Infinity - Rulers by Glen Shipherd by Glen Shipherd - Read Online

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Infinity - Rulers - Glen Shipherd

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Loss

1. BODY

Nothing but darkness, I cannot see or move. Drifting is all I feel. The last of my energy is moving by its own will.

Where am I going?

I moved slowly through and felt only nothingness. My energy had given me some kind of consciousness. I could not feel my being and yet I still had thought.

Is this death? How long have I been away from my body? I remember my life, time with the Father, being cast out from His throne and the moments I spent alone in Heaven.

My regret turned to anger. I learned to despise His decision to cast me out. Eventually, others came to admire my freethinking and chose to fight for me, only looking for answers to the Father’s decisions.

War, I remember so much violence, death and the final assault on the Father.

He punished a few others, and me, sending us to the planet I had created. I believed our banishment would be the end of our punishment. Yet He tried to punish my brothers by creating large creatures upon the Earth; only meant to kill them. I remember Him telling me the purpose of the dinosaurs as I fell to Earth. I do not believe the Father knew my fall would kill almost all of them along with most of the life upon the planet. They would have killed my Brothers eventually if it were not for my impact.

My confrontation with the few remaining dinosaurs was brutal. If I had to face more of them, I do not know if I would have survived. Still the creatures did lead me toward new life and a short-lived promise of a great future. Venturing into the caves gave me a companion to travel the Earth with, Vlad.

I know I have no voice, even if I did, where I am right now you would not hear me. I thank you and enjoy the time we had together. Your companionship gave me hope that we could make the Earth ours. Even after the time I spent in Heaven, I will cherish the moments and everything we learned in our travels together. The challenges we faced together were more rewarding compared to anything I felt in Heaven. I wish I could have told you this before I died.

I cleared my thoughts; again, all I could feel was a force guiding me. My energy pulled further slowly, into the darkness.

What is this? I thought it might engulf my consciousness.

There is nothing here but darkness.

Where am I being drawn?

Still darkness, drifting further and becoming more enraged over my confusion.

Azazel you did this! Azazel you killed me! I should have known better. I realized you were angry with me, but wanting to destroy everything was truly madness. You had lost your mind. Still, I believe Moloch and Mephistopheles would be pleased with you having killed me. I do regret killing Mephistopheles. My regret grew larger after Moloch destroyed himself because of what I have done.

I calmed my thoughts.

I should not have killed him, Moloch. I am sorry for my actions. I should have been patient, giving you both a chance to live the lives you created together. I understand why you were upset with me.

My energy began to move quicker. Soon, I felt the familiar warmth. The same feeling I had remembered in Heaven. The faster my energy moved, the more I concentrated to control my essence. The warmth grew stronger, but everything was still dark.

I felt an energy I had never felt in Heaven before, it was strong. The quicker my energy moved the stronger the feeling was becoming.

I know what this is! It is the Father’s collective energy! I thought as I began to panic.

The pull toward the energy became stronger.

If I become a part of it, will I no longer exist?

The energy surrounded my life force.

I cannot let this happen!

I tried to move away, but I could not control my energy. I felt myself pulling toward the source; images from the energy I was becoming a part of filled my thoughts. I could see the Earth again. Dust and chunks of earth quickly covered the stars light. A large mass of water crashed down and the water covered everything. I felt myself within the water, floating as the darkness surrounded me. It felt as if I was filling with water.

Again, an image of the dust filled the area surrounding me. I felt myself holding another as the water covered us. I could see a human in front of me moving frantically just before water and the darkness filled me completely. Similar images appeared again, many times.

I do not want you with me, I faintly heard, as more images passed through my thoughts.

I began to feel cold and I could see plants, upon the Earth, dying around me. I felt myself crawling, looking between the plants and pushing the leaves aside. I moved slower and then dropped to the ground. I felt an empty pain in my gut before the darkness came. I saw myself moving toward a dead animal, reaching out to grab it. I felt myself being torn away.

My legs held in the air, leaving me hanging above the ground. I saw a few humans begin to hit me with rocks. I could see a fire behind them before the darkness came again.

My painful death was your fault, I faintly heard.

Many images of suffering continued to fill my thoughts. The pain was overwhelming and hard to comprehend. However, I began to understand what the images were, when Vlad entered my mind. He looked as he did when first changed by my blood. He resembled more of a wolf than an Angel. I could see the cave walls as I felt him rip out my neck, then the darkness came again. Vlad appeared jumping toward me; quickly I felt my neck break. His image filled my thoughts many times.

He is here because of you, I lightly heard.

Then I could see myself looking up to see myself. I felt a great amount of pain as my wings were pulled from my body. A sharp and intense pain filled me as my head detached from my body.

I do not want you here, I heard.

Mephistopheles, is that you?

The images continued to fill my thoughts. It was endless suffering every image ending in darkness.

I realize I am with the dead. This is the Father’s collective energy. This is will be my eternal existence. Many here will remind me of what I have done to them. So many have died and all of their deaths are my fault.

The image of Mephistopheles lifeless body filled my thoughts. His body covered in blood, wings lying on his sides and holding his own head in his hands. Just the way I left him. I could feel the worst pain and despair.

Oh no, not this!

Pain continued to grow, as I looked upon the body that I had left on display for Moloch to find. I turned to see myself. I was ugly, everything I was as an Angel was gone and my beauty replaced with burnt and scarred flesh. Anguish grew strong in my thoughts.

Do you not want all of this now? Look at what the Father did to you. Can even stand to look at yourself? I heard clearly.

I recognized the voice. Azazel?

Look at what you had done to them, he said.

I continued to feel Moloch’s pain grow in my mind.

Answer me; is that you Azazel?

Pain grew intensely as I felt my body burst. Then, again, the darkness filled my thoughts.

I do not want him here with us, I heard.

More images of dying filled me. After much time passed, the images began to repeat.

I am trapped here, surrounded by the destruction I have created.

As I panicked, my energy grew. I tried to run from the energy surrounding me, but no matter where I moved to, it seemed the energy was always around me.

There is no escape.

No, there never will be one for you, I heard. I have experienced every last death I caused. I only arrived here a few moments before you Lucifer. Quickly I have learned to enjoy what I have done. I do not care, lest of all the dead trying to torment me. I know only one thing; I would do it all over again!

After his words ended, all of the images went blank.

I feel you; I know it is you Lucifer. I have no lessons to teach you. I am learning myself; I did not realize none of the others would want to share in my memories. They seem to flee as I try to share them, Azazel said.

I could see myself again. I felt myself burn from within. I looked down to see the origin. I could see the arm that punched into my body while intense flames overwhelmed me. I felt myself break part as my pain ended, then darkness again.

Azