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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11. The War Town - Pt. 3

“We didn’t think you were coming for a long time yet.” a woman said, the one who was still scrubbing at the X.  A man with a long coat and pirate hat, with skin as blue as the ocean, drew in the lines with red ink wherever she smudged it.  She looked as if she was about to explode.

“Hope, this isn’t going to work - Stop drawing pirate stuff, would you?”

The pirate shook a gloved fist at her, “You business types are all the same.  Runnin’ ‘er mouths, thinkin’ you know what ‘er doin’.  Probably died by puttin’ normal sugar in ‘er coffees rather than that splenda shtuff.”

“For a start, I was choked to death by my wife, thank you, and second of all, if the thing you remember from your life is splenda, maybe you shouldn’t be drawing maps here.”

“Why you-”

“Children, please,” and old woman chuckled, her ringed hair and round stomach bouncing joyfully, “There’s no use arguing over something as silly as this lil’ thing.  Now, Hope, would you be so kind as to show little Lucifer around first?  That boy seems awful startled, and none of you seem to have noticed.  Bring Consonance too, hm?”

Hope closed his eyes, stifling a groan, “Yes, Betty.  ‘Mon, boys.”

He escorted them outside of the tent, letting the others go back to their bickering.  All three seemed relieved to be out in open air.

“Who was that?” Fate asked.

Hope walked by each potion, taking time to check each one carefully, “That was Betty.”

“I thought you all had meaning names, like Fate and Hope and Obedience.”

“I’m not making Betty follow our rules, Jesus no.”

“Why not?  She seemed like a cute old lady to me.”

“She was executed by lethal injection, but sure thing.  Con, you okay?”

Con nodded, and mumbled a sort of yes, and that was that.

“Fate?”

“Yeah?”

“How are you?”

He thought for a minute, “Afraid.  Afraid of disappointing everyone in that room, and all of your soldiers.  I really think I’m not the angel you’ve made me out to be.”

“You can’t disappoint us, Fate.  And most of these people here aren’t soldiers.  They just want to be free, and they’re willing to fight for it.  Don’t you want to be free, Lucifer?”

Hearing Hope say the name that had stuck in his head since he woke made him quiver, nearly more afraid than he was before.  Hope had two sides, like a coin.  One that looked at his people with a kind face, the man who became a king for lack of a better ruler, someone that no one really wanted, but all relied on.  The other was a man with blood-stained lips, whose life crashed under the knowledge that he had used magic and sin to forget the abusive man he was when his heart was beating.  A face clouded with shadow and guilt, looking out on the training camp with only revenge in his eyes.  Revenge, and secrets.

“Yes, I do.  I also have questions.”

Hope punched his arm, both playfully and exhausted, “It wouldn’t be Fate without questions, eh?  Okay, shoot.”

“How do we battle Heaven, surely reaching it is impossible, we’re trapped under ground.”

“You know Bede’s story, surely?  There’s one route to upstairs, but the light being admitted is too bright.  Remember Bede’s blistery hands when she tried to touch you when you were glowing?”

“Faintly.”

“Exactly, it is faint.  Well, one would turn to the barmaid if you hugged you right then, but compared to the route, it’s not much.  It is said, however, the darkest angel has a power to kill the light, that one source that keeps the Hold glowing around us, eerily shadowless.  Kill is wrong… Numb the light, let people pass, and then there we are, on the factory floor.”

“And can God not stop us?”

“God would rather we took over Heaven than get involved in affairs, no, don’t worry.”

“Are we taking back Heaven?”

“Us?  No way.  Not our job.  We just wanna live somewhere better.  More rehab, more angels, more powers - then we get more faith, but before that.  If you dark angels wanna protest though, go ahead, I don’t mind who rules the world.”

“Dark angels?”

Hope stopped on top of a mound, looking down to the people below.  Some had bows and arrows, or knives, but most just sat making potions and spells in little colourful bottles, and chatted.

