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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9. The War Town - Pt. 1

When Fate came back to his senses, he was lying down, only darkness swirling above him.  He thought he was back at his hospital-like room for  a moment, and he tried to pull himself up and away desperately, like a caged animal, but he couldn’t.  His body was being weighed down at each side of the bed and he could do nothing but close his eyes and try to sleep again.

    As he was drifting off, he felt a liquid pour down his throat, hot and sweet.

    He lifted his head all he could, coughing and spluttering, and looked to Hope, who gazed at him over the bar with his head resting on one hand.

    “Do y’know how long you’ve been here for?”

    “Two days?” he said, wiping his mouth with his sleeve.

    “Several weeks actually.”

    Fate nearly gagged, “What?”

    “Never notice how your cuts were gone?”

    He stroked a scar where the first woman he ever met in that place had dug a knife through his chest, “I just thought everything healed quickly.”

    “Yeah, but not instantaneously.” he laughed.

    Fate groaned, trying to keep his head up.  He felt trapped to the table.

    “Why am I so heavy?”

    “Here, have more,” Hope brought the cider to back him, but he waved it away.

    “I hate that stuff, it’s vile.”

    Hope lifted it to the light, “Is that why you drank half of it?”

    “I-I did?  Why?”

    He shrugged, “Did you dream?”

    “I don’t think so?”

    “Well, that’s why, isn’t it?” he took a long drink, leaving the glass empty, “Animal instincts or something?  Want to forget?  Anyway, you’ve slept a week, it must have been good for you.”

    “Is that why I weigh so much now?  I feel like I’m chained to the table.”

    “It’s the bar counter actually, not a table, and the bar maids aren’t happy.”

    “Sorry.  Why didn’t you move me?”

    “We can’t lift you either, those wings weigh a ton, y’know.”

    He looked down each sides of the table, remembering the fact he was supposed to be an angel.  In his mind, he was attacked in the village and woke up shaking hands and being brought to mysterious, cursed bars, but he didn’t choose to complain when those bars were full of wounded soldiers of sorts, not even when the bar was empty.

    “So, what should we be doing now?”

    “Getting you vertical first I think.”

    Fate dropped his head back, “Right.”

    “C’mon.  Hey, anyone back there?”

    The barmaid came out from the backroom, her hand on her hip and an empty wine glass in her hand.

    “Help?” Hope asked.

    “The woman gestured to her scorched muscles and joint, but Hope was already pricking Fate’s finger with a shard of glass, and taking a drop or two of blood.  Fate hardly flinched, already used to his blood being used.

    The woman walked over trying to see what he was doing, and Hope pulled her forward, smearing black blood on her tongue.  

She nearly gagged, “You need to respect women, Hope, before you get in trouble.”

“Sorry, sorry, I’m trying.”

Her hair began to grow to her waist, her skin losing five years and her scars.  She looked the image of her twin, except more annoyed.

“Hey, I didn’t save my sister to not have a thing to show for it.  Will they come back?”

“‘Course, in less than a day, it’s just so you can give my friend a hand.  Do y’mind?”

She wrapped one arm around Fate, and the other around his wing, “Friend is a weird way to put it, you have soldiers out there thinking he’s playing God.”

“He is,” Hope did the same, lifting his weight slightly, “But he’s also my friend, right Fate?”

Fate took a moment to register that Fate was still his name, “Yeah.  How will this work, I’m still to heavy?”

“We’re just here to get those wings going.  Start beating them, or else I’ll have to stick another fork through your hand.”

“You will not.” she said, beginning to move his wings back and forth.

It was a struggle, and took Hope slyly plucking a few feathers to get him going, but he felt himself finally lift from the counter, the blood painfully rushing to his feet.

“You just need to move them a bit, get the blood back pumping.  Sit here, and stretch a little.” Hope said, and moved off outside, taking the bar maid with him.

The room was cold and musty, but it felt good to be alone.  Fate stretched his arms back, groaning with the pain that rippled through his back and neck.  He looked at his wings, taking a candle from the table to examine each section.  They shook uncontrollably, usually used to warm, glowing angels.  They were blacker than he remembered, and he realised he was shedding on the floor.  He nearly blushed, but if they thought he was a god they mightn’t mind.  He knew he wasn’t a god, but he knew very little else, so he decided to listen to the others to piece together the things he always forgot.

