The halls of the Archangels were even more regal and glamorous than the Gathering Hall was. Tapestry’s hung along the walls with detailed weavings of events that had occurred over the years; when humans, angels and demons lived in harmony, Jesus Christ rising into Heaven, Noah’s Ark, Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. It was all there and in incredibly detailed weaving that looked as if it was a picture captured in time. The floor was carpeted by a long rug that had eccentric patterns woven into it, showing different landscapes and they transitioned into one another. The walls, flooring and columns that supported the ceiling were made of quartz and between the columns were pedestals with busts or treasured artefacts sitting on them. I recognised a few but there were many others I hadn’t heard about at all. There seemed to be no source of light lighting up the bright halls but I didn’t question; it was probably some angel magic at work to keep the place lit.
As I followed Gabriel through the halls, I came across what looked like a mirror sitting upon one of the pedestals, but there was no reflection in it; just grey clouds. I stopped and stared at it, watching the grey clouds slowly shift in it as they moved around. I furrowed my eyebrows, what was it?
Curiosity got the best of me and even though I was supposed to be following Gabriel to go and meet Michael, I couldn’t help but wander over to the strange mirror and get a closer inspection. I walked closer towards the mirror-like object and stood a few feet in front of it, ogling it as I tried to figure out what it did. Maybe I had to touch it like I did with the orb to activate it? I reached out a hand to see if that would work but before my hand was even halfway, the object began to vibrate and shudder. I gasped and took a step back as the mirror-like object began to faintly glow and small words etched themselves into the golden rim.
‘Cui cupiditas sua quaerunt colores?’
“To whom shall seek the colours of their desire?” I mumbled as I translated it from Latin. What in the name of the Father did that mean? “Uhh… Markus, Angel of Heaven?”
The strange mirror suddenly went blank and I just stood there confused as it stopped vibrating and the glowing dimmed. I stood frozen on the stop, contemplating what to do next. Did I break it? If I did then I would be in a tonne of trouble. I didn’t even touch it.
All of a sudden, the mirror glowed brighter than before and I had to shield my eyes as it almost blinded me. When the light dimmed so it wasn’t as blinding, I slowly removed my hands from my eyes and saw that the mirror-like object had lost its gloomy, grey cloud effect and was replace with a swirl of different shades of blues, greens, reds, blacks, whites and browns. If I looked closely enough, there were also small hints of pink. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion; the colours of desire, huh? I still had to figure out that that meant.
“Hey, Markus!” I turned my head to the source of the sound and saw Gabriel poking his head out around the corner. “You comin’ or what?”
“Uh, yeah. Of course,” I took one last glance at the colours that were shown in the strange mirror before hurrying on my way in pursuit of Gabriel.
I had a vague idea of what the colours meant but I couldn’t be sure. Maybe the colours of my desire were showing my some sort of landscape on Earth and it was giving me a sign that I was supposed to go down and fill out Gods/Michaels task. It gave me a small ray of hope.
But nothing is never that easy.
Gabriel seemed to know where he was going as he led me around several more corners until we reach a set of large, mahogany doors that had carvings of massive angel wings etching onto it. I figured that on the other side of these doors were the chambers of the Head Archangel himself.
“Well, here we are. Michael should be on the other side of the door,” Gabriel said, proving my theory.
I nervously rubbed my thumb against the palm of my opposite hand as tried to take steady breaths. “You’re positive?”
Gabriel nodded. “He doesn’t leave his quarters anyways – unless it’s urgent – so there’s a high percentage that he’s in there,” Gabriel looked at me, his eye showing slight concern and questioning. “You ready?”
I sighed and heaved my shoulders. “Well there’s no turning back now, is there?”
Gabriel smiled and shook his head. “No, not really. But not time like the present, right?”
I said nothing but nodded and focused my attentions on the door as Gabriel knocked on it and opened it slightly, poking his head through the door.
“Hey Mikey, got someone here to have a little chat with you,” Gabriel said.
I could faintly hear Michael’s reply. “If it’s that pesky angel Zachariah asking for a job switch again, I swear on the Father Almighty—“
“No, no, not at all,” Gabriel said the glanced at me over his shoulder. “It’s someone entirely different.”
There was silence for a moment before I heard Michael speak. “Fine, then. Send them in.”
Gabriel turned back to me a nodded, gesturing for me to come closer.
“Come on, he’s waiting.”
I took a deep breath. This is it, here we go.
As I followed Gabriel into the quarters of the Head Archangel, I was taken aback to see that it was something I had did not expected at all. I expected lavish living quarters with ancient artefacts stood upon pedestals like they did in the halls with famous paintings hung on the walls. I expected pristine furniture made out of solid gold, expensive looking rugs on the floor, a huge stained glass window that showed him above all other angels – something kinda like what an Archangel would live in.
