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Caelum Sky Chapter 39

"Saint Michael? Like…THE saint Michael?"  He peered around the Colus once more with a daft sort of grin to his face. He was honest to god excited about this. Giddy.

"No, like Saint Steve. Yes, Saint Michael." I groaned, pulling the Colus from the ground as you could physically see Raziel remember he wasn't on our side, that he was our enemy, that this was our opposition. His face fell, looked over to Paul before looking back to me.

"Oh… oh, god, we're screwed"

"Thanks for the reassurance, Raziel." I took a few steps towards the archangel, switching the Colus to my other hand anxiously as the wind blew past.  The wings of light receded back towards him, folding up to still peep over his head by at least five feet as he took a few slow steps towards me, mimicking my actions.  With our eyes locked on each other he suddenly smiled, bringing the sword up higher to flash it in my direction.  I crouched lower, Colus in front of me defensively, readying myself. Like Gauzier, Michael didn't like to dawdle. Today was no exception. The wind stopped.

Light surged out in both directions like a bolt of lightning, Michael covered the distance between us in less than a second, right there.  His eyes were an icy shade of blue, almost like liquid silver sliding just above the edge of the Colus as I darted back with his attack.  His sword grazed the side of my face as I threw myself away from him to the right, swinging the handle around to parry his one blade. Using the momentum he swiped over my head with the other, sword clunking off my horns as it put yet another notch into them.  Crouched, I growled out, kicking the Colus hard to knock him in the head as that blonde mop of his cracked back. The next moment he was laughing.  

I kicked backwards, trying to navigate through this half-developed neighborhood. We were fighting in a somewhat deserted parking lot next to two adjoining large fields that were connected though a thin line of shrubbery.  The boys were standing under what looked like a rusted out basketball hoop, pavement around them dried and cracked from wear and tear many years ago, the land left to fold back with mother earth, I suppose.  Unkempt trees lined the road that ran alongside us, giving the perfect little battle area to settle our differences.

Michael was dangerously fast, never letting up, swords practically at my neck as I kept skipping backwards, trying to figure my plan of attack. Kicking a little less, he was suddenly face to face. I thrashed my head once to the side to fend off the one sword with a horn, throwing a wrist up to catch his hand and knock the other sword away.  Matching his speed I cracked him in the jaw with my knee, jumping a half step back and into that perfect position, that fighting stance. With just a cocky smile over to Raziel, I punched the archangel directly in the face without a single flaw to it.  My grin stopped suddenly as his sword cut off my one arm in a clean swipe, other coming for my face. Ducking, I darted off to the side, recalling the Colus to my other, non injured hand to parry his relentless attacks. It was all brutally fast; but even deep down, I was silently quite happy with myself, mastering what probably was the very basis of attack in a simple punch.

Back and forth I parried his sword blows, large paddle weapon cutting into the air with destructive little cracks. With my one hand now fully reformed I shook it out, griping the ancient weapon as the Archangel went to stab me over the hilt, sword sliding right between my eyes.  Thank god that's not where I kept the important things.  Growling, I shoved the spiked Colus into his body while the end of the St. Michael sword popped out the back of my head, blood dripping down my back.  We stalemated; the spikes on the front of the Colus rammed into the Archangel, his favorite sword lodged in my head.  Eyes darting to one another we both withdrew at the same time, leaping backwards to gingerly hold a hand to our wounds.  The Saint raised an eye through those blonde locks of his stubbornly.

"I won that."

"Bullshit" I tore into the ground towards him without delay, swinging the Colus to try and cleave him in two, archangel darting backwards with just barely a scratch across his stomach. He frowned again attacking with more energy, the slightest tinge of anger to his face while I did my best to evade the barrage of gleaming metal trying to dice me into bits.  Tightening my grip on the distaff I pulled it closer, throwing as much excess energy I could to charge the weapon up, keeping my eyes focused on where he'd stab next. Raziel suddenly spoke up alongside me with words inaudible and distracting. A searing pain alongside my head, I watched half my cheek and my left ear slide off to the ground and disappear in a fit of smoke. Raziel quieted down.

Attention full back to Michael I swept the weapon around to push him back away from me, cocking the Colus to rest just over my shoulder.  The archangel looked almost confused.

"Giving up?"  The glow of the Colus suddenly burst into full glory, steeping the area around me in a reddish haze.

"Something like that" I laughed as the strings and energy attack blew out at Michael from the four holes in the top of the Colus near the handle. It completely ripped through my right forearm, other hand behind my back to catch it rolling off my shoulder as it flickered back to neutral.  I threw the weapon at the archangel without a moment to spare, knocking the guy back a few feet with more injuries. With everything I had I jumped high into the sky, away just as both of his swords cut the Colus into fourths, breezing through the weapon like it wasn't there. His glare shifted from the ground behind the weapon to me, out in the open, hopping around like some unlucky bullfrog.  White streaks of lightning jutted out from all sides of his back, makeshift wings of pure energy shot him straight at me, swords gleaming against the sun as I could only windmill there like a sitting duck.