“Don’t tell me since you’ve got here, you’ve never sinned?  You’ve drank, swore - had an inappropriate thought, I bet.  Dark angels happen when they turn away from God’s light, and you’re the one young man with no knowledge of Heaven, just a name that has been drumming in angel’s minds since the beginning of time, as far back as we know.”

Fate felt his new claws dig into the skin of his palms.  He caught Hope’s attention enough with thick, velvet blood beginning to show through the cracks in his knuckles, “I have never once sinned, Hope.”

He poked his back, pushing him ahead, “Is that why your wings are so speckled, dalmatian boy?  You abuse an angel's powers, you begin to sin.  Ever notice Bede snap when she rotted someone’s face off, or Con go for a while, come back all shaky?  Why do you think we practice for war on enchanted grounds?  Because sin is the only thing telling people wrong from right, and yet they were the one’s who made us commit those acts, God’s will and all.  Do you think if we could choose between doing the wrong or right thing, we would think of Heaven in that moment?  We’re wolves, boy, that’s all we’re good for.”

    Where his finger lay on Fate’s back it began to turn to dust, and he swore again.  He nodded to Con, who scoffed, something in him about to say no, before he saw Hope’s eye socket cave in, and he fell quiet.

    “Ladies, gentlemen, both and neither - I would introduce you today to our most pristine angel, Fate.”

    A few people muttered their hellos, but it took Con to shout, “Or as we know him, Lucifer,” for people to begin cheering.

    “Knock ‘em dead, kid.  I’ll see you after the speech.”  and Hope and Con left him alone with dozens of anticipating eyes.

    He looked at each of them, how they blinked back like children.  They slouched over their magic potions, awaiting instructions or any sort of advice for the impending war.  He realised that they were waiting for him, for his words, or any signs that the dark angels were beginning to rise.  He felt like - through the persuasion of Hope - that he owned their future, or simply the people.  When he parted his lips, they looked as if he were spitting the holy grail, and that thought alone made his wings beat black.

    “P-People,” he finally began, “Please, call me Fate for now.  I am only here to free the way for you to rise up against the power that’s oppressed you for thousands of years.  This is you battle, I am simply here to show you your powers.  Um…”

    Aspir nodded to him in the crowd, as enthusiastically as the rest of his people.  He gripped a knife in his hands, his knuckles turning white with anticipation.  Across the hollow of people sitting on their new beds and training mats, flat green things stuffed with hey, the committee of commanders he had just met had come out of their tents to watch him speak.  They grinned as he spoke, each mangled, murderous one of those souls, waiting for an uprising to stream from his mouth, but he couldn’t feel it inside of himself.

    “This is the future.  Our future, one we shape with what we put our faith in.  We shall rise to this, and get what we deserve.  Fight for those lost to the ground for believing in their rights.  We will win for our future where our people can not be afraid to commit our sins, as we shall learn from our mistakes, and we shall build as people.  That is what humans were made to do, and why not now, not here?  We deserve our plane, and we shall win it, but I need your strength, your resilience.  Will you join me to free Purgatory, for all lost souls, for the lost souls we are now?”

    They looked to each other, as if they were waiting for more.  His arms, which had began to rise from his sides, dropped into place.  He wished now, more than ever, he had never woken up.  That this was a dream that Bede, and even Faith, could shake him from, maybe he could be sharing the room with Con this time, Hope teaching him all he knew with his brave face uncut.  He needed his people, and this army was not them.

    “To the fate of Lucifer!” one person yelled, and it rippled through the people, through the village, leaving his army standing to attention, clapping and hooting, the committee nodding and smiling in the distance.  Bandit pirates, homicidal old women,  vengeful business partners - those who had died that had remembered, and remembered their longing for blood.  They had what they wanted, finally.  Someone their people could listen to, whether he had to be told what to say, or not.

    He reached out his hands again, and the people below cheered louder, some shedding tears, reminded of those they had lost to the so-called holy light they were about to escape with Fate by their side.

    He noticed the light around him suck into his body, leaving the world just that bit darker, and his wings shook with fear, slinking back into his body all they could.  He just smiled.

