As usual, a delayed posting of what is already posted a Legends Undying. The first three chapters can be read HERE. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 can be read HERE. Chapters 7, 8, and 9 can be read HERE. Chapters 10, 11, and 12 can be read HERE. Chapters 13, 14, 15, and 16 can be read HERE.
The story so far: At the creation of things and men, the Angels saw (and took) the opportunity to make a power play, and cast Demons as the bad guys (tricking humans into naming The First, a demon, as disobeying HE That Was (God’s) edict about staying away from The Garden and Humans).
Demons and humans were both exiled. Demons were cursed to only feed on the (souls, entities, memories, etc) of corrupt men, making it seem as if demons corrupted men to feed on them. In actuality, it was the stories weaved by Angels which corrupt men. They do so by using guilt induced by religious beliefs. Angels were too successful with that; religion partially corrupts the pious as well. The feeding itself, for both Angels and Demons, is not to much stealing, but as absorbing people’s memories/thoughts/emotions.
There are unbelievers, and their unbelief removes them as candidates for feeding. The Angels are waging war on the unbelievers, both by direct and indirect action. The man who is Shadow (named after he became so) is an unbeliever who lost his family to an Angel. The First is summoned to the unbeliever as the man grieves the loss of his wife and kids. The man’s anger feeds the energy/power to such a level the First sees an opportunity to perhaps have a powerful ally to challenge the Angels.
The First undertakes the process of “creating” a being which is both the essence/mind of the man, and a part of himself. In some ways, it parallels the idea of Christ being the same as god, and also the son of god. Peripherally, I justify the parallel using the interpretation that Iesous (greek for Jesus) was an archangel elevated above other angels (some readings of the bible can be interpreted as such).
Shadow is not comfortable with enlisting the aid of other demons, and instead recruits humans as helpers. The story of one human is recounted, and we are introduced to one of the sentient swords. Shadow wants to enlist the swords, to bring them back into the realm of men, to bond with humans as they once did, and help his recruits stave off the angels.
The swords agree, for they too have a score to settle with Angels, and we follow one sword bonding with a human. Their preparation is quickly tested as they confront Michael himself, wielding his sword. Shadow responds, coming to the aid of the pair, but it is a trap, set by Michael. As Shadow challenges Michael, more angels appear, some forty strong. When Shadow brings forth Sable Slayer, Michael retreats, even as he commands the others to attack.
Shadow prevents Michael from leaving, and takes on Michael and the rest of the angels. Sable gets to destroy the sword that had once marred her edge. Shadow then engulfs Michael, all the angels, and disappears. That’s when a second wave of angels arrive, and find Joe and Lena guarding the girl. Joe and Lena repel one attack, but then one of the angels distracts Joe by reminding him of how his wife dies. Once distracted, the angel easily takes physical control of Joe, and consequently of Lena. Gloating, the angel details to Joe how his wife dies, and implies the same fate for Lena. This awakes a cold hatred in Joe, so much so that he regains control of Lena, and he destroys the angel just as Shadow returns. Shadow takes care of all the remaining angels, saves one, which he sends back to The Christ with a message; “meet me in battle, or be hunted like dogs”.
The story picks up at the confrontation.
The Fall of Angels (Chapters 17-20, Epilogue)
By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright December 2012, February 2013
Chapter Seventeen – The Field of Battle
Shadow and Ice stood on the crest of a dune. The sand still hot, the sun was now at their backs, and low on the horizon. Ahead of them, a host of angels approached.
“Just out of curiosity, how many can you handle?” Ice did not ask out of fear, or apprehension of the coming fight. His question was driven purely by curiosity. He had the distinct impression Shadow had yet to show his full potential. Or maybe, each successive encounter let him reach deeper within him, expanding his abilities to meet the threat.
“I could wipe them from existence . . . but more would take their place.” Shadow did not have to turn around for his awareness to register the angels appearing at their backs.
He looked at Ice, smiled, and continued. “Hence, my fight is with their source. The angels are your responsibility.”
Alerted by Lena, Ice looked around. The light from the angels more than made up for the fading sunlight. “I appreciate your confidence, and I’m really flattered, but . . . “
Shadow interrupted him. “You and the others.” He turned to look out at the angels, now within a stone’s throw of their position.
Angels literally leaped in mid-air at the words, for among them appeared, in groups of five, humans dressed in black. Some groups were near, some far, evenly distributed among the angels. Each man and each woman carried a sword, and in each group, they formed a pentagonal formation, protecting each other’s flanks and backs. Within a few seconds, what had been an unbroken sea of white was now dotted with small clearings in which humans and sentient swords stood in silence.
Ice surveyed the changing field of battle. “Ninjas?” He could not resist asking, nor doing so without the accompanying smile.
“You are not the only one who found the inner strength to be more. To be a Guardian.” Shadow did not look around as Ice did. He knew the exact number of Guardians. He continued. “Not all, but of the initial recruits, eighteen-hundred have made the transition. They come from all around the world, and you and they will . . . “ Shadow did not finish, turning instead to his left.
A figure separated from the angels, and called out. “You think these mortals are a match for me?” The figure grew three-fold, and reached his hand above him, calling down a sword comprised of intertwined lightning bolts. Grasping it, he lowered it swiftly to strike the sand, forming a sizable glass-lined crater in the process.
“Cool!” Ice’s response was involuntary. He was, after all, still a geek. A powerful and deadly geek, but a geek nonetheless.
Chapter Eighteen – Betrayal
“The Christ himself.” Shadow bowed slightly, and continued. “It is an honor to finally meet you.” The sarcasm in his tone left no doubt it was anything but.
“We shall end this foolishness here, and you will be but a memory. No; not even that, because none of these humans will survive, and no one else will ever know of your efforts!” As he spoke, The Christ grew larger still, and more radiant.
“You know, the story of your death was interesting. Personally, I don’t think the Romans put their hearts into getting the job done.” As Shadow spoke, a thin barrier of smoke spread outward, circling to each side, and rising above The Christ. Thin as it was, it still absorbed a good portion of the light, and it rose as a semicircular wall as it slowly continued encircling The Christ.
Except it suddenly stopped. It stopped against a barrier of smoke. At the same time, dark shapes began appearing. The angels spread out a bit, allowing room for the demons to stand at their side as they confronted each group of humans.
The First materialized next to The Christ.
“I see the creatures of Fire and Smoke kept their word.” Shadow did not seem surprised at the appearance of The First. “I guess my polite request to stay out of it overshadowed whatever promise or threats you made?” It had, in fact, not been a polite request. Fire and Smoke creatures were not going to appear anytime soon.
“They shall be dealt with . . . “
“I’m speaking to The First.” Shadow interrupted The Christ, and stepped forward, addressing The First. “I sensed it, you know. I am, in part, you. I sensed where your loyalties lie. It was why I did not want to use demons.”
The First drew himself up. Alone, he would not have dared, but this was a more even field of battle. He was still uneasy at his inability to take full measure of Shadow, but here, next to him, stood The Christ.
He spoke slowly and loudly, and Shadow realized it was for the benefit of the angels and demons assembled, and perhaps to intimidate the humans. “You aim to take on HE That Was, God Himself.” He dramatically looked around, and continued. “It is surely a doomed endeavor, but even if not, even if you stood a chance, HE is the Creator of all of us. But for HIM, we would not exist.”
The First drew closer to the smoke barrier. Pointing a finger at Shadow, he continued. “Who are you to challenge the Creator?”
Shadow let the echoes of the words fade before answering. “I am Man.”
Chapter Nineteen – Shadow’s Wrath
It happened fast. Shadow’s wall of smoke broke through The First’s barrier, and completely encircled both The First and The Christ. The top of the circular wall of smoke began to curl in on itself, the thin, gossamer-like wall began to contract, even as The Christ swung his lightning sword, and The First’s own darkness rose to meet it. The lightning struck the thin membrane, but did not penetrate it, running along it like a spider web, but only a small bolt escaped the top before it closed.
