I knelt at the feet of an angel. He touched my shoulder gently.
“It is done, my disciple. God has found us out.” He laughed bitterly. I looked up, and saw in his eyes a wild fear.
“Lucifiel…what will happen?” I asked quietly. Black wings shifted and enveloped me in a warm, musty cocoon. I touched the feathers lightly in respect. Raven’s wings. I found myself wondering why I chose him over God, but the feeling washed away after Lucifiel stood. I remained on my knees until he gestured for me to stand. He took my hand as God called us to the Gathering hall.
We stood looking at Him from a round dais in the middle of the Hall. The Lord sat in His throne slightly above us. I bowed, acknowledging His status, then stood as close to Lucifiel as possible. Lucifiel did not bow at all, merely inclined his head slightly.
“Explain yourselves. Now.” God ordered, looking slightly heated. Luce and I looked at each other much like guilty children caught playing with fire.
“Father, I-“ I was cut off by a swift chop of the Lord’s hand.
“Lucifiel, you first.” He said firmly. I dropped to my knees from exhaustion and to remove myself from scrutiny. Lucifiel shrugged and laid a hand on my head as if claiming ownership of me. I sat there in the silence that stretched, staring at God’s feet and wishing Lucifiel would say something, anything. The Lord stood and I counted His steps as He walked toward Lucifiel. ‘Eight. Nine…’ I counted quietly.
“Lyse.” A great hand fell onto my shoulder softly. I looked up only to return my gaze to the floor, away from the eyes that went on forever behind the deep blue-gray orbs. “Rise, you do not bow to him.” The Voice was strong behind this request but for the first time in my existence I felt it roll off like water from a duck’s back.
“No.” The word hung in the air for a moment and God released my shoulder in surprise.
“Do you challenge me?” The Lord’s voice was dangerously quiet.
“ My Lord, I…I do…bow to Lucifiel…now.” I whispered with eyes locked on the floor. The very air grew cold as God backed away from us. He sat on his throne with a disappointed sigh.
“It has come to this.” He murmured in a voice I had never heard before. The voice of a father who’d lost his children. Lucifiel stepped forward in a very self assured manor, his eyes locked onto God’s.
“Yes, Father, it has. Time to step down.” Lucifiel demanded. I could feel the energy between the two crackling with tension. I stood then started to back away, their auras together making my skin prickle.
“Lucifiel, don’t start this. You won’t like where it will end.” The Lord stated simply.
“Father,” Lucifiel started in a patronizing tone, “It is you who won’t like the outcome.” He grinned then pointed a finger back at me without turning around, “Lyse, stay.” He ordered in a calm voice. I froze at the edge of the dais obediently without even thinking.
“No, Lyasiel. You may go, for now.” God told me with a stern glance. At Lucifiel’s nod, I bowed to both of them and fled the Gathering Hall. I stopped just outside the castle doors and sank to the ground against the wall in the gardens. The half-breed child was playing there, as she usually did. I put my head in my hands as I watched her go to each flower and whisper a secret to it. She was starting to grow in her flight feathers now, as my daughter had last year. I blinked away tears, covering my face with my hands in misery. She was gone. I flinched as two small hands wrapped around my wrists lightly, making me think of butterflies, and tugged softly. I looked up at the little angel and tried to recover.
“Hey, kiddo. The roses tell you anything fun today?” I asked with a small smile. This one seemed to love the flowers.
“I’m sorry Cryssiel is gone. It was coz of me. She got mad at me.” She told me. I shook my head.
“No, Visakata. That wasn’t your fault.” I said resolutely. She looked at me with a gaze similar to the Lord’s and shrugged.
“Uncle Michael was looking for you.” She kept her hands on my wrist.
“Thanks, I’ll find him in a bit…just gonna sit here for a little while.” My voice trembled as I fought for control over myself.
“You need to find him now. He’s…just go an’ find him.” Visakata’s aura flooded me for a moment, reminding me of Lucifiel. I found myself wondering who this little one really was. I nodded and took a shaky breath.
“Alright, sweet pea. I promise to find Michael. But I do need to rest here for a moment, ok? You go ahead and play.” I shut my eyes and drew in another breath. Visakata sat with me and put her hand in mine. A thin trickle of energy entered my palm and I gasped, looking at her in surprise. She smiled up at me, God in her eyes and Lucifiel in her grin. The energy from her hand rushed up my arm.
“Don’t be sad, Lyasiel. You find Michael and I’ll go see Daddy.” She gripped my hand a little harder when I started to pull away. Tendrils of her energy touched my mind and I blinked as it attempted to connect like the link I had allowed Lucifiel to place on me. It was his version of the Voice. I pushed away her energy delicately. Though her energy permitted me to direct it out of my mind, I could tell that she had grown stronger than me already. I saw now why God had decided to raise her as His heir.