“We didn’t think you were coming for a long time yet.” a woman said, the one who was still scrubbing at the X.  A man with a long coat and pirate hat, with skin as blue as the ocean, drew in the lines with red ink wherever she smudged it.  She looked as if she was about to explode.

“Hope, this isn’t going to work - Stop drawing pirate stuff, would you?”

The pirate shook a gloved fist at her, “You business types are all the same.  Runnin’ ‘er mouths, thinkin’ you know what ‘er doin’.  Probably died by puttin’ normal sugar in ‘er coffees rather than that splenda shtuff.”

“For a start, I was choked to death by my wife, thank you, and second of all, if the thing you remember from your life is splenda, maybe you shouldn’t be drawing maps here.”

“Why you-”

“Children, please,” and old woman chuckled, her ringed hair and round stomach bouncing joyfully, “There’s no use arguing over something as silly as this lil’ thing.  Now, Hope, would you be so kind as to show little Lucifer around first?  That boy seems awful startled, and none of you seem to have noticed.  Bring Consonance too, hm?”

Hope closed his eyes, stifling a groan, “Yes, Betty.  ‘Mon, boys.”

He escorted them outside of the tent, letting the others go back to their bickering.  All three seemed relieved to be out in open air.

“Who was that?” Fate asked.

Hope walked by each potion, taking time to check each one carefully, “That was Betty.”

“I thought you all had meaning names, like Fate and Hope and Obedience.”

“I’m not making Betty follow our rules, Jesus no.”

“Why not?  She seemed like a cute old lady to me.”

“She was executed by lethal injection, but sure thing.  Con, you okay?”

Con nodded, and mumbled a sort of yes, and that was that.

“Fate?”

“Yeah?”

“How are you?”

He thought for a minute, “Afraid.  Afraid of disappointing everyone in that room, and all of your soldiers.  I really think I’m not the angel you’ve made me out to be.”

“You can’t disappoint us, Fate.  And most of these people here aren’t soldiers.  They just want to be free, and they’re willing to fight for it.  Don’t you want to be free, Lucifer?”

Hearing Hope say the name that had stuck in his head since he woke made him quiver, nearly more afraid than he was before.  Hope had two sides, like a coin.  One that looked at his people with a kind face, the man who became a king for lack of a better ruler, someone that no one really wanted, but all relied on.  The other was a man with blood-stained lips, whose life crashed under the knowledge that he had used magic and sin to forget the abusive man he was when his heart was beating.  A face clouded with shadow and guilt, looking out on the training camp with only revenge in his eyes.  Revenge, and secrets.

“Yes, I do.  I also have questions.”

Hope punched his arm, both playfully and exhausted, “It wouldn’t be Fate without questions, eh?  Okay, shoot.”

“How do we battle Heaven, surely reaching it is impossible, we’re trapped under ground.”

“You know Bede’s story, surely?  There’s one route to upstairs, but the light being admitted is too bright.  Remember Bede’s blistery hands when she tried to touch you when you were glowing?”

“Faintly.”

“Exactly, it is faint.  Well, one would turn to the barmaid if you hugged you right then, but compared to the route, it’s not much.  It is said, however, the darkest angel has a power to kill the light, that one source that keeps the Hold glowing around us, eerily shadowless.  Kill is wrong… Numb the light, let people pass, and then there we are, on the factory floor.”

“And can God not stop us?”

“God would rather we took over Heaven than get involved in affairs, no, don’t worry.”

“Are we taking back Heaven?”

“Us?  No way.  Not our job.  We just wanna live somewhere better.  More rehab, more angels, more powers - then we get more faith, but before that.  If you dark angels wanna protest though, go ahead, I don’t mind who rules the world.”

“Dark angels?”

Hope stopped on top of a mound, looking down to the people below.  Some had bows and arrows, or knives, but most just sat making potions and spells in little colourful bottles, and chatted.

