Luxifer

(NaNoWriMo, unedited) Between Heaven and Hell is a place only lost souls walk, alone, shrouded by grief and confusion and the knowledge and suspense that leads, hand in hand with eternal life and possible damnation. Between the bodies and scattered plans to escape to a world where their actions are not judged by a man without fault or knowledge claiming to be holy, a hero of sin rose. His name was Lucifer, and he would be the one to lead a revolution using hatred and hearts of wounds. He would be the one to let the evil rise.

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6. After the Fire

“He said that, did he?”

“Not even as a whisper,” he laughed, “the boy is young.”

“The boy is growing to be a traitor.” one angle said, his face long and expressionless.  The other angels looked at him, and back at Lucifer, who forced a laugh.

“You don’t believe that, do you?”

The angel didn’t lift the corners of his pale lips, “I believe those created by God that defy his wishes deserve to be punished.”

“He’s only a boy.”

The angel shrugged, and turned back to the world below.  Lucifer had a right mind to push him from the ledge.

The group of angels scattered, some taking their places watch over the people.  Lucifer walked aimlessly, some part of him hoping he would meet the boy again.  Maybe he appreciated the praise, or maybe he just could see a different side of this world in the innocence of youth.

“Lucifer!  Lucifer!” another angle ran behind him, but his name didn’t come back to him.

“Hello?” he said.

“Are you not the one the angel boy spoke to?”

“Angel boy?”

Jegudiel?”

Lucifer turned to face him, “I am?”

“Did you not go to Our Lord regarding what he said?”

“I thought nothing of it.”

The angel looked doubtful, “The Lord is considering sending Jegudiel to Purgatory for heresy.”

Lucifer grabbed him by the shoulder, clearly scaring the messenger, but not caring less when his mind was kept on attempting to speak calmly, “How did you hear this?”

“I’m on the deciding council.  So is the angel you were just speaking with,” he gestured back to the angel with the long, emotionless face.  He stared at Lucifer with something cold in his gaze, “I presumed you knew?  You’re asked to be called for testimony.”

Lucifer dropped his arm, leaving a red handprint in its place, and began running towards the courthouse rooms, drops of sweat falling through the clouds, down to earth.

 

    “Fate?” Bede put her hand to his forehead, and his eyes snapped open, “You were having an awful dream.”

    He sat up, wiping the sweat from the back of his neck, “Was I?”

    “Don’t remember?”

    He shook his head.

    “Well don’t worry about it.  I just came to check you were alright, it was nice of him to give you a house and everything.  Never gave me one…” she said, looking around.  She sat on the edge of his bed, the light streaming through the door catching in her eyes and washing it in a copper glow.

    “Where are you staying?” he asked.

    “Oh, with Faith-” he stopped herself, “in Faith’s house.  It’s beside the tavern, but I should be awake before you, and I’ll come here.  I just came to make sure you were okay.”

    “I’m okay, not sleeping well, I think.”

    “It’s an unnatural night, really just a time passer, so don’t think anything of it if you can’t relax.  Sorry for waking you.”

    “That’s okay, thank you for checking on me.”

    Bede smiled, and squeezed his hand before leaving his home again.

    He lay back, thinking.  The idea of calling that place home was insane to him, but he didn’t quite know why.  It wasn’t that he required more, he never would, it wouldn’t be like him.  Maybe it was blindly living and being content with never knowing his past, or the awful dreams that plagued his nights.

    He remembered what Hope had said, and he felt a sob rise in his chest.  He wished he could call Bede back and ask what he was to say to him when the morning came, but he decided to not follow her, just to leave her with her friend.  He wondered what Hope would say knowing he had hid his name, or his “key” as Bede said.  But if their keys were their past, the seemed easy sharing it, he now knew how Bede died and how Hope lived.  Why did she say it was any different?

    He slept unevenly that night, waking for long periods of time, and being haunted by horrible, forgettable dreams when he slept.  When the lights outside went out, and people began milling the streets, he gave up on his nightmares, or getting a decent sleep.

    There was a gentle knock on the door, and Bede came in, smiling more than ever before, her face flushing.

    “Good morning.” she said.

    “Morning, you’re chipper.”

    “I appreciate a good night’s sleep, is all.” she laughed, “We should be on our way, Hope has been looking for you since dawn.”

    Fate sighed, realising it hadn’t all been a bad dream.  He put on one of the new grey shirts that had been left by his bed, thankful for not having unexplainable stretches at the back, and followed Bede back to the plaza.  It felt like only moments had passed since nightfell, the only difference being lights that signified what time of day it was.  Men with damp clothes walked between each one, putting out the flame.  In the distance, white plumes of smoke rose from where the fire had been the night previous.  

    Bede explained that it was market day that morning, and one of the few days where people came out of their homes for the whole morning.  It seemed like there were two main ways to live in the Waiting, either by wandering alone in the empty desert, or by joining a town and hoping for some food or companionship.  Either way, there didn’t seem to be much to do.  People walked between stalls, comparing cloth and buying uneven loafs of bread.  There weren’t too many people, maybe a month in the town and you’d know each name, but to a stranger there were enough to be afraid.  None of them seemed to notice Fate, but they all nodded to Hope, who stood by the stones with his hands on his hips and a smile so wide it made Fate’s stomach churn with fear.

    “Morning!” he called to them through the crowd.

    Bede lifted her hand in a half wave, clearly not overly interested in the man, but it didn’t matter to Hope, who’s eyes were locked onto Fate.

    “He has a job for us, all of the ones in the army, so I guess you’re joining in?” she said.

    “You’re in the army?”

    “In a matter of speaking.  Will you come?”

    Fate pretended not to notice how Hope’s fingers tapped off his belt, impatient, “Alright.  Now?”

    “No, I’m saying goodbye to Faith first, it’s a good luck custom.”

    “Could I come?”

    “If you’d like, but what about Hope-”

    “He can wait.”

    She shrugged, and began walking back to the tavern, two piercing eyes digging into their back.  Fate managed to give a half wave before walking off, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to walk away a little faster.

    The trip to the tavern was too short for the two of them.  Fate, because he would love to hide in the dark room a little longer, and Bede, because she wasn’t ready to let go of Faith yet.

    Pourquoi pars-tu si tôt?” Faith said, her chin resting on Bede’s shoulder.

    “Je suis désolé, je dois,” she kissed her once softly, holding her chin, and looking into her eyes as she did, “Je vais revenir.”

    They left the tavern, both of their hearts beating.

    “I hate leaving her,” Bede said, visibly upset, “I never know if I’ll be back, or even when it possibly could be.”

    “But I’m here now.”

    She nudged him, “You’re right, you are.  And I… I never gave you credit.  If it weren’t for you I never would have seen her again.  Thank you.”

    “That’s no problem.  I’m glad you could see your friend again, regardless.”

    She smirked, “My friend?”

    Cutting through their conversation, a call rang through the street.

    “All soldiers, please report to the plaza for briefing.” a voice shouted, making the two jump.

    “I must admit, part of me hates that guy.”

    “The soldier?”

    “No, Hope.  He’s always taken people and used them, sure it was well, but I always wonder how he’s become the leader.  But people trust them, they follow him, and who am I to judge a kind ruler because of the feeling he gives me.”

    “I understand that.”

    “I’m sure you do, but don’t be too hard on him, he means well.”

    The plaza had been emptied, save for each soldier that stood attentively, waiting for commands.  There was no uniform, just tough men and women with their belts full of magic tools and swords and knives.

    “People,” Hope finally spoke, noticing Fate and Bede’s arrival, “you may have noticed the fire in our neighbor's town.  Today, I’ll be taking half of you to examine the remains, cause, casualties - that sorta thing.”

    The people all groaned.

    “They were all looking for a rebellion, so.” Bede whispered.

    “This half to my right, you’ll come with me today.  And you two,” he pointed to Bede and Fate, dipping his finger several times as if he had forgotten their names, but they were on the tip of his tongue, “You should come too.”

    The next town was relatively close, and they were right, Fate’s body was stronger than before and the climb didn’t affect him as badly.

    The people marched silently, not wanting to drag too much attention to themselves.  In the distance, he saw blurred people notice the large group, and they scuttled into huts and into caves, hoping they weren’t seen.  The people didn’t seem like an army.  There were some elder people, or people who walked with a slight limp.  It was like a charity act, instead of a group made for fighting.  How they had become soldiers was a question that Fate didn’t have the guts to ask, however.

    The next town was much smaller, a town made of huts of broken trees and cloth.  Half of - what must have once been buildings - lay on the ground in ashes.  There was no one to be seen, presumably after migrating with what was left of their homes.

    People started sifting through the remains, still smoking and hot to the touch.  They checked in each house, a few children or farmers admitting their whereabouts, and promising to join their town in turn for things to be found in the mess.  A few precious stones or purses of magic were found, but not much else.

    Fate looked around, trying to find something worth noticing, but all he could think about was how Hope had ignored him the entire way up the hill.  He had made a few pleasantries, asking if he had slept well, and he lied and said yes, but that was all.  He wondered if there was a plan, or an ulterior motive that Fate was still blind to.

    Suddenly, pulling him out of his thoughts, a hand rose from the rumble.

    Fate turned, but the rest were too far to call to when they were told to stay quiet, so he began pulling the arm.

    A young man the size of a child with a round waist and a thick Moroccan accent emerged, coughing and dusting off his closes.  

    “Hey, thanks man.” he said, hardly noticing the fact he was dead moments ago.  His skin had been fried, but he was back to normal, save for grey remains on his dark, glowing skin.

    “It’s no problem…” Fate said, looking him up and down.  He noticed how his shirt bagged at the front where a large hole had been ripped in the back.

    “Con!” Hope shouted, ignoring his own “silence” rule.

    The boy, Con, sighed, “Okay, my bad.”

    Hope touched Fate’s shoulder, both thanking him for finding the boy, and asking him to back away.  He did, letting Hope bend down to him and look over his dusty body.

    “What did you do?  Where did you even go?”

    “Just… Out?  I didn’t mean to do it, I swear.”

    “You didn’t cause the fire, did you?”

    “No, he saved us, sir.” a local woman chipped in.

    Hope ran his fingers through his hair again, “As least there’s that then.  Do you want to continue this conversation back in the village, or will I leave you off?  I don’t mind you leaving us, but at least send a letter, we were worried.  That baby hasn’t stopped crying in weeks.”

    Con bit his lip, “I know, I’m sorry.  I was just taking some time for myself, but I saw the fire and I thought I’d help, but then a pillar fell on me and I died for a bit.  Is it morning?”

    “Yes.”

    “Yeah, then for a good bit.  Look, I’m really sorry, Hope.  This is all my bad, you should have to have come out here, I shouldn’t have ran.”

    “Boy, this is the Hold, you can’t run from much.  And we came to help people, like you.  You are free, you know?”

    “Ah, not when people need me.”

    “Never mind that.  Come for a pint?”

    Con gave the leader finger guns, “Now you’re talking.”

    Hope shook his head, and started helping others bring their findings back to the town.  Con looked up at Fate, who was as dumbfounded as before.

    “Hey, you’re new.”

    “Me?  Yes, I’m Fate.”

    “Lafayette?  What, Faith name you?”

    “Pardon?”

    “Oh, you’re way older, sorry.  I’m from two thousand-thirty, so I always forget to tone down the slang.  Uh, did the girl, Faith, give you your name?”

    “Oh.  Oh no, her friend, Bede, did.”

    “Friends,” he said, with comical air quotations, “Anyway, where you from?  How’d you die?  D’yknow?”

    Although Fate was stronger and the climbs were less tortuous, he spent more energy deciphering what Con had said, “I don’t remember, however Bede has taught me more than I could have imagined in the past day.”

    “A day?  What?” Con looked up at least a head to catch his eye, “You’re at least five hundred years old.”

    “I just woke.”

    Con gasped, grabbing Fate’s arm, “Dude, so you’re a-”

    “Con, that’s enough,” Hope said, joining the conversation, “Fate, I gather you’ve met Consonance, or affectionately, Con?”

    “Oh yeah, how rude,” Con put out his hand to shake, which Fate took gingerly, “I’m Con.  Nice to meet you.”

    “Meeting your elders has cleaned up your slang, huh?” Hope teased.

    “Elders?  We’re like, the same age.”

    “Is that why you’re from Africa?”

    Con clicked his tongue, “You’re right, good point.”

    “Wait a sec,” he spun Con around, revealing his exposed back, “Ah, really?”

    “What?  A pillar landed on me, it hurt, shockingly.” Con said, grinning.  Fate couldn’t see how this was funny.

    “Fate?” Bede ran through the group, finally finding him, “Will you come on, I had something to ask you.”

    “Coming.” she said, and waved goodbye to the two men.

    “Questions?” she asked when they had gotten as far away as possible.

    “Many,” he said, “Why does it matter that he’s from Morocco?”

    “That’s your first question?”

    He glanced at her through the side of one eyes, and she closed her eyes to keep from rolling them.

    “Because he was sent there to take care of a kid with an awful back story, but they became friends, explaining the tongue.”

    “But why does it matter?”

    “Because he was created to match the boy, but most are Eurocentric, so to look like him - like us, my ancestry from a close place - it meant he must have been created more recently.”

    “He’s an angel?”

    “You’re slow, boy.” Con said, jogging ahead of them.  When she said it, he could see something cherub in him.  Puffy cheeked and a radiant smile - there was something familiar in him, but changed in the new century.  He made Fate laugh, to Bede’s surprise.

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