Not a wooden cabin interior design; it just seemed too… simplistic and basic. Michael just seemed like the kind of angel to go all out and live in a regal manor, not something small and confined. The place was cosy, though, with a blazing fireplace to keep it warm and an armchair in front of it with an ottoman to prop one’s feet up. A small coffee table was situated next to the arm chair where a cup some sort of steaming beverage in it as someone sat in the armchair, occasionally taking a sip from the cup. Outside the windows’ was dark and if I listened closely, I could hear the faint sounds of rain.
Yeah, definitely not something I would have expected from the Head Archangel.
“Gabriel, to whom have you brought to my presence?” came a voice from the armchair, which I assumed Michael was sitting.
Gabriel nudged me forward slightly and I nearly tripped over my own two feet. I felt the colour rushing to my cheeks; not into five minutes of meeting the Archangel Michael and I already had made a fool of myself.
“I-I’m Markus, your Grace,” I can’t believe I was stuttering, I never stuttered.
“And? Do you have a reason for requesting an audience with me?”
He wasn’t making this any easier.
I glanced over at Gabriel for support, but the best he could do with grin widely at me and give me a thumbs up, which didn’t help my nerves at all.
I turned my attention back to Michael. “I, uh, I’ve come here to request—I mean to volunteer for the humanity surveillance task on, umm, Earth.”
Michael didn’t reply and all you could hear was the fire crackling as it flickered and cast low shadows around the room. The feet that were resting on the ottoman slowly moved off of it as I heard shuffling coming from the other side of the armchair. I could feel my heart beating a million miles per hour as Michael rose from the chair and moved into view, his appearance looking menacing in the dim lighting. His dark, coffee-brown hair looked almost black in the dim light, his grey eyes looked darker than usual which was slightly terrifying, his body cast a large shadow against the wall which made him look bigger than he actually was and even though his expression was blank, the fire made it look villainous and cruel. Michael was already powerful and could strike fear into the hearts of anything, but seeing him in this stance made me almost want to run and hide.
“What’s your name?” Michael asked.
“M-Markus, your Excellence,” I said, mentally kicking myself for stuttering.
“Hmm…” Michael looked me up and down as if he was studying me to see if I was right for the task. “And tell me, Markus. Why should you be chosen to go to Earth for such a dangerous, cardinal and important task?”
I rubbed the back of my neck. “Uhh, well…”
I wasn’t sure what to say honestly. I literally just came here without any preparation and just thought that I’d get the task with no questions asked, and look how wrong I was. Guess I’d just have to improvise.
“I want to volunteer for the task because…” I went through millions of ideas in my head and picked the most reasonable one. “Umm, my jobs as an angel is to view and study the humans from afar and make sure nothing tips the balance; my job is a Gazer, basically – and I guess I’d just like to watch the humans up close for once and see how different it is from watching from afar.”
“Hmm…” Michael said nothing but wandered around me as if he was studying a new species of creature; his walking cane making quiet thuds on the wooden flooring. “A Gazer, huh? And you’d like to go to Earth to watch the humans up close rather than up above?”
I nodded. “Y-yes,” I said.
Michael moved back around to my frontal vision and stared intently at me as he seemed to think over my excuse for volunteering. I was a nervous wreck; did I make a good enough excuse or would I have to stay on Heaven a miss out on my possibly only chance of visiting Earth? I think Michael liked seeing people suffer because it felt like a millennia before he finally spoke.
“Your answer is competent and adequate,” Michael said, making my hopes rise in assuming that he was hinting that he was allowing me to go to Earth. “However, there is a problem.”
I was puzzled. “And what problem is that, your Grace?”
Michael swung his cane up and hung it behind his shoulders while resting his arms on it, taking the most casual pose I’ve ever seen him take. “You’re not the only angel to volunteer for the task.”
I felt my heart drop to my stomach as my hopes for visiting Earth diminished. “A-and who is that?”
Michael nodded his head towards the door. “Take a look for yourself.”
I turned around to face the door I had entered, watching it as it opened just a crack to allow some other light to leak in. I looked as it opened wider and soon there stood the third Archangel, Raphael. Of course, it would be him.
“Seriously?!” Gabriel exclaimed. I almost forgot he was here. “Does it have to be Raph?”
“I’ve told you not to call me that, Gabriel,” Raphael said as he walked into the room, shutting the door behind him. “It’s highly improper, unbefitting and disreputable.”
“Oh smite me,” Gabriel spat then turned to Michael. “Mikey, you can’t be serious on letting Raphael go to Earth, can you?”
Michael turned to look at Gabriel. “As a matter of fact I am, Gabe. He’s the most qualified to go while we stay up here and keep Heaven in order.”
“Then why not I go, huh? You and Raph are more qualified at protecting Heaven than I am—“
“And you’re more likely to cause trouble on Earth if we send you down,” Michael retorted. “Raphael is more competent and adroit than you could ever be, so that is why he’s been chosen to carry out Gods task and have us survey the humans on Earth.”
“So why not keep all three of us up here to watch over Heaven and send Markus down?” Gabriel retaliated, seeming very agitated. “His reason is just as good as Raphael’s so I don’t see why —“
Gabriel was cut short as Michael swung his cane down from his shoulders in an arc and it transformed into a gleaming, silver sword with edges that looked razor-sharp. Michael held its point at Gabriel’s neck as Gabriel arched his head back to not get himself harmed.
