a beam, much like that of a magnifying glass. A pillar of fire burst into existence around Bezaleel. He was trapped inside the ring of fire.
Bezaleel’s hand was burning in the fire. The fire, around his hand, turned the ghostly black color of the angel who lay frozen on the desert sand. Dark smoke rose intensely from the black flames. Ruth actions were meant to slow him, but as Bezaleel tried to escape, the pillar increased its intensity.
Normally, angels could walk through fire. They would still feel the pain of the burn, as Ruth well knew, but Bezaleel seemed to be imprisoned by the flames. Ruth was shocked. This was not her intent.
Bezaleel seemed not be able to move his hands away from the flame. The black energy was being sucked right out of his hand and being absorbed by the flame. Bezaleel weakened rapidly.
Ruth had a feeling Ki had something to do with what was happening to Bezaleel. Ruth did not think she wielded such power. As a last stitch effort Bezaleel tried to smother the fire with the sand. Deborah, who had recently returned to the battle scene, used the wind to redirect the sandstorm, which raged away from the fire.
Bezaleel collapsed to his knees. Ruth continued with the fire until she saw his eyes roll into the back of his sockets. Bezaleel’s hand finally fell from the fire as he went limp. The flames disappeared by the time Bezaleel hit the ground.
Ruth ran over to Jacob as Deborah checked on the other angel. Ruth helped Jacob sit up. Jacob was clutching his head as if he had a bad headache. “What was that Bezaleel was doing with his hands?” Jacob asked.
“I do not know. We will have to consult Ki about this,” Ruth answered. “My dear Jacob, are you able to stand?”
“Oh Ruth, you are ever the Mother Angel.” Ruth hated it when Jacob called her the Mother Angel. Although she was the first one, she was not the mother of the angels.
“You should not have protected me.” Ruth criticized Jacob. She felt his actions caused Bezaleel to attack him.
“Someone has to look after the beautiful angels of this world.” He defended.
“If you haven’t noticed, it is the angels you deemed in need of protection that are the only ones left standing from this conflict,” Ruth argued. “Besides you hold on to a ridiculous human notion.”
“Bezaleel is still conscious,” Deborah announced, “but just barely. I don’t think he will be able to harm us anymore.”
“That is good to hear. Let us get back to Ki,” Ruth instructed. “I will take Bezaleel. Deborah, can you take him?” she pointed to the other angel. “Jacob, will you be able to travel, or shall I carry you as well?”
That was too much for Jacob, who had instantly stopped massaging his temples. “No, that is quite alright. I will manage it myself, thank you.”
“Fine stay ahead of me, so that I can keep a watch on you.” Then Ruth turned to Deborah, “Follow behind me and help me keep tabs on Bezaleel. If he gains his strength back we will need to be ready to defend ourselves.”
They all flew to the northeast toward the grove of olive trees where the flight of angels awaited their arrival. The entire way there, Bezaleel was too weak to do anything but groan. Unfortunately, that is more than they could say for the angel who still lay frozen in Deborah’s arms. His skin was still the same icy black color.
There were close to a hundred angels among the olive trees. Ruth took a look around. She recognized all but a few of the faces. The ones she did not recognize must be fairly new. As First Angel, Ruth often travels to all regions of the world, whereas, most angels are assign the watch over only a small area. Ruth interacts with other angels regularly, but some of the newest angels might not have seen another angel before today.
Ruth and Deborah laid Bezaleel and the frozen angel down at the center of the gathering. All eyes fixed on their two limp bodies. They were not used to seeing angels unconscious. The group started murmuring amongst themselves, but their whispers died off quickly.
The olive tree to the left of Ruth shrunk to human size as it morphed. Ki had taken the form of the olive tree, but now Ki’s figure was similar to that of a human, but more beautiful than anything else found on this earth. Ki’s skin remained the color of the olive tree. A streak of dark midnight blue, which mimicked the summer night’s sky above, moved fluidly along Ki’s body.
All eyes were on Ki, but Ki had eyes only for Bezaleel. Ki’s eyes showed great pain. The feeling of betrayal spread from Ki and reached into the heart of all the angels. After a moment of silence Ki spoke, “Today our Angels’ Flight was called upon to learn of a great tragedy. To my everlasting shame, we have a traitor among us. Bezaleel, the first corrupted angel lies before you.”
The angels all around the grove stood silent with shock. No one could breath. The tension was too thick. They were no longer pure. Before now the order of the angels was thought to be incorruptible, but there they stood in front of Ki in the flesh to bear witness to a betrayer of life.
Ki raised a palm toward the sky. Bezaleel rose with Ki’s hand. He stood on his own two feet. Ki had given him his strength back, but restrained him with his own power. “I have sent these four angels to bring Bezaleel here.” Ki pointed to Ruth, then to Jacob, then to Deborah, finally resting on the frozen angel. “Sadly, it has come with a heavy price.”
“You will be able to heal Arash, won’t you?” Deborah implored, pointing at the unconscious angel.
“It is a difficult process, but yes, Arash will be as good as new.” Ki comforted her. “But first what is to become of our betrayer? Bezaleel, you have gone down a path that is not easily escaped from, but your soul may yet be salvaged. If you will depart with me, then we can work to regain all that has been lost.”
“I will never again be your puppet,” Bezaleel spat out as he shot lightning from the cloudless sky.
Ki absorbed the bolt into his body with no hint of effort or pain. Ki signed. “I am sorry my friend, but you have chosen the path to darkness.”
The place where Bezaleel stood turned completely black. It was as if a black hole formed where he stood sucking him into the abyss.
“Now hear me angels. Bezaleel chose to learn the powers of darkness. It is to my greatest sorrow that I banished Bezaleel into that very darkness. There is no fate worse than his. Any angel to turn against life will get the same fate. I implore you all to stay on the path of life and never waiver. Up hold your oaths. I do not wish this fate upon anyone.”
Suddenly, Ruth felt a strong sensation of Déjà Vu. Ki had banished Bezaleel over 3000 years ago. She felt cold stone as she lay on her back. Why had she relived the event again? Did Ki show this to her? She had a hundred more questions in her head. But before she opened her eyes, her mind went blank, and she fell unconscious again.