He stroked the wings with soft fingers, and they quaked, but settled again.  They seemed to pulsate under his touch, nearly purring like a cat.  He smiled, watching them curl around his body and back out again.  They were like an animal to themselves, great long beasts that only he could tame, but they were too heavy to keep petting, so he asked them to drop to his sides, and they politely did, making them easier to carry.

He stood up, a rush running to his head.  He began to taste sick in his mouth, but his wings grabbed the stools to steady him.  He walked through the room, his wings keeping him on his feet but still wreaking everything around them, knocking over glasses and tables as we went.  He gave them a poke and they reluctantly coiled back around his waist.

Outside, there was no one left to be seen.  Standing on the wooden road, there were two choices, head to the valley, or back to the village.  He was only a moments walk from his home, and he desperately wanted more rest.

Through the houses he saw Bede walking towards the town centre.

“Bede!” he yelled, unexplainably happy to see her again.

She looked through him, confused.  Her eyes seemed to glide over the path, and over the young man with large bloody wings.  She seemed to sigh, and kept walking, completely forgetting about him.

He yelled her name again and ran towards the village, but he skidded to a stop at the border.  His feet still hadn’t past the threshold, and he realised that if he stepped off, he might never find the path, or indeed, what was behind the mountains, ever again.  He just watched her as she walked to his home, checking inside, and sighing again.  He forgot just how empty that village was when everyone was hiding in their homes.  She turned away, and walked back to Faith’s home.

He turned back too and began walking towards the valley.  He felt bad, partially, he didn’t know why Hope didn’t bring her with them.  He realised he had been asleep a week.  Did she know he was there, or did she check his room each night?  Did Hope bother tell her what had happened?  
    He kept walking, just thinking of mad she might be.  Why did she want to keep the fact he was an angel a secret?  She changed his name, stopped his power, but it was all in vein.  He hoped she was okay, no matter what happened to him.  He also hoped her blisters had healed a little in that time.

He stopped in his tracks, noticing two people ahead.  A man and a woman holding hands, each with a longsword in the other.  They were coming to cross his path, but they were far enough away and still hadn’t seen him yet.  He held his breath, willing his wings to keep quiet, and they did.  The couple finally reached the path, and he wondered if when they treaded on it would he become visible.  

But before they could step on it, the path moved down through the sand, covering itself, as they walked right by, no more knowledgable of his whereabouts than they were before.  Looking back on the trail, he saw that it had buried itself as well, just a foot behind him.  He jumped ahead, and the path swam under his boot prints, erasing them as he walked with the sand.  He smiled, realising how clever this was, but it faded when he realized that there had to be a good reason to keep so many enchantments on that route, something worth hiding from the entirety of Purgatory.  He kept walking, wondering what would be ahead of him.

It was a longer walk to the valley than he expected, and the lights in the village were beginning to be lit one by one.  It was quiet out there, even in a ghost town, there was some noise.  Even just creaking doors or running water, but out in the open there was nothing left to listen to, and it felt like the pressure of air was flooding your ears, making you deaf.  Every now and again he hummed a single note to just hear something, but when it faded his ears filled with cotton again.  The air was crisp with the lack of presence, and he found himself staring at the empty sky, and imagining colours turning and spinning in the void.  Everytime he was sure the colours had come to life, his wings would rise, and he’d have to settle himself again.  It became apparent how souls could spend eternity trapped wandering in Purgatory, and also why they call it the Waiting, or the Hold.  

Fate had hardly realised he had stopped walking, and was just staring at the sky, until he noticed the lights of the town beginning to be put out.  He began walking quickly, nearly cringing at how he was so easily distracted.  Everytime he got to the point of running, his wings picked him up a little, and he ended up flying the last stretch of land, quicker than he would have if he ran.  He was dripping in sweat, just with the work of making his wings move for him, let alone at the same time, but he felt breathless with exhilaration.  He could fly, and he never knew.

When he got through the valley, he first saw the town down in the hollow between two hills.  It was the oddest thing, unlike most of Purgatory, it had a river and almost-green trees.  So far the greenest thing he saw was old corn, but this was different, almost as if it was taken from a familiar place on a distant land.