“Visakata, you and I both know that trying to join consciousness without permission is not allowed. Only Father can do that. And only those who outrank us can do so with permission. Ok?” I tugged her hand from mine and rested my head back against the wall. ‘And too many of such links would drive me insane.’ I added silently.
“Daddy said I could take an Attendant. Anyone I wanted…that’s not an archangel…or Seraphim.” She pouted up at me.
“And I’m a Power so I fit the bill, huh?” I laugh gently, and then shake my head. “I’m honored that you would think of me. But you still need to ask first, silly. A Pledge needs to be given willingly, right?” I glanced towards the Gathering Hall and felt a slight thrill of fear. “I’d love to attend you, but I don’t think Father will allow it…He and Luce and I are in the middle of something kinda big right now.”
“I’ll go talk to Daddy.” She stood up and ran off to the Gathering Hall.
“No, Visakata! Wait! Father is busy!” I chased after her, wings spread in alarm. ‘Busy dealing with Lucifiel…and it’s dangerous.’
I caught up to Visakata right in front of God’s throne. The energies between God and Lucifiel sparked potently. They both looked at the child, then me. I bowed and reached for Visakata’s arm, but Lucifiel grabbed her first.
“And this little one will help me.” Lucifiel grinned up at God, and then flew up and out of a window leading into the castle. I looked at God apologetically, and then leapt towards the window as I spread my wings. He caught my ankle with a hard, angry hand.
“You are staying here.” He growled at me angrily. I folded my wings and dropped like a stone into his waiting arms. He gripped my shoulders and glared at me.
“My Lord, forgive me, but we haven’t time. I know where he’s taking her. Please, Father, let me go. She is in serious danger. I promise I’ll bring her back to you.” I hung in his grasp tensely. God enveloped me with his aura, burning out Lucifiel’s link to me. I cried out in anguish, struggling against Him.
“Go. We will discuss your disobedience later.” He placed me onto the ground and pointed at the window.
“Yes Father. Than-thank you.” I choked back tears of pain and threw myself into the air to give chase to Lucifiel.
"Luce wait!" I zoomed after him, dodging pillars and doorways. "Please!" Just ahead a dark shape paused in flight, then shot down into a well. I followed, trusting my wings to fit through the narrow opening. If Luce could, I could.
"Quiet, child. Don't try your stunts with me." Lucifiel's voice carried from the Abyss. I gasped and tumbled into the water at the bottom, completely soaking my feathers.
"Help!" I started to sink as my wings weighed me down. A hand grabbed my hair and I was flung onto a small, sandy outcropping.
"Lyse, you're hopeless sometimes. A Power should move more gracefully than that, you know." Lucifiel landed next to me and set Visakata on the ground. She ran to me and clung tightly to my arm.
"Thanks. It’s just that…Father broke our link, I'm still a little wobbly.” I picked up Visakata and checked her over. “You ok, Vee? I’m sure Lucifiel didn’t mean to scare you.”
“How dare he? You’re MINE!” Lucifiel punched the stone wall, fuming.
“She’s mine, brother. Daddy said I could have an Attending, and Lyasiel is mine.” The young girl piped up as her aura pulsed powerfully around me. I shook water off my wings with a wince.
“Hold on now, we need to talk to Father about that, ok?” I made a small calming gesture at Lucifiel as he clenched his fists. “The Fairest and I have a project we’re working on, and I have to complete that before I can do anything else. It’s very important.” I glanced at Lucifiel and he nodded in approval.
“Come, we have a job to do. Bring the little one.” Lucifiel started walking deeper into the Abyss. I started forward, and then froze. God was summoning me.
“Luce…I…can’t. He’s using the Voice on me. I’m sorry.” I hopped sloppily into the air as God’s compulsory summons took control.
“Fight it!” Lucifiel grabbed for me and missed.
“I can’t! I have to take her back. I promised.” My wings took me higher and we set off for the Gathering Hall at a speed I had never reached before. Lucifiel had no chance of keeping up. Visakata clung to my neck, giggling the whole way. Once I entered the Hall, the summons faded and I plunged to the ground, curling myself around the child to protect her. We landed in a tangled heap of arms, legs, and wings.
“Daddy!” Visakata extracted herself and ran to God, laughing happily. A small groan escaped my lips as I rolled onto my back, and then lay still.
“Ouch.” One of my wings bent at a sickening angle. It was definitely broken. I closed my eyes dejectedly as God picked me up tenderly. He touched the wing, examining it.
“This is what happens when you don’t obey me, Lyasiel. I want you safe. Everything I ask of you is for your benefit. Do you understand?” God put me down on something soft. A pillow, I assumed. I nodded silently and curled up into a ball.
“Daddy, can I do it? Please?” Small hands rested on my arm eagerly. ‘Do what?’ I wondered.
“No. Go play. Lyasiel will be fine.” God responded to Visakata lightly. Pattering footsteps left the Gathering Hall and I sighed softly.
“I’m sorry. It was my fault she got involved.” My voice was thin and barely audible.
“Hold still.” God ordered. Hearing none of his usual warmth, I froze fearfully. Was He going to obliterate me as he did with Cryssiel? Sudden pain flared through my wing and into my back. I let out a short scream, and then silenced myself as I realized that there was no pain at all, and that my wing wasn’t even broken. I sat up in shock.
“Father, what…just happened?”
“You are now whole. Please try to be more careful.” God sat on His throne as I stretched out my wings from my pillow at His feet.
“You aren’t going to…have me…destroyed?” I crouched a little.
“But I…was disloyal to you.”
“Father…” I tilted my head, confused. “I don’t understand.”
“You don’t need to. Just obey.” God leaned down and cupped my chin. “You and Lucifiel are on probation. Both of you will attend me. If you fail to do as you are told, there will be dire consequences. Is that clear?” God eyed me as His anger filled the room. I nodded and flopped onto the pillow in exhaustion. As sleep slowly took me, Lucifiel burst into the Gathering Hall. I tried to move, but found all strength sapped from my body.
“You have no right to take her from me! What are you doing to her?” Lucifiel’s angry voice faded as God guided him into the anteroom behind his throne.
“She’s being reset. As for you…” God’s voice was cut off as the door closed behind them. ‘Reset? What does that mean?’ I had barely enough time to form a panicked thought before the heavy curtain of sleep fell on me.
I awoke suddenly to the sound of trumpets. Disoriented, I looked around the room and found Lucifiel asleep on a large sofa. The scent of lavender filled the air and I sneezed. A huge desk took up most of the space. God's office, I realized. We WERE in trouble. I slid off my chair and crawled up onto the couch to curl up next to Lucifiel. He put his arm around me protectively, still asleep. I closed my eyes, wondering what we were doing in here. The door opened, then closed. A wooden chair creaked as somebody sat down at the desk.
"Alright, Lyasiel. You first, since you're awake." God spoke softly, but firmly. I stretched and sat up, easing out from under Lucifiel's arm. God nodded at a hard wooden stool in front of the desk. After a deep breath, I moved to the stool and folded my hands into my lap anxiously.
"Feeling rested?" God asked as he wrote something down. I shrugged wordlessly, head down. This was the most time I'd ever spent in his presence and I found it emotionally draining.
"Did you truly swear your service to Lucifiel?" God asked as He glanced at the seraphim on the couch. I nodded and stared at my feet.
"Speak young Power." God ordered as the Voice gently nudged me.
"Yes, Lord." I responded quietly.
"Tell me why."
"After Cryssiel was...gone...I was...I couldn't..." I shook my head, burying my face into my hands. "Lucifiel promised a way to make the hurt stop. That we could make a place where nobody would be...removed...like that."
"Is that all?"
"No. He cares...more..." I couldn't bring myself to finish.
"More than I do about you." God finished for me.
"Yes. I mean...no…about the creation. All of it...” I took a shuddering sigh, falling silent. God nodded and after a brief pause He opened a small silver book.
"I must make this clear. You are allowed free will, much like the humans. However, unlike them, you also have privileges and abilities that they will never obtain. Because of this, your duty is to remain loyal to my will without question. They can make serious mistakes and recover without much fuss. You have less room to do so. A Power’s responsibility is to guard the Host and Creation against such things. Do you agree so far?" White light emanated from the pages as He flipped through them.
“Yes, Lord.” The pages took on a blue-green hue at my answer. He rested the book open a little more than halfway through and studied the page. I sat up a little straighter to peer at the book and He snapped His fingers at me. I recoiled back onto the stool with a frown.
“Good.” The Lord shifted his attention back to me and I trembled slightly. ‘Luce, wake up. Please.’ But he did not respond to my mental plea.
“Father, what is a ‘Reset’ for? I heard you tell Lucifiel I was getting one. Is Lucifiel doing one too?” I wrung my hands nervously. He shut the book sharply and pushed it aside.
“You both have become emotionally unstable. A reset is to help you recover from the traumas that you experienced. Consider it a clean slate or a second chance. And yes, Lucifiel is being reset as well.” The Lord answered in a voice closer to the kind tone I was accustomed to.