  Michael tackled the wind right out of me, the two of us twisting and shooting far from the boys in an impressive arc across the empty lot behind the demon stronghold.  Twisting, trying to break free, that bastard only kept laughing, rather pleased with himself. I got an arm free, cracking him in the head over and over with my elbow until he finally let me go; we both crashed not a second later, tumbling about in the semi-paved parking lot as I struggled to get my footing.  Michael pulled himself up, brushing off and taking a quick glace back at Raziel and Paul.

"Spectators?" He cocked a thumb at them; narrowing my eyes I tried to figure out a way to beat him, once and for all. There had to be something I've missed in the past.

"Survivors" It clicked as the archangel was suddenly charging at me again, swords held out in front of him. I dropped flat to the ground, nails digging into the concrete as he just overshot me.  

"That's new for you Nona, you're going soft!"  He laughed again behind me as I was already back to my feet, hauling myself directly opposite from him, running full out. The long, blackish wicked nails scratched into the blacktop with each step.  

"Running? Already?"

"Scheming!" I yelled behind me as he was already just a breath away, lightning wings arching around us in a grand halo of battle. The very end of one of his swords sliced into my back, shuddering my run just for a moment while I saw him hold the other high over his head, ready to strike me down.  I swung both feet out in front of me, stopping instantly, both hands up by my shoulders. With a devious little twist, I clocked him upside the head with my forearm, hand grabbing onto his hair.  Watching those smug little eyes pop open in surprise I threw him with everything I had. The swords sliced my arms up on the way out, angelic missile going about fifty feet.  Given that half second of victory, I cracked out a quick laugh and continued to run away, darting back diagonal from where I had been, nails still sinking into the asphalt.

St. Michael recovered, landing squarely on his feet only to re-adjust the small golden glasses over his nose as I turned on a dime again, picking a new direction.  Face falling from that gallant super-smugness to a look that regular people have, he opened those wings up wide, arching far behind him, over the parking lot, over most of the area, taking up quite a bit of the sky. I stopped where I was, defenseless, unable to call up the Colus for the time being, left in the open as the Saint smirked, keeping both swords by his chest. Even from where I stood I could hear him start his own namesake, the great demon exorcist chant, supposed to incinerate anything with even a wisp of darkness and evil in its heart.  I couldn't move, couldn't leave this exact spot as the fire suddenly rushed forth, overtaking the sunny blue sky and turning it red. Determined, I lowered my head with both arms crossing in front of my face, taking one half step backward to brace myself. It was a test. There was always this test he liked to run, always put me through this damn exorcism. Didn't make it any less painful.  

The first wave whipped past, burning up all that around me, starting to singe the bottoms of my hair, my eyebrows, encasing me in fire.  I tried to slow my breathing down, tried to concentrate. One of the greatest secrets I had found out was the very middle grey of the life around me. Cempe had repeated it to me when I was a little shorter and incomplete, the words just rolling off. That hazy middle grey, that evil and good were just words and concepts. They were. Labels to give order to chaos. Take those labels away, and it's all just chaos, much like how the world acts without a good and evil to rely on, to blame.  The roles we had to play to keep up that structured chaos, to be that evil side, to be that good influence; it was the greatest part of what I did.  But when you do see the world as those concepts, that spirits, on a rational level, wouldn't be able to hurt or kill one another, wouldn't be able to do anything but just waft around, waiting for life to accept them in once more, that each attack made on each other was just as believable as you wanted it to be; makes you a sort of indestructible. Being just a spirit, just almost a concept myself, an exorcism was pointless. Fighting was pointless. A wound was pointless.  It all wasn't possible.

But. Not to say it wasn't fun. That it wasn't entertainment, when you pared down life to those bare essentials; it became a battle of beliefs instead. If I believe stronger that I can survive this exorcism, that it doesn't hurt, while Michael there is believing the best he can that it is going to wipe me away, to hurt, who wins? Half the time, I think that's why I even still fought, to question and push the ideas a little more, to identify just what I was. It was dangerous territory, you wonder if one disappears when they understand they're not real. So far, I hadn't discovered that.  But belief, well, just made everything work. As I believed I wouldn't be hurt by this, as I reviewed my morals and mantras, I found myself almost encased in them, unhurt, standing amongst the flames and roaring sparks of exorcism happening around me. I believed this was all fictitious. Believed that he could not hurt me. My hair singed no farther then maybe a quarter of an inch up; standing there, deep in concentration. Michael should've known better. As I felt the fire begin to recede, as the light flickered just a moment, interrupted, as the glinting metal from Michael's swords both pressed in just below my heart to effectively slice me in half, he knew this too.

"Amateur" he grinned as the St. Michaels prayer suddenly dispersed away, broke out of its bubble to rip across the sky and scar the heavens themselves.  Face lost in shallow pain, I suddenly tensed up, smiling myself.

"Not quite" I laughed, raising my upper-torso's hands high into the air. The razor sharp lines of life I had planted with the large toe-claw and my strange erratic running tore up from the ground, a scribbled web ripped into the lightning wings, shearing into his calf and left hand.  Michael immediately tried to jump away as that last line came surging down, from my original arc across the sky, quickly taking off both wings in an instant. Hands pulling back, they all convened together in cutting the air itself, taking out a few more chunks as he tried to dodge them all. One sword clattered to the ground along with the archangel's hand.  

Hands already up I called the Colus to it, reforming my damaged body as a pair of skeleton legs in a heartbeat. It'd work. Michael was starting to come back down, face scrunched up in frustration, losing all definition as I rose to meet him, craning that Paddle weapon back, scouring his head like an oversized baseball. Looking him over there was no fear, he didn't look anything but mildly surprised. I'd take that victory anyways, tightening my grip, fingers sliding next to one another, narrowing my glare as his eyes slid my way. A smile.

Crack! I swung the bat, connecting right upside the Saint's head as I sent him sailing, throwing everything I had into it; spinning out of sync, legs flipping up. He shot back across the sky to where Paul and Raziel sat, not moving, not struggling.  Still spinning I fought to get my dazzling white bones for feet under me; skin, muscle, and clothing reformed by the time I hit the ground, hand shielding my eyes to watch him land like a well-placed drive. Just on the brink of feeling satisfied with my efforts, in feeling good about myself he stopped mid-flight;  dazzling, crooked streaks of light as those wings shot out once more, pulling the nine foot tall guardian back onto his feet dangerously close to the two fallen angels.

"You still lack basic reasoning, basic skills, Nona!" He shouted back as I immediately froze. I could see his hand rise up, sword pointed for them both. He wouldn't. Then again, this was St. Michael. As the light of his wings reflected off the swords, as the two men shot desperate looks my way, it was obviously clear that he wasn't screwing around. Dammit!

My first breath pumped through human lungs, second a huff of air already in the Colus as that black smoke encased me, flapping my still-forming wings to shoot myself directly for the bastard. Concentrating, pushing hard, time seemed to slow down, seemed to distance the seconds as my wings pushed faster and faster. Pinpointed down to the very dust that surrounded the Archangel I made that last jump, richocheting across that field in a heartbeat. Figuring myself clever I flashed to the right, then the left, his face moving ever so slowly in that quarter of a second as I dashed into appearance just behind him. Mouth open, ready to tackle him full on in this monstrous body, I spun quickly on my lizardish heels.  I leaned to strike him, so close to that winning goodness; he was suddenly facing me, sword pointed directly at my core. And without much more prestige then that he sliced into my own hip bones, swords catching and jagging up to split me open like a trout.

Reset; cut into the very essence of my existence, of myself, I tumbled out of the Colus as that black smoke spun around angrily. I was back to being roughly Neri-sized once more, no goggles and three little nubs for horns as I fell onto the grass, arms already wrapped tightly around my midsection, trying to hold my own organs in. I would not be healing, would not be able to fight back, would not be even able to touch any of that demonic energy for at least seven minutes.  In that time I'd be able to feel every pain, feel each ripped muscle; Michael hadn't cut any vital organs, hadn't injured me enough to kill in those seven minutes, but he got damn close. Every soul outside that system at least had one, a failsafe way that two of us could fight and still get a winner. Fighting a fight where everyone's terribly aware how fictitious everything is and it goes nowhere; it's even more pointless. But having a core made things equal. By all technicalities, I had just lost this fight

"Nona!" Paul called out, taking a few steps closer.

"Tactless as ever, too" St. Michael wiped the blood from the sword, other hand grabbing at nothing as he realized the other was still a distance away, knocked out when my strings had taken off his hand. "Neat trick, but you're still an amateur. I was expected more of a fight from you Nona, I'm sorely disappointed" I gagged a little more in pain, opening my eyes to see both the guys not far away, looking seriously concerned for me and petrified of Michael in one kaleidoscope of terror.

"It's… just a minor…setback." I coughed out, shoving spilled organs back into my own body as I sat up.  My vision was hazy at best, blurred as my eyes rolled in my head.  "

"Ah. Well, if it's just a setback..." Michael said blandly, purposely dragging the sword on the ground in front of me as he passed with no fight whatsoever. Huffing a little more for breath I tucked my knees higher, blood spilling out from the sides of my lap to form my own little moat.   The archangel laughed. "In the meantime, I suppose we can take a look at our spectators here. Having fun kids?" He bent over Raziel and Paul, propping the glasses a little higher on his nose to get a good look at them.

"Leave 'em alone!" I shouted out, pulling off my own foot-wraps as even more blood began to ooze out. "They're not a part of this!"

"You made them a part of this by keeping them around!" Michael suddenly got angry, turning around to point that sword directly at my head. The surface was scoured with fancy and etched pictures along the blade; I stopped trying to wrap up my wounds, set on just deadpan glaring with all the energy I had left. Michael huffed a few more times, lowering the sword. "I'm sorry, just a little touchy from having no real fight happening here. Takes a lot of energy to come down here, and the least I expect is a little…resistance, God, something."  Slowly, I resumed wrapping up my torso like a bloody Christmas present as he grew bored at yelling at the top of my head.   

His eyes moved onto Raziel, "You!  I used to be your boss, didn't I?" I looked up to find Raziel almost at full panic, looking in terror at me, then back to Michael, then back to Paul and me once more. The undertones of being star-struck and fangirlism all but died away as Michael held that sword out just at Raziel, using it like a baton.  The archangel snorted, suddenly barking out commands. "Answer me!"

"Yes sir!" Raziel saluted out of confusion as the Archangel turned back to me, laughing sarcastically.

"That's grand! So we've got a fractured, blind Dusillo and a Continnum who wouldn't know heaven from hot sauce. Quite the team you've got there, Nona, glad they can play witness. That's…just fantastic." I slowly got to my feet, whimpering out once before trying to keep that tough façade on as Michael turned back to the grey-haired fallen angel, "So you're the one in the dark, eh? How's toiling going for you?"

My face scrunched up at his teasing, throwing a rock to pass through the angel's back.

"That's enough!" I hobbled closer to the group of men, thoroughly annoyed. One particular trait Michael had was the ability to annoy the hell out of anyone with any bit of knowledge that he knew more of then you. He was a show-off, an antagonizer of the highest degree.  It was his job.  "You want a fight, I'll give you a fight" I coughed again against my arm as the burgundy trail behind me defied my own will.

"But you leave them out of this.  No wandering attacks, nothing.  I can fight you better when my mind's not pre-occupied worrying about their safety, or what you might do in a dirty, underhanded move like before." I growled out, lowering my eyes; I could see the grass through my own ankle-wounds as Michael grumbled inaudibly.

"What do you mean by the dark?" Raziel piped up with a voice as frustrated and foreboding as my mood. Not now, Raziel, don't bring this up now. I turned slightly to him, trying to relay that information, trying to emote the will for him to shut up.  Michael always used demonstrations for his explanations, and I just wasn't in the mood to bring more people back from the dead. The angel's eyes flared up as he could sense I was trying to cover this up too, growing angrier, "No, No, you're on probation for the crap you haven't told me. What dark?"  Michael towered just a little more, eager to give out this knowledge as I kept my mouth shut. Looking back to Paul, he only shrugged. Someone would tell him eventually.

"The boy's giving me an opening, Nona. I can't ignore this, you know I can't."  Sighing, I tightened the wrap around my stomach just a little bit.

"Yeah, yeah, I know you can't. Go for it." I kept my eyes averted, disappointed. I'd wanted to tell Raziel these great immortality secrets, wanted to tell him everything, give a little information with everything on how the demons and angels kept life in balance, how the afterlife worked. It's not like I didn't willingly try to share this information with others as well. As dear as that Joan – Christopher life had been to me, as much as it meant, I had lived many many other times. I had many many other loved ones, people dear to me, I've tried to convince them too. Between having so many of those lives already fragmented, back into that life pool and unrecognizable to me now,  and those completely ripped apart to find that everything was a hoax, I was scared to try anymore.  And with everything I'd screwed up this far, with this re-joining of lives seeming like one big lie to him, I knew he wouldn't take it well. Knew that he'd leave; I had so many wonderful memories from this round that'd be tarnished, that I'd look back upon and cringe at how bad I had toyed with this poor guy's life.  Sighing some more I sat down, running my hands through my hair, already feeling like this reconciliation was all for nothing. I was already counting him out.

"I've got a usual speech for this kind of thing, but since we're a little short on time, I'll skip to the good parts." Michael sunk the sword into the ground as Raziel kept looking between the two of us, face furrowed in confusion that our battle would go on hold, just that easily.  "Long time ago, with Christianity being fairly new, we had our first Nona encounter getting this guy here." The goldylocked angel pointed to Paul, already walking over to me. He raised his hand up once in attendance, continuing to sit down alongside me, patting my back.

"This'll work out."  He smiled as I trudged up everything to keep that pessimism going.  It was no match.

"Let's hope so."

"Worse come to worse and we can just kidnap him for a few hundred years to make him understand." I chuckled as Michael went on.

"So we start fighting them, they fight us for a hundred years or so before we realize it's stupid. Half the time we're not meeting at the right areas, the other half one side get's the shit kicked out of them because it's unfair. Moral goes way down for both sides." Michael rolled his hands as Raziel continued to squint at him, confused. "We both know that these souls go to be re-used, and that's helpful, you know? Well...YOU don't know, but it's what these little deaths are for." I slowly grumbled to something loud and angry, frustrated that this explanation sucked.

"We work together!" I shouted, breaking their miscommunication suddenly, "Mike and I both work to plan these outbreaks, these rebellions and wars. We plan how many people approximately should die. We plan them. All of this, it's orchestrated. Planned."  Raziel slowly swiveled on his heels, turning his head just the tiniest bit as he took a half step forward.

"You…. What?" I kept my head lower as he struggled to understand, "Why?"

"Because life follows beliefs, beliefs follow death, and death follows life. People need something to believe in. They need something to fight for to give purpose to themselves. They need a cause, no matter how ridiculous the premise. That's mostly why I still exist as a little half-deity today." I quieted down, feeling the strength slowly return to me. Colus strings began to perk up from the ground and waft about.

"Why were you fighting then?" he said, taken back, shocked.

"We're deciding who is going to win the rebellion in two days." I grumbled, "We're actually pretty good friends."

"Aw, Nona, that means so much to hear you say that!" He feigned a heart-flutter, grinning as I practically bit my lip.

"That doesn't mean you get permission to act like a little bastard, threatening mid-fight.  I know dirty pool when I see it, which at least factors into a few hundred more demons to make the fight interesting." I pointed at him and sat up a little straighter, feeling just the speck of dust better about having nothing to hide, "We both had a lot in common.  Took about two hundred years for us to realize that and figure out a better way to do this. It's not honest but it does work. You know more than anyone else how a soul gets on its own, how the mind falls apart. With nothing to do, no one to fight, the afterlife…"

"Turns back to the chaos that it once was." Michael said glumly, resting against the sword. Raziel's eyes looked hollow, empty. His arms just hung there, dejected and confused, unable to even pull himself to anything but a slumped over mess as his eyes tracked back and forth. It looked like the guy was about to break down.

"So…everything I've been fighting for…it's just fake?"

"It served its purpose. You felt accomplished doing it, right? That's all that matt-"

"That's NOT all that matters!" Raziel suddenly yelled at the Saint, taking a few angry steps forward.  "The shit I was put through to get where I am, the blood, sweat and tears I put into my endeavors, everything I've done… is fake! Why would I be okay with that?!" Michael took a few steps back, showing more fear then I had ever gotten out of him in battle.  He turned to us.

"How am I supposed to live, knowing that now? What am I supposed to…"His glare locked up, turning away from me instantly, storming angrily towards the street.  I lowered my face again, taking deep, saddened breaths. I hated being right.  Hated it.

But I was not going to let this fall to pieces. Not like this.

"Raziel!" I jumped to my feet, giving a quick nod to Michael and Paul as they nodded back. Hobbling in horrible, gut-jiggling steps I hopped after him, trying to catch up until I was practically at his back, breathing hard.  "Please, Raziel."

"You stay away from me!" He twisted around with a demented, delirious look in his eyes, "Just get the fuck away from me, haven't you done enough damage?!"

"I've apologized for that, just listen to me, please." I said softly, non confrontational. Even if we never spoke again, I needed him to understand the afterlife wasn't all fake. The system it revolved around, absolutely, but it was like advanced babysitting at best. This world did still matter.  He didn't protest, so I kept talking, "People still matter in this realm, but the afterlife is only a step to better things." Raziel stopped, turning back to me with an accusing finger.

"You know how many of my friends you've sacrificed for 'better things'? How many of them believe in this cause with everything they have? They dedicate their god-damn lives to it, and they die in vain.  Don't you DARE try and convince me that somehow people actually matter to you. The only ones who do matter are the assholes like you who get to control it!"  He turned around, only to turn back and face me, "You people toy with everyone else's life, no wonder this all sounds so great and reasonable coming out of your mouth."  I took a few deep breaths, keeping my head low. Something scratched frantically deep underground.

"People do matter in this life. Everyone does."  It was as far as I got.  I could see Raziel's feet turning back to me; see that exact stance to fight as he hopped on the balls of his feet.  Through one more slow, deep breath I held it, immediate pain as Raziel punched me, right in the face.  I could've believed that it wouldn't hurt, could've stuck to my morals that actual physical violence was pointless. I let up this time. I let it happen. My head moved back only slightly.

You could feel that tension leave the area suddenly, feel that shock, even from him to do such a thing. As his hand pulled back I kept my eyes closed, tears running down my face, mixing with the blood that gushed from my nose.  Like his words, his doubt and confusion wasn't the theme song constantly running through my head; that I hadn't considered what a bull-headed position it was to have. I could understand why he'd feel this way. Taking another slow, deep breath, I snorted as much blood out my nose as I could.  Raziel took a few steps back.

"Neri…i…" he stuttered as someone came rumbling up behind me, unable to stay on the sidelines any longer. Paul.

"That's enough. I'm not going to let you stand here and take this abuse from someone too stupid to pull his own head out of his ass."  Paul was practically fuming. "Like an immature soul like yours knows better."

"Excuse me?" Raziel barked out, back on the defensive. "I've been a part of your little 'system' for almost four hundred years now. I think I have a right to be outraged at living a lie for so long!"

Paul growled, "But you died when you were 10, and no matter what 'growing up' you do here in the afterlife, you're still that goddamn stupid ten year old!" Raziel looked like he too had been punched in the face as I brought my hand up, wiping my nose, vision tinted red.  "Like we don't understand what we do, you don't think your little outbursts have ever come up before? The world needs new souls, and demonized souls need the ability to have a better life.  Angels have the perks of living as long as they'd like, that if they do die on the battlefield, they go right back to heaven and re-start. Demons don't have that, so if anything, life is FAR more precious to us then you even know."

"How precious, exactly? Ordering your friends to all die for a fictitious cause, just how precious is that life, hm?"

"We lament the death of our friends; we understand this need to find a better life then what they've got.  We mourn those lost, but we know it needs to be done."

"That just makes it worse!" Raziel screeched out, "Speaking of, aren't you going to take back whatever bit of you that's me, or whatever the hell is going on here?" Paul's head snapped to him.

"I want nothing to do with you and your bit of my soul." There was practically venom on his tongue as it lightened up, just a bit, "We've grown to be different people anyways, it wouldn't work." Again, there was more scratching, more frantic tearing beneath the soil as I could feel the barrier St. Michaels had put up shudder. Raziel looked between both of us, shaking his head with disgust as he turned around immediately.

"Fuck this." He resumed storming off, pace much less frantic into more of an ambled confusion.  The answer suddenly popped into my head, a way to make him understand, looking up to him as I could feel the stomach wound begin to heal. My seven minutes were up.

"Amber!" I called out after him as he stopped, giving a 'why do I give a damn' look over his shoulder. "You saved her from being a smear on the ground. You did, not me, not Paul, not Michael.   If that isn't the meaning of people mattering, I don't know what is."  He turned back around to us, kinda of opening up his hands to flop by his sides.

"It's just one person."  

"Avoiding the obvious response about the value of people's lives, alright, what about any of the people's houses we've exorcised demons from? You don't think that their lives were changed or affected by having their prayers answered?  I'm sure any relationship either you or me has had concerning anyone else, that's all scripted too, right?" I turned back to Paul with a slowly confident smile,  "All those reactions, how people see you or me, the friends we do make, it must all be just devious little mind control that me and Mike are spinning on the masses to do our bidding. " I took a few commanding steps forward, gaining my footing.

"In life, all we want to know about is what happens after it. We take whatever reassurance there is to soften that inevitable thought that maybe there's just nothing. That the world ends when our eyes close for the last time." I snorted out more blood, feeling the demonic energy begin to return as I slowly grew those inches back to my full body size, "We want something to believe in, so we make our own afterlife.  Life directly chooses what we do here.  'I've been a bad person, so I go to hell,' or 'I believe in an afterlife in heaven'. That makes our own experiences here. It makes our heaven and hell." I gritted in a bit of pain as the horns behind my head began to grow once again.

"Through our time spent here, we're influenced by the life around us. We in turn influence people's lives to perpetuate that faith, and everything starts over again and again. The system we have set up continues that cycle, it fuels it." I shook my head out a little as I kept growing, beginning to tower over the fallen angel once more, hair falling back to my shoulders. "It is not perfect. It's not faultless and it's not honest. None of us think that what we do is the most pristine thing in this world.  But considering the alternative, it's a damn good start."

Shaking my arms out I cracked back into that full height, looking back to Michael and Paul for a moment as I fell back to a regular height suppressing that future soul, body renewed from the reset.

"I'm sorry if it's a shock to you, sorry if it seems like a daunting concept to understand. We didn't all grow up knowing this either" I spoke softly, taking a few steps forwards to him; his face looked completely blank and empty, no fear, no anger, no hatred; but also no happiness or understanding. It looked like he had checked out, that he was trying to will his soul to leave the area through passive means. I felt for the guy. "I'm sorry this couldn't all be something better. I just want to you to try and understand." His eyes suddenly clicked back into focus, looking over me to the angels behind me, looking out over the half-developed land. His voice was hollow and sad.

"I don't understand. And I don't think I ever will." He looked back to me before his eyes jumped elsewhere, "This is obviously your world, not mine."

My ears shot back in regret, in shock, holding a hand to my chest as I couldn't think of another word to say. I'd given it my best. I'd done everything in my power to try and help him out in life, to try and give him a sense of the world around me, to give him that perspective. It wasn't enough. I had to know when there was no more to say, that a decision was completely out of my hands.  This, it couldn't be helped. I lowered my head in defeat.

"I understand." I said softly as the ground began to shake apart, that barrier just beneath the ground suddenly cracking and dispersing away.  Like a  murderous bloody demon horse she rose from the ground, horns broken and chipped to thrust herself out of the earth, red eyes as wide and as crazy as I'd ever seen her. Cempe; bloodied and angry for getting trapped underground. Cempe, furiously trying to get through the barrier for the last half hour as she panted and heaved with unbridled rage, head whipping over to Raziel with a crazy little snarl.  Even out of the path of destruction I could feel my veins grow cold.

"Michael, you asshole!"  She looked past us both, back hunched with a wide stance ready to tear into anything that dare reply back.  Her demon form melted back to human as she stormed past in the same position, heading straight for the archangel.

"Why Cempe, were you waiting to come up?"Michael spit a little arrogance at her, chiding the fate with as much sass as he dared.  She pulled the Decempedia's weapon form out of thin air, cracking him upside the head with it and continued to push him on the retreat as the archangel just laughed and laughed. Watching the two of them squabble like long-lost lovers, Paul came up alongside me, arm over my shoulder.

"They'd make a fantastic, masochistic couple, and they don't even know it." I shook my head a little as he laughed. Turning back to make a similar remark to Raziel, I found him still walking out away from us, trying to leave in that dejected, unwanted way. Cempe saw this too.

"Oh no you don't, you little liability!" She rushed back into the demon form, charging straight at him like a wild beast possessed. Raziel eyes went wide as he suddenly began to bolt, running full out in terror. "I'll give you something to throw a punch at you insensitive little prick!"  Before I could say otherwise she snapped him up, diving straight into the ground, straight back to hell.  I didn't try to stop her.
Question of the Chapter: What do you think is going to happen with the last chapter?

Chapter 38 : [link]

Chapter 40: [link]

Originally, i was planning on having 42 chapters. I think it'll end at 40. It'll be a very LONG chapter 40, but yeah, i think that'll be the end of it. Good gravy.

1. you jerks owe me. and I mean that in a loving way. It's 2:57 AM, I'm due to drive a 4 hour long car ride at 9. Not your fault, but I feel bad telling you it'd be up on friday and running off for a weekend. So I worked my duff off to finish this.

2. This chapter has changed...immensely. I knew what I wanted to happen, but the order, and the fight sequences, and...everything changed around so much. It's taken me forever to write this monster, but i'm happy with it. Ch. 40's been something planned forever, so it theory, shouldn't take long to get out.

BUT. In order for me to get it out to you, I NEED your reactions, your thoughts. Even if it's "Damn you firefeathers, i'm looking for a big fight scene and you only give me 5 pages of fight and a head-stabbing, fuck you!" Then let me know.

I pride myself on having realistic reactions. And honestly, having a 10 year old try to grow up on his own in death's going to make for a terribly un-adjusted adult, emotionally stunted guy. Unless he was taken under the wing of the ghost of dr. phil or something. So if you're looking for that "OH , I UNDERSTAND, EVERYTHING IS FANTASTIC" angle, i'm afraid you won't find it here. I will resolve the book nicely, it won't be "AND THEN EVERYONE EXPLODED THE END"

Which makes me wonder. What do you think is going to happen with this last chapter?
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coopaer Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013
"Then she woke up and it was all a dream..."
There's nothing wrong with that ending. 
sunwukung22 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013
It was at this time raziel became a Buddhist 
sunwukung22 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013
My views on raziel changed as I red this story - first I hated him then I like him now I feel bad for him
ALRadeck Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
That's great to hear! Because IT WAS ALL PLANNED FROM THE BEGINNING!

actually it wasn't. But it was fun turning him into a sympathetic character :D
Da-Lizzard Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
So... does Satan actually exist in this version of Hell?
ALRadeck Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I think I wrote something quick that he's much the same way, but he's got his own place around there/ does his own thing.
Da-Lizzard Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh neat :). I was just wondering.
Zeltharian Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Alright just one thing here that confused me a bit. I thought everything was burned up when Captain Mikey landed, or was it like a meta-physical fire type deal? The setting just seemed to have jumped when you start talking about their little battle arena. Aside from that, LOVED IT! FAAAAAAAAHHHH!
ALRadeck Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
It was all meta physical, the normal landscape/ trees what have you are perfectly fine :D
Zeltharian Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Ahh, alright. That makes lots more sense.
Arisa-tan Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Oh man, wow! Yes I totally understand Raziel's reaction. After hearing such a thing I would also be "fuck you, leave me alone" haha.
All really interesting. My head generally doesn't think ahead, it likes being surprised or something.
So yeah... gonna just read on :)
Chakramchucker Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I kind of love Saint Michael, even if he is an antagonist here :| Next chapter doesn't help with that at all.

But yeah badass chapter. I enjoy the balance between character building and tension building and physical action (I still see it as a video game or movie in my head) This comment is way out of sync with my reading order but I felt I had to leave input on both so... deal with it I guess.

ALRadeck Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
St. Michael's supposed to fill that role. He's only the antagonist from her POV, in the way that he kicks her ass nearly every time. So in the same way you have that friend that's better, yet kinda arrogant, yet still a friend. If they were to get hit by a something, you'd laugh your ass off, but you'd ultimately help them up and ask if they're okay. That sorta friendship. If I do continue with these series as my brain is telling me I'll probably do, he'll play a much bigger role in the next book. (God, I can't believe i'm planning future books. This damn series will devour my soul. I can almost count on it)

Also, I sure hope that's what happens. What a fucked up second book that'd be. I can also see them all running off into the sunset, while simultaneously jumping into the air with a fist and freezing to that music. Also, Flash Gordon is there.
Chakramchucker Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I kinda figured. Like an abusive... friendship. The best kind >_>

:lmao: OR Flash = St. Michael. Dun Dun DUNN

You can thank me later for writing your second book's plot for you :P

And god help me I can't stop associating that song with this story now. I feel like I should apologize.
ALRadeck Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Damn, i'll start contacting the lawyers about royalties right now. FUUUCK.

I do believe I'll have to draw that picture. Haven't drawn any St, Michaels pictures yet. He's like an angry bookkeeper WITH OUTRAGEOUS PECS.

You might have to. Though i've been associating it with : [link] since chapter 25.

We'll have to make a best of/worst of mix tape outta this, so cheesy that it can only be played in Wisconsin.

Chakramchucker Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
OH MAN and it's even better cause I was born there. YEAH CHEDDAR HEADS :#1:

It'd be interesting to see him drawn, because I already had something like that image in my head to begin with.

That song MAY have the other song beat in cheesiness but I'm not sure. I mean, the visuals definitely got it beat.
ALRadeck Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Needs more unnecessary pelvic thrust.
theape30 Featured By Owner May 22, 2010
Awesome! Being friends.... Like it!
I can't wait to see how you mop up the mess between Neri/Nona and Raziel.
ALRadeck Featured By Owner May 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
It'll be mop-tastic, i promise.
LonelyDraptor Featured By Owner May 21, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
What will happen in the last chapter? Hmm... Biscuits and gravy fall from the sky leaving the world scary and the pickles sweet?
ALRadeck Featured By Owner May 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
....yes. You have forseen the future chapters quite correctly. :lol:
Onyxwings Featured By Owner May 21, 2010  Student Digital Artist

so thought-provoking~ =D well done again and though i'm sad that ch. 40 shall be the last one, i can't wait for it to be posted <3
ALRadeck Featured By Owner May 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
It MIIIGHT be spilling over to 41, kinda realizing i've got a lot to cover. We'll see.
Onyxwings Featured By Owner May 24, 2010  Student Digital Artist

xDD oh boy! welp, whatever happens i'll be happy xD (unless everyone dies D:)
Ramvling Featured By Owner May 21, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I have no idea what's gonna happen next chapter! The only thing I've been right about this whole time is that Neri was Nona.
ALRadeck Featured By Owner May 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
That's a good start! :lol: I remember when you were telling me that chapters back.
Ilkyra Featured By Owner May 21, 2010  Student Filmographer
Amazing, crazy, co-bonkers chapter. The only thing i saw really weird was in the beginning of the chapter where you start the fight with mike and nona and then switch-a-roo on the settings. But other than that, the whole chapter flowed nicely.
ALRadeck Featured By Owner May 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Switcheroo on the settings? Very possible, I wrote half, wrote the end, wrote more of the beginning, and edited it together. I usually don't do that.
Dagith Featured By Owner May 21, 2010
ALRadeck Featured By Owner May 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
rrreeeaaadddd! It's a story arc!
Dagith Featured By Owner May 25, 2010
ok ok, I read it...I actually read it last night, but I couldn't come up with a good comment.

honestly, I'm running out of things to say! Your characters continue to be well designed living beings, and the plot is so twisty!

so reading your other comments, I wanted to let you know that I actually re-read the first 2 chapters again say somewhere in the 33-35 range and it was pretty funny in a "i c wat u did thar" kinda way.

oh, and Cempe is now more awesome.
ALRadeck Featured By Owner May 25, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Half of that was planned, the other half was played on. I've re-read the old chapters many, many, maaaany times. We can talk beef next chapter with the end and stuff like that, i'm the same, out of comments, lol.
Dagith Featured By Owner May 25, 2010
sounds good to me :D
Knuckles5000 Featured By Owner May 21, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, that plot twist was certainly unexpected. "We're actually pretty good friends." Yeah, somehow I doubt that. I actually really like the way that Raziel reacted to the whole situation. You do a good job at making the characters seem realistic and believable. I'm anxious to see how this all ends.
ALRadeck Featured By Owner May 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
:lol: It's more a love-hate relationship. They are friends, but as friendly as you'd consider someone you really can't stand but have to rely on.

And thanks! That's 90% of the reason i can't stand most other books, the reactions and the believable aspect is always effed up. you'd think writers would have the best understanding on those types of things, but FFF.
XxThePurpleMangoxX Featured By Owner May 21, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
Golly gosh, I really have no idea about what is going to happen.

I have enjoyed your story very much :). Looking back to the beginning I never would have guessed where this would turn up, I guess that's a testiment to your skills. I'm grealy looking forward to the ending.
ALRadeck Featured By Owner May 21, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
That's half because I wasn't sure either, :lmao:
Though did put all these little things in there that if you re-read the early chapters, you'd go "D'oh, Andrea, you pulled a fast one there with the stuff I know now!" It's almost a knee-slapper, but I wouldn't go that far.
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