I gasped, struggling for breath; at my heels bit a hoard of demons, screaming, yowling for my blood with the super demon leige himself leading the charge, Perseus.
Two years had passed. No Colus.
It never let up. Not once. Not a single day went by that I had a moment to rest from this mess, with the only difference being a few hours per week that I hid, that I could catch as much sleep as I dared. I had been captured too many times to count, I'd been declared every cursed name under the sun. I was hated, despised, and the world knew my name once again, but only as the insidious demonic spy for the angels. As far as everyone understood, i never did any good for these demons. I never cared for them. Never put my neck on the line to make sure their safety wasn't in jeopardy. No. Everything was demoted down that whatever good I had done for them, was to profit the angels somehow. That's the lie he spun.
The Colus was gone. On very rare, random occasions, it'd wisp up for a fraction of a second, but fall away just as quickly. I never had a spare moment. I never had a chance to breathe, relax, set up shop somewhere else and start living a new type of life. No, I was chased by everything, and everyone. I didn't see Cempe or Aisa, I couldn't talk with Michael. I grew paranoid, distrusting of every living, breathing thing. Angels still hated me. Demons hated me. I hung on by a string to the same stupid kind of notion that I did before, by chasing a thought. Ian.
Needless to say, no Ian. Not that I wished for the bugger to end up in hell, but I had to default that he'd gone to heaven instead. It'd been five years now, and regardless of how long it took your ass to end up sentient in hell, he should've been around by now. I checked. Especially that first year, I came back every week or two, would snoop around in hell, like I'd get a lucky break and find him just standing there, waiting for the bus. I don't know where my thought process had been in these years, but just hoping on something and looking for someone made time alone more bearable. If he had gone to heaven, then good for him, I suppose. With the colus, I probably could've gone up and checked. But here, now, and like this, I was helpless to wonder and figure out my own answers without basis. But I still wanted to see him and more importantly, apologize.
Overhead, the dull, even whoosh of wind turbine blades muted sounds every half second, driving that annoying pulse of exhaustion, of a tangible , audible amount of time that was passing. Their cries would break through, encouraging their troops; Perseus's assistant did most of the yelling while the jackass himself showboated, riding these creepy demon steeds I could only describe as giant spider-horses, six legs and eight eyes each. I'd seen a few of them here and there in the ranks in my reign, but kept them stationed far away from me, just out of personal request because they used to freak me out. Long, proboscis like tongue darting from Perseus's steed's mouth returned those feelings to me as I darted slightly ahead, cursing under my breath.
"Ya always do this, you always get caught in these damn situations. You think there's someone who's not going to call the demon-police on you, that's not going to..." I missed a footstep, stumbling back towards the ravenous masses as their roar perked up in excitement, dulling back down as I inched ever so slowly ahead once again. Looking down the advancing row was nothing but demons; huffing for breath and looking the other way told me there was the end of the hoard, but it was about a half mile down. Growling, clenching my eyes shut I continued forwards, desperate. "That's not going to... SELL YOUR ASS OUT... and they do! You idiot! Stop falling for these flimsy ploys! If your disgraced self gets away from this...." I shut my mouth and kept running, looking around desperately for an out. How the hell did it get to this?
It was all due to him. Perseus had gotten good at what he did. They loved him. They ate up that "messenger fell from the stars to prophet and lead them from the darkness" line and treated him like such, that didn't surprise me. A person can be a genius, brilliant thing, its people as a group which are disproportionately dumb. Hell, that's how I did it as well, I shouldn't complain. Except when Perseus wasn't just sending troops after the angels to ban them from the earth, he also sent them after me. Like now.
As I understood it, he'd been using my energy, my influence to do a lot of his bidding. No monstery form like I did with the Colus, he mostly used it for displays, or to do things. Not for fighting. This was another thing the crowds adored, that he kept himself so close to their ranks and their ways of fighting, he never alienated his troops. In retrospect, I should've seen that happening and done the same. But now, his biggest push was in keeping up his promise to rid my hobbled corpse from this earth. Of course people ate that up too.
I managed to see the dickbag fight one of the higher-up angels once, in a battle. I stood far out on the field, halfway up a tree, leering from the branches like a stalker. He'd gotten better. Much better. His strikes were no longer wild, they were precise and calculated, impressive. Occasionally the Colus thread would whip up for a parry he couldn't quite get to in time, or slash bits off the other combatant, but it was never the main offensive weapon like I had used it. He did a good job in that time with managing my spot.
That thought drove me absolutely up the wall. It starved my stability living like this, watching someone do my job better with barely any effort. That in order to rile the troops, to keep them happy like this, it was something easy and simple, and I'd been too bullheaded to see it myself.
My intel from the angel's side told me that they'd heard about the healing demons. How that ransacked their ideals that only Angels had that privilege. That if they died, they had a backup, a re-do up in heaven and could come back down and fight again; they took a lot of pride into being able to have that. Finding out demons now had the same capabilities, without believing their same creed, bred chaos. Rumors told me that Heaven, while not an outright riot and mass tangle of swords, was the less stable of the two afterlife universes to live in. That small, quickly subdued revolts had been popping up.
Thinking on it myself, I looked up at my notched horn between strides, remembering. Perseus did steal some of my energy from me, that was established; it wasn't a lie that the assistant had spit out, it had truth to it. But even so, I should've been able to produce more, to harness more of it; that's where this little illness, same thing that Adonis had ( I went back and explained it to the hunched over stone man guarding Zeus's temple a year back) came in. Same symptoms; the guy gave me a list of what was to happen, or at least what he had seen. Loss of external energy was the first, which for me, was losing the colus. Secondly, I'd lose the ability to regenerate my demonic aspects
Yesterday, while fighting with one demon and his somewhat sharp sword, cut a wedge out of one of my horns , about four inches down. With the given time from then, to now, it hadn't healed. I tried to will it back to it's full glory, tried to keep denying this was happening. I'd gotten pretty good with this, wandered those two years just thinking there was a cure I hadn't found yet. That there was an end to this suffering that required me to chant the right words and eat the right fruit. Something simple. It was starting to sink in now, though, just starting to creep into my brain that in a few months, if it kept progressing like this, I'd be dead, for good. But playing ignorant made days a lot more bearable to live through.
So the extras would go next. From then, they'd fall off completely, then my sanity would start to go, then my health, then the end. That was the time-line I was given to sit with, to choke on and trying to pull a working, happy self from that. I mostly ignored that fact and focused on trying to stay alive. It distracted me enough to not completely break down knowing that once my abilities to regenerate my demonic aspects was starting to slip, that was more or less the start of the end. That it meant my lifespan would be narrowed down to 3 months, at the most. I didn't believe it. If I wanted to keep functioning, I couldn't.
Spinning my head around, I could see how much that asshole loved what he was doing. The new, 'kingly' clothing he adorned, donning on these over-the-top gloves, decorated in gold threads of life. The trimming continued to his outfit, now sporting a short cloak, and a decorative items that all screamed "DEMON KING" without a garish, dorky looking crown to top it off. He knew he was good at this. He loved chasing my disgraced self to the ends of the earth. You could just sense the sick satisfaction there was in watching me writhe in pain, gasping for air, struggling to live in this environment. Even without a facial reference to go by, just his pose, his air of walking around spoke loud enough for him. The assistant's grading voice helped the rest along.
"Close in the left flank! We've got her!" He screeched out as my vision began to clog with demons, rushing up on the side of me. I darted a little more to the right like any dumb, mindless animal would. " Close the right!" You could hear the smile in his tone as my eyes set on the only object in front of me, a single stalk of the metal flower, a twirling wind turbine. Knowing if I got to the top of it I'd be trapped, knowing that it was a desperate last move, I took it anyways, darting to it's stem. Animalistic responses taking over, I dove my hands partially into the turbine's metal skin, scrambling up the side as the clash of demons hit heavy against it. Eyes skyward, i watched the metal flower wiggle and swoon in real life, straightening back out as I climbed high enough to evade most attacks, actions streamlined while my mind panicked.
What was I doing? Why did I still try? My name...infamous now. Only known for all that was bad. Any 'good' thing I had done was seen as a route to the bad. They painted me as a traitor. Couldn't talk to my sisters. Couldn't drag them down with me.
Someone threw a brick at me, sound ringing hard against the swaying metal turbine as I got a chance to look down. Their faces weren't angry, they were excited. They weren't victims of circumstance, they took part in this hunt because they could. Because they fed that internal instinct to hunt and kill. They probably didn't give two and a half shakes what I had done, they just knew that I needed to be exterminated. Perseus is the one that planted that idea into them, had been the sole driving force. In my quick glance I couldn't spot him in the ravenous crowd, a few people even carrying real torches and pitchforks. Can't imagine that looked normal to anyone driving on the highway alongside this wind farm.
Finally reaching the top, exhausted claws digging into the metal one last time, I lurched over, wheezing for breath on the hazy grey wind turbine. The demon's hissing and scowling from the crowds below were interrupted in a the sky laughing at me, those even chopping turbine blades whooping at my situation. I scowled, dragging my exhausted eyes up to see Perseus already standing there, blade over my head. Just by the way his shoulder pads rose and fell quickly, he was exhausted too. That didn't really make me feel any better.
"AWHGhhhh god... dammit!" I bitched out loud, pounding one fist to metal and laying face down, "You've got to be fucking kidding me. You stupid...selfish son of a pig, for shit's sake! Get a god-damn hobby!" I bellowed at the turbine, looking up quickly to rise on my feet, shaky.
"You happy? Are you pleased with yourself? You should be! Congratulations to you, OH great mystical super overlord excelsior demon master himself!" I vented, more or less in control, but just barely as he watched me rant, sword still partially out. " You stupid, mindless prick. Congratulations erasing everything I'd done! Congratulations on turning my name, one that HELPED establish one of the first cultures of this world, the thing i lived for, the thing I spent thousands of years refining into my legacy, into utter shit. That takes real courage! Real, hardcore courage and dedication to utterly ruin everything I'd built. All because you're a goddamn energy VAMPIRE WITH A FUCKING GRUDGE" I screamed at him, one eye twitching, starting to really lose my composure, starting to blurt out everything related to him, and then some.
"So what is it, huh? What is your goddamn motivation? The fuck did I EVER do to you? Just who is the man behind that mask, too hideous for his own voice?" I reached forwards to snatch his mask as he only backed away enough, bringing the sword back up. Lingering there for a second I tried again, actions reading more and more desperate as I did a full loop around the top of the turbine, trying to get that mask as he finally swiped the blade angrily to the side that he'd had enough. " Too much prying for you? Too much responsibility to put a face to your actions? You may have taken the leader position from me, but you're weak. A concept, at best. You're just that stupid goddamn mask. That name, that influence, is tied to that damn mask, because you can't put on the big-boy pants to take real responsibility. A mask! That is ALL you are! "
"You couldn't have left it that I'd made some mistakes. You didn't bother to have people think that even if what I had done was wrong to some people, that there might've been a bigger reward then a few demons death. They NEED that ability to die. " I lectured him, barely aware of the tears I was holding back, how much of this speech was meant for my own ears as much as his. " Your constant wars, your continuous battles. Even if you're going into it with everything, demons are still dying. My wars were sporadic, occasional. Yours are constant. And I'd bet you anything that your death tolls are higher then mine, you delusional HACK! " I laughed, eye twitching, scraping on nothing as it quickly died down, as the sounds of the demons scraping on the side of the turbine became more and more aware. I was bellowing for my own ego, what was left of it. I'd die here today. I knew that. He knew that.
"Speak. So that my unworthy eardrums might at least understand something other then that stupid mask. So that I've got something tangible to hate, instead of some stupid, scowling ripoff of my own! Speak! C'mon!" He remained as he was, unimpressed as I swung into desperation just that quickly.
"Speak! Be a man and actually put something to your real name!" I gasped, shouting with less determination all of a sudden. That was the moment my mind chose to weigh my death, the end of my existence, normally pushed away and ignored. I began to babble, barely keeping tabs on what I spit out. " I used to have this kind of following you know. Used to influence this many people. I worked so goddamn hard to gain them- that someone that can steal that so easily from me... it's not fair. It's not...fucking...fair. You shouldn't have this influence, when you don't say a god-damn word to them! It's not fair!"
"Speak!" I stumbled forward, broken; feet gripping tenderly for the sides of the wind turbine as the blades swung every second or so. Perseus kept that blade behind his back, the surmount roar of the crowd much softer now here at the top. They surrounded the tower, a few climbing up the sides, a mass smarter using the ladder on the inside. " Speak! I know you're able to
why won't you just say something?" My heart ached, sagging and crippled in it's cage as I was at the end of my rope, the end of my will and my desperation, fingertips gripping the proverbial edge of it all. What was left? What did I have? What was I doing? He took another step forward with the weapon at his side, watching my moves carefully as I could just barely see the whites of his eyes shifting from behind the mask. I gagged out a breath, sobbing, trying to chew on that grizzled piece of dignity I had left, trying to keep it intact. That didn't last long.
"What the hell do you want from me, you fucking usurper?!" I screamed, my frantic mind finally spilled over, nothing could be held in, nothing was saved now, "You've taken everything from me, you chase my dishonored soul to the ends of this earth and you're still looking for something! What is it? What do you want from me!? What possible fragment of this fucked up, nearly expired soul has ANY worth to you? To anyone?" My sobbing broke down, sliding to my knees. Blades of metal chopped at my heels, swinging around as my hands gripped the surface I was sure to slip away from.
nothing. I am
nothing." I wiped my eyes half-heartily as the sounds of the others began to grow in volume, as they were nearing our location. My veins froze with liquid glass, trying to hold my shoulders, barely the will to do that, "Please
please, Just let this cobbled soul die in peace. Just let me spend my last months alone. Let me have that, if you have any sort of sympathy, if you have any HINT of a soul left yourself." I let my head fall to my hands, bowing to this unbearable weight in my life standing before me, that pried my life apart so simply by the tiniest action. The world was heavy to me, a burden. I wheezed out pathetically as the end of my existence was scrambling closer to our position, as the wind turbines continued to laugh and hoot at my expense. I never thought it'd end like this. Never thought that I'd be run out of my own gig. I figured myself loved, cherished. Even Palug had said, at the beginning of our travels way back when, that Excelsis Demon Nona never had a negative thing attached to her name. That she wandered heaven and hell, and stayed amongst the demons because she could. She felt like a completely different person, felt like a story.
Maybe I'd lost my step. Spent too much time with the angels that I lost touch with the demons. I wondered just how much of this was Perseus's fault, and how much of it was my own. I sobbed quietly, fearful.
"I... have no sympathy, just as you had no sympathy," My blubbering stopped immediately as I looked up, the overly-graveled voice definitely coming from behind the mask. It
"That's why we're destined to fight as we do." He let the weapon sink down behind him, head turned towards the first minion of his to make it to the top of the wind turbine. Go figure the first thing he says as cryptic as everything else. I wiped my eyes a little more, at least managing to pull my feet under me.
you're not much older then me, are you?" I could tell by his voice as immediately Perseus straightened up taller, almost shifting in a controlled version of surprise. In words imagined leagues away from my current train of thought, I picked up on something similar in his voice, like something I'd heard before. Then again, I heard and spoke to more than a handful of people. Able to stifle crying for a short time, I collected my crumbled facade close to me, watching more people make it to the top. The wind turbine was crowded now.