Everyone could see the two beings inside fighting to claw their way out. But only for a moment. The wall of smoke went completely black, and in the span of a few breaths, it was but the size of a child’s ball, then a marble, then a pin-hole, literally drawing air, light, and the very fabric of reality toward itself.
Then it was gone.
Angels and demons alike stood transfixed, staring at the solitary figure of an ordinary-looking man next to where, but an instant before, had stood two of the most powerful beings the universe had ever known.
Chapter Twenty – The Reckoning
The word echoed in the minds of all present. Angels and demons alike cowered where they stood. The Guardians stood their ground.
A small point of light appeared, and grew in brilliance. It grew to an indistinct shape, and stood in front of Shadow.
“Enough!” It repeated, still sounding as if in the mind of all.
The shape hovered in front of Shadow.
“You go beyond yourself! You were never meant to destroy the balance. Merely broaden the conflict.”
Shadow held Sable in front of him. “Thank you.” Upon him speaking the words, Sable began to fade, and with a small flash, was gone.
“What’s the matter? Did you not see it coming?” As he spoke, Shadow began to pace in front of the shape. Left, turn, then right, never taking his eyes from the shape. “I thought you knew all that was, all that will be.”
“Impertinent halfling!” Still in their mind, everyone flinched a bit at the ferocity of the the voice. “I created you. I summoned The First to you, and I helped The First in bonding with your original mind to give birth to you, to what you are now.” The shimmering shape never moved, but there was the sense of a presence tracking Shadow’s pacing.
“You were supposed to balance The Christ, not destroy him!”
“I figured it out. I was more than The First could have made me. But why?” Shadow continued his pacing. “Why go to all that trouble?”
“Still a man, I see. Curiosity abounds. The desire to understand. The desire to know meaning.” If god had such a thing as a disdainful tone, that was it.
“Well, get used to disappointment! I don’t have to explain myself to you; I had my own reasons.” The shape now grew to encircle Shadow, and additional tendrils of shimmering light flowed like lava toward the pockets of humans.
Unperturbed, Shadow resumed speaking. “You know, I started wondering about you. I wondered what drive would propel your actions; I think you are as curious about the purpose of your existence as humans are about theirs. You see, I thought about creating humans as thinkers. I believe they serve as mirrors of your quest for the meaning of your own existence, of your search for a purpose. An experiment of sorts. Could this race of thinkers, despite their struggles, or maybe because of them, arrive at the understanding of who they are, why they exist? We were not made in your own image, where we? We were made in the image of your mind.” Shadow had stopped pacing, and even as the shape closed in around him, and the tendrils were beginning to encircle all the humans standing with their swords drawn, he stood there, looking to all as a very ordinary man.
Shadow continued. “That’s why the sick, the rich, the strong, the week, the powerful, the dictators, the different religions, the different gods, atheists, fanatics . . . nothing more than variables. Humans struggled, and in doing so pondered the ultimate question. They pondered it for you.”
“Perhaps.” The voice had an edge of surprise to it, but also a great deal of annoyance. “But whatever the reason, you’ve ruined it, and this ‘experiment’, as you call it, is now over.”
Even as the the translucent shape began to engulf Shadow, he continued. “But you made us too smart, didn’t you? Humans began to figure things out. To take control; of themselves, of their bodies and minds, and of their environments. They veered away from the big questions, from asking why, and concentrated on improving the life they had.”
Most of the pockets of Guardians were already engulfed, and Shadow nearly so. Still, he continued. “That’s why angels and demons. They maintain the chaos, gather data for you, force situations conducive to struggling, and in struggling, humans ponder ‘why’.”
Shadow’s last word was cut off as he was completely engulfed. His enclosure, and that of the Guardians, began to contract.
They all heard it.
“You are wrong, you know.” It was now Shadow’s voice in their minds, and even as it spoke, the translucence of the shape began to change, showing small dark spots at first, and then large dark shapes on its surface. “You are wrong on two counts. First, the experiment is not over. It’s just no longer under your control.”