He elected to walking down the slope, wishing he had brought a drink, or at least a change of clothes.  He had realised a while back that he had no way of knowing whether Hope and the others were down there, but seeing the town built on a the path, stretching out as long as a mountain, and moving deep into the valley itself.  As if it were sitting on a lake, the path acted as a raft keeping all of the buildings onto it hidden, as long as nothing slipped from the wood - he knew this place was made by someone powerful, or at least using powerful magic.

He walked into the the town, hoping that those who noticed him weren’t suspicious, or dangerous.  He had realised that he could fly away, back to his home village, but it was such a long trek, he didn’t even know if he could find it again if he didn’t walk slow across the enchanted path.

The people there didn’t noticed him.  Some noticed his wings, and raised their eyebrows, somewhat impressed at the black that had begun to take over, but other than that, they continued walking.  Most held what looked like heavy equipment, some tending to wounds with charms.  He had never seen that much magic.  Crates of a fine bone-white powder rested against tents, red liquids simmering over open fires.  He resisted the urge to run his fingers through it, no matter how soft it looked to the touch, no matter how sweet it smelled to his dreary, traveller mind.

    He had only realised he had been reaching out when a young man with his head in his arms walked by.

    “Smells like rubber, huh?”

    “Rubber?”

    “Like, uh,” he chuckled once, a quiet, lazy noise, “Never mind, you probably like the stuff, right?”

    “It smells amazing.”

    “Well, here, hold this,” the boy handed his head to Fate, who accepted it with a bewildered expression.  The hole in the boy’s neck wheezed where he would have laughed, and he took Fate’s hand, pushing it under the potion without splashing it back on himself.  Holding the head in the crook of his arms, and praying it wouldn’t bleed through his sleeve, he rubbed his hands together.  It felt warm, like holding them in front of the fireplace.  The warmth sent shocks down his fingers, reaching under his nails.  Suddenly, like it was of a life of itself, the blob of red realised its purpose and disappeared into his skin without a trace.  A second later, several inch long, yellow, crooked claws bore out of his fingers.  They didn’t match his elegant, smooth hands, but he held them up to the light to see just how something so chipped could shine like glass.

    “Cool, eh?” the boy gestured for Fate to hand his head back, and he made sure to not dig is new-found claws into the boy’s skull, “I’ll let you keep those hands for a bit, courtesy of letting my dad stick a fork through ‘em once.”

    “Wait, who?”

    The boy pointed to his headless-self, “My dad, other headless guy, stuck a fork through your hand?”

    “Oh, yeah.” Fate said, feeling like the tavern was a million miles away now.  Maybe it was.

    “Well anyway, I was sent to go find you.  The names Aspir.  Like Casper.  Like Aspirations.  Stupid sure, but we all got a name.  You are Lucifer right?  Again stupid question, but I was sent to find and retrieve one Lucifer.”

    Fate was getting over the way the boy spoke in few word, power sentences, “Most call me Fate.”

    “Ew, you really want a “human in the Holding” name?”

    He shrugged one shoulder.

    “Suit yourself.  They only give those dreamer names to future soldiers of the cause, so I guess it’s an honour.  This way,”

    The boy brought him down through stretches of tents and pitched gear.  Fate thought that this was not like any camp he had ever seen.  It had a certain muddy, dangerous vibe that made Fate feel on edge, almost as if they were all about to die, but he couldn’t quite tell why.

    The entire way, Aspir told Fate about drama in the village.  So-and-so had gone on a hunt together and they were dating when they got back.  Someone killed his sister but it was okay because she was actually apart of the other village.  There was a rumor that Hope was drinking his angel’s blood, but Hope hung the kid who started the whole thing by his shirt on the statues in the plaza until he apologies.

    Fate stopped, “What was that last one?”

    “Too late, we’re here,” Aspir pulled apart the tent flaps, “You’ll either die, find out later, or realise you shoulda asked questions before we got here.  The correct answer is to come find me, ask me later and I’ll tell you all I know, cool?”

    Fate smiled, “That sounds good.”

    Aspir tipped his head, “Go on, get your scoulding.”

    Inside the tent was as musty as everywhere else in Purgatory, but at least there was light.  Con was glowing as it was, even with his solemn look, but Hope and a few of the other people that sat at the table had placed lanterns around the table.  They looked at a map.  A messy thing drawn on dried leaves, but they apparently knew what it all meant.  A red X was in one corner, one woman with pixie-short hair desperately trying to rub it out with her licked sleeve.

 

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