"Captured the demon queen, Perseus?" He nodded, looking back to me for more then a second, then to the minion as they immediately rejoiced, "Another victory for our beloved king! Let us sacrifice this demon wench so that our society may be cleansed!" Two minions came straight for me as I didn't bother fighting, just keeping my stare close on Perseus, mulling over his few and far-between words. No sympathy. At one point, I was the meaning of sympathy, I was the person who went around solving all the troubles. I spared his life time and time again. What did he mean? Is he saying that at one point he had sympathy? That he still did?
There was a disturbance around the top of the turbine, a wind, almost, like static electricity from no where. No one paid more then a second of attention to it as they grabbed my wrists, pulling me lightly to my feet. The wind/ electricity suddenly picked up, more violent than before. What was this? It wasn't natural, wasn't usual.
It was almost like
Stumbling once my guard righted himself, using my arm as balance as I swayed to the side with him. Back on our feet we took another group step forward as a spiritual gust came, shoving the same man as his arm swung around for balance, just like it would've in real life. I watched as that arm connected up the side of Perseus's mask, knocking it off kilter as the he took a step back, forgetting he was at the edge of the wind turbine. Silently, looking around in panic, the rest of his team too slow to react in time, he fell without a word more then that. Fell off the side of the 200 ft tall turbine. Fell at a place that would certainly injure him serious enough, resistant or not, and show an awkward and clumsy face fault to their perfect leader. And before I could even bother to think how helpful this would be to my cause, I had shoved the guard away and dove after the bastard in a snap decision.
Reacting quick like I hadn't in years and years, I grabbed him right around the ankle, my other hand ripping into the metal of the wind turbine both here and in reality. I groaned as the action tore at my back, locking up so I wouldn't drop either, swinging towards the underside of the machine before coming to a rest, his team all freaking out just above me.
Gritting my teeth, I managed to look down with the whirling blades interrupting my speech.
ha.." I choked out, almost swimming mid-air with my feet to get the words out. I took a deep breath before shouting the rest, " I
BLEED sympathy!" Coughing, I looked down. There was a second to realize I was seeing his actual face for the first time, that I was seeing a quarter of the face always covered by the mask.
"I have more sympathy then you'll ever
" I quit mid- laugh, re-adjusting my hand on his ankle that broke the fastener on his shoe; skin touched skin for the first time.
Followed by a spark.
Instantly my brain went on alarm. That only ever happens with one person, now practically shaking his leg to try and see beneath that mask as he pulled it back into place, both hands over his face.
" I could barely speak, essentially thrashing him around as I began to be hoisted up , "Wait
WAIT WAIT STOP" I kicked randomly at his head, trying to pry that mask away, trying to see under it as that overly confident, arrogant front was replaced by him and I having a chicken fight hundreds of feet above ground. The wind was howling now, someone pulling me halfway onto the platform, followed by someone prying his foot from my hand. I kicked out an eye of his mask, busting the glass that obscured him from the world. In that one second before I dropped from the platform, in that second when the two of us were practically face to face, I saw a blue eye and a thick dark eyebrow, surrounded by a facade.
"No! I reached for anything, my fingers raking through the air. "No! Waaaiiiiit!"
Falling, twisting from the platform the wind was surging with sparks and lightning in a clear blue day. I tried for the colus on a desperate move, called for that bed of strings to carry me away into a form I missed and loved, that I had deserted and let be for years, unwanted. And like an unloved pet, it continued to ignore me as the earth filled the void instead, far away reverberating with the impact that eye had on me.
"Raziel!" I screamed out for him as 'Perseus' looked down on me, now at the top of the platform, hand covering the hole in his mask. The sparks ruptured with energy to surround me , connecting, shocking me in a feeling I'd know anywhere. Vision grew distorted, hard to understand as the sparks increased. Separated. No!
"RAZIEL!" I screamed again, shocked one last time as I was beamed out of that situation, back to the world more pine scented then this one.