The shape flashed, and then resumed its change toward darkness. The enclosures around the humans broke open, and began receding toward the central shape. Shadow continued. “Second, you failed to consider your own creation.”
“My own creation?”
“Yes, before light, there was darkness. Even before you, there was nothing. That is what I am, and that is where you will return, and I will take you there.”
“Joe . . . Ice . . . all of you; this is now your world. The angels and demons are your fight, but what I can give you is a level playing ground.” Shadows words were calm, and all hear them.
“Fool!” The voice sounded strained, as if in a struggle, as indeed it must have been. “The seed is planted. Humans will always be subject to their fears, their doubt, their insecurities.”
“As you sure? . . . Perhaps. Perhaps not. But one thing they will do, is follow their own path. Right or wrong, their destiny will be their own, and not shaped by the whims of gods.” With that, the shape went completely black, and after a few seconds, began to dissipate, and was gone.
“Seems anticlimactic . . . “ Joe had said the words out loud, and was surprised to hear a private answer.
“I ran out of cool ways to do this. Besides, nothing from nothing, and then returning to nothing, should be bland.” Shadow spoke as if he were in Joe’s head.
Just before it was no more, Shadow’s voice was heard by all, resonating among the dunes.
“Destroy them all . . . they are but thoughts of an insecure mind.”
The battle was fierce, and many escaped by finding refuge between time. But many, many more were destroyed where they stood. No humans, and no swords, were lost. As the light of dawn washed over the battleground, The Guardians stood victorious in a field of shapes slowly consumed by the light of a new age.
Joe walked to the middle of the foot-bridge, leaned on the railing, and looked down at the ducks, geese, and two swans feeding. When he leaned on the railing, some of the birds casually made their way to his location. They loitered for a moment, and on realizing he had brought no food for them, went back to their foraging.
“He is here.” Lena’s voice warned him even as he heard the footsteps.
The two men stood silent, contemplating the peaceful scene before them.
“So, how goes it?” Joe broke the silence first.
“It goes.” Ed pulled a bag from his coat pocket, and after undoing the twist tie, reached in, grabbed some seed, and threw it on the water. Ducks, geese, and swans rushed to the feed.
“You know how tough it was to get everyone back home?” Joe tried to sound annoyed, but there was mirth in his voice. “Eighteen-hundred people! You could have transported them back home; at the very least, you could have made arrangements beforehand.”
“Yeah . . .I was a little busy.”
Joe looked at his friend. Ed looked much older. Perhaps ‘tired’ was a better word.
“Still struggling?” Joe’s question was asked as he too reached into the bag for some feed.
“Yes . . . he won’t give it up. I think he has a god complex . . . “
They looked at each other, and broke up, laughing.
“Thanks,” Joe spoke as he wiped a tear of laughter from his eye, “I needed that.”
He continued.“So, why the meeting? Are you coming back?”
Ed shook his head. “No, and in fact, I don’t have much time. I was just wondering how the war is going.”
Joe’s tone went serious. “Mostly OK. They went underground. They manipulate public opinion, news stories . . . you know their drill; it’s what they are good at. We hunt them down, but it takes time . . . they are surprisingly good at blending in among regular people.”
“I guess we both have a tough job . . . “ For a brief moment, Ed looked and spoke more like Shadow. “Ice, I’m entrusting you with something else. The Guardians . . . they are good people, but some will be tempted to take advantage of what they know, of their strength. You have to contain . . . eliminate those who do. Their swords might warn you, but some swords will just leave.”
Joe looked at his friend for a moment before asking. “How many? How many have you entrusted this to?”
“Just you.” Shadow’s face grew darker.
Joe hesitated, but then asked the question. “And if I turn? Who will eliminate me?”
In answer, Shadow’s smile was both pained and sad.
“I thought so.” Joe looked at his friend. “You don’t have to worry about me. Lena will keep me on the straight and narrow.”
“Damn right!” Lena chimed in.
Ed smiled, turned, and walked away. To Joe, it looked as if his shoulders slumped a bit, as if carrying a heavy burden. It’s not easy to put a god back in its place, and keep him there.
~ The End ~
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