“Don’t tell me since you’ve got here, you’ve never sinned?  You’ve drank, swore - had an inappropriate thought, I bet.  Dark angels happen when they turn away from God’s light, and you’re the one young man with no knowledge of Heaven, just a name that has been drumming in angel’s minds since the beginning of time, as far back as we know.”

Fate felt his new claws dig into the skin of his palms.  He caught Hope’s attention enough with thick, velvet blood beginning to show through the cracks in his knuckles, “I have never once sinned, Hope.”

He poked his back, pushing him ahead, “Is that why your wings are so speckled, dalmatian boy?  You abuse an angel's powers, you begin to sin.  Ever notice Bede snap when she rotted someone’s face off, or Con go for a while, come back all shaky?  Why do you think we practice for war on enchanted grounds?  Because sin is the only thing telling people wrong from right, and yet they were the one’s who made us commit those acts, God’s will and all.  Do you think if we could choose between doing the wrong or right thing, we would think of Heaven in that moment?  We’re wolves, boy, that’s all we’re good for.”

    Where his finger lay on Fate’s back it began to turn to dust, and he swore again.  He nodded to Con, who scoffed, something in him about to say no, before he saw Hope’s eye socket cave in, and he fell quiet.

    “Ladies, gentlemen, both and neither - I would introduce you today to our most pristine angel, Fate.”

    A few people muttered their hellos, but it took Con to shout, “Or as we know him, Lucifer,” for people to begin cheering.

    “Knock ‘em dead, kid.  I’ll see you after the speech.”  and Hope and Con left him alone with dozens of anticipating eyes.

    He looked at each of them, how they blinked back like children.  They slouched over their magic potions, awaiting instructions or any sort of advice for the impending war.  He realised that they were waiting for him, for his words, or any signs that the dark angels were beginning to rise.  He felt like - through the persuasion of Hope - that he owned their future, or simply the people.  When he parted his lips, they looked as if he were spitting the holy grail, and that thought alone made his wings beat black.

    “P-People,” he finally began, “Please, call me Fate for now.  I am only here to free the way for you to rise up against the power that’s oppressed you for thousands of years.  This is you battle, I am simply here to show you your powers.  Um…”

    Aspir nodded to him in the crowd, as enthusiastically as the rest of his people.  He gripped a knife in his hands, his knuckles turning white with anticipation.  Across the hollow of people sitting on their new beds and training mats, flat green things stuffed with hey, the committee of commanders he had just met had come out of their tents to watch him speak.  They grinned as he spoke, each mangled, murderous one of those souls, waiting for an uprising to stream from his mouth, but he couldn’t feel it inside of himself.

    “This is the future.  Our future, one we shape with what we put our faith in.  We shall rise to this, and get what we deserve.  Fight for those lost to the ground for believing in their rights.  We will win for our future where our people can not be afraid to commit our sins, as we shall learn from our mistakes, and we shall build as people.  That is what humans were made to do, and why not now, not here?  We deserve our plane, and we shall win it, but I need your strength, your resilience.  Will you join me to free Purgatory, for all lost souls, for the lost souls we are now?”

    They looked to each other, as if they were waiting for more.  His arms, which had began to rise from his sides, dropped into place.  He wished now, more than ever, he had never woken up.  That this was a dream that Bede, and even Faith, could shake him from, maybe he could be sharing the room with Con this time, Hope teaching him all he knew with his brave face uncut.  He needed his people, and this army was not them.

    “To the fate of Lucifer!” one person yelled, and it rippled through the people, through the village, leaving his army standing to attention, clapping and hooting, the committee nodding and smiling in the distance.  Bandit pirates, homicidal old women,  vengeful business partners - those who had died that had remembered, and remembered their longing for blood.  They had what they wanted, finally.  Someone their people could listen to, whether he had to be told what to say, or not.

    He reached out his hands again, and the people below cheered louder, some shedding tears, reminded of those they had lost to the so-called holy light they were about to escape with Fate by their side.

    He noticed the light around him suck into his body, leaving the world just that bit darker, and his wings shook with fear, slinking back into his body all they could.  He just smiled.

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