“You dare question my authority again, brother,” he spat the word out like it was venom in his mouth. “And the consequences will be extremely dire. Understand?”
Gabriel’s jaw was clenched as his nostrils flared while he eyed the sword poised at his throat; a dreaded silence hanging in the air. Michael moved the sword forward a small bit as it nicked Gabriel’s skin and a small dot of blood appeared, it dripping down his olive skin.
“Understand?!” Michael raised his voice slightly louder, demanding his role of authority aloud in just one, short, curt word.
Gabriel swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down. “Understood loud and clear, brother.”
“Good,” Michael lowered his sword, it transforming back into a walking cane as he placed it on the ground. He fixed his suit and rolled back his shoulders. “Now, I believe we’re done here. Gabriel, show Markus the way out.”
As we walked back along the pristine halls of the higher Heaven, I stayed silent as Gabriel muttered beside me, mumbling things to himself as his anger boiled up inside him.
“Stupid brother doesn't think of anyone but himself; not giving others a chance. ‘Raphael is more competent and adroit than you could ever be’, Raphael is just as stuck up as he with a stick shoved so far up both their—“
You get the idea.
I followed Gabriel as he lead me through the wondrous halls as we came to what looked like a giant, stained glass window with hundreds of colours of the rainbow reflecting on the ground as a light shone from behind it. I stopped and stared at in awe as Gabriel continued walking ahead of my and the glass on the window began shifting towards him as if he was a magnet and they were attracted towards him. I watched as he muttered under his breath and placed a hand on the glass, a wave of vibration rippling through the glass as the colours changed to different shades of blue, green and white with golden browns. As I looked closer at the stained glass, I saw it shifting and changing into different shapes and sizes as it seemed to take shape of a landscape with clear blue skies with fluffy white clouds, trees with emerald-jade leaves and what looked like some sort of wheat field or dead grass area where a giant tree stood in the middle of it all, seeming to overlook the field. It was a simplistic view but it looked peaceful and calm.
“What is this?” I asked, still staring at the magical, stained glass window as the colours seemed to ripple as if they were alive.
“A portal, of sorts,” Gabriel replied as he stared contently at the picture. “I personally like to call it ‘the Looking Glass’, for obvious reasons. When a person touches it, the shards shift and form into the desired person’s ideal place to be if they think about it hard enough. They then just shut their eyes and fall forward through the picture, appearing wherever the shards took the image of.”
I stared at the landscape Gabriel had brought up and furrowed my eyebrows in confusion as to why he would think of a place like that. It was a nice view, of course, but Heaven was in the clouds, not in a field.
As if he had read my mind, Gabriel turned to me with a small, playful smile. “You’re wondering why I chose this place rather than Heaven, aren’t you?”
Gabriel turned and came and stood beside me, looking upon the landscape like it was a prized painting. “Look at it; doesn’t it just look nice? I bet you’ve never seen Earth from this angle, am I right?”
I shrugged. “It depends on what view I want to at the world from,” I answered. “I can look at it from any way I want.”
“But you’ve never seen it up close.”
I shook my head. “No, not ever, and I don’t think I ever will,” Michael’s words of refusing to allow me to travel to Earth echoed in my head, bringing me a small twinge of sadness.
“Well, at least you got to see it like this,” Gabriel said and looked longingly at the picture. “Say, would you give anything to go to Earth, just once?”
I turned to Gabriel. “Of course; I’d give anything to go to Earth, even if it was just for a day,” I said wistfully, looking back at the landscape.
I heard Gabriel chuckled breathlessly beside me. “Well, if you were ever to go to Earth, you would need the Mark of and Archangel placed between your wings as sort of permission slip, I guess; kinda like this.”
Before I knew what he was doing, Gabriel placed his hand on my back between where my wings would be, followed by a small burning sensation that felt like someone had placed a hot stone on my back. I yelped out in pain and stumbled forward a few steps, Gabriel catching me before I fell into the portal.
“Whoa, easy there, Mark. No need to get too excited now,’ Gabriel laughed, pulling me upright.
“Wha-what did put on my back?” I asked, although the answer was simple and I was just oblivious.
“I put my Mark on you, buddy,” Gabriel grinned mischievously like he was up to something that wasn’t good. “Did you not hear what I was saying?”
The pieces clicked into place in my head and I went wide-eyed. “Gabriel, you can’t be serious? What if Michael—“
“Don’t worry, it’ll be fine,” Gabriel didn’t sound as reassuring as I think he wanted to be. “Just play it safe down there, okay? And no powers, don’t want humans finding out about us, now do we?”
“B-but Gabriel, I—“
I was suddenly pushed forward with such a tough force that I fell forward towards the portal, the sound of glass smashed as I came into contact with it. My body shifted around so that I was facing Gabriel; he gave me a mocking salute and winked at me before I was suddenly sucked backwards as if I was being pulled into a black hole, my vision going dark as the world around me evaporated.