“I don’t feel any different.” I looked up at Him in slight confusion.
“It’s not supposed to feel different. I’m not going to change you, or your decisions. However, you clearly need support. That is all a reset is, my child.” God folded His hands on the desk and I nodded, feeling like He was leaving something unsaid.
“Do you have any other questions, young Power?” God had picked up on my unease. I shook my head, deciding I didn’t want to know. He pulled the book back to the center of His desk and flipped back to the page He was on.
“Then we shall continue.” The Lord turned the page, and then focused on my face. I squinted a little, finding the light reflecting off God suddenly harshly bright. Never before had celestial light bothered me. A pit of concern grew in my stomach.
“May I lay down, Father? I don’t feel well.” I doubled over and rested my head on my knees.
“You may, but you must pay attention.” The Lord got up and led me to the reclining chair I had woken up in.
“Thank you, my Lord.” I settled into the chair, eyes shut tight against the radiance. God returned to His desk and I heard the book being opened once more.
“Lyasiel, do you trust in me?”
“I…want to. You’re our Father…but it’s hard now, after Cryssiel was taken.” I responded slowly.
“Yes, or no?” The Lord probed further. I fidgeted a little and sighed softly.
“No.” At my admission, a flash of red briefly punctuated the darkness of my closed eyes. I flinched, expecting His wrath to descend upon me. “I’m sorry! I really want to!”
“Relax. I want the truth from you, not empty compliments. You will not be punished for telling me your true feelings.” God’s voice was gentle and I took a deep, calming breath.
I lay silently, willing Lucifiel to awaken so I wouldn't have to be alone.
"Do you love yourself as I have loved you?" The Lord's query made me open my eyes to look at Him in confusion. I squinted in the light and shrugged.
"I don't know?" The brightness in the room dimmed somewhat and I sat up slowly. "I don't understand."
"Oh my child...if you do not understand love, we have a bigger problem than your loyalty."
"I...I love you and Luce and Michael? But...I don't know what you mean. I can't love myself like you love me. I don't think. You love us, I know. But then...then you erase us or expect us to do things that hurt or make us sad. I'm not sure I love myself like that." I stared at the silver book as the pages went through an array of colors before settling on a dull red glow. God turned a page and centered his gaze upon me.
“I love you no matter where you are or what you do. If you love my Creation, you know my love. When you do not, you reject me. Do you love yourself as I have created you?” God briefly looked at Lucifiel.
"I..." Nausea swept over me and I retched. "I can't." Loving myself felt selfish. Not loving myself felt like a betrayal. God made a note in the book as Lucifiel sat up suddenly. I sighed in relief. Lucifiel looked from the book to God to me.
"Don't do that to her. She doesn't deserve such cruelty." Lucifiel stood and placed himself between God and me.
"He's not hurting me, Fairest. It's okay." I touched his wing hesitantly.
"Stand aside, Seraphim." God waved His hand and Lucifiel was swept onto the couch. I gasped, then jumped to my feet as Lucifiel sputtered in anger. He growled and launched himself at The Lord to hover in His face.
"We are not your playthings, Father." Lucifiel hissed dangerously. God raised His hand to grab at Lucifiel's arm.
"Stop! Please!" I tugged Lucifiel onto the ground and buried my face into his wings. "This ISN'T what love is either!" The book's light went to a neutral white hue. God took a deep breath and turned the page.
"Both of you sit. Now." He gestured to two wooden stools in front of the desk. I hesitated, and then sat as Lucifiel grudgingly lowered himself onto one.
"We are not playing your game anymore. I am just as strong as you and I can make this Creation into what it was supposed to be." Lucifiel glowered as I clasped my hands together anxiously.
"Silence." The Lord ordered, his lips set into a hard frown. "You are my Seraphim. Your duty is to obey without question and to honor my will. You burn out corruption in the unjust. Do you refuse this?"
“You are corrupted, Father. And now you must step down.” Lucifiel sat forward, his aura crackling with energy. “If you don’t, I will make you.” Lucifiel’s eyes flashed and he clenched his fists. I shrunk mentally, trying to become invisible.
“Seraphim, you are treading on dangerous ground.” God jabbed a finger at the book as the light around it pulsed darkly. “Do you deny my Will?”
“I will fight you until Creation is mine.” Lucifiel stood angrily. “We will take you down.”
“And you, Lyasiel? Do you deny me as well?” The Lord asked me gently. I paused, looking between Him and Lucifiel before bowing my head.
“Yes. I’m sorry, but I do.” Tears leaked from my eyes, as the room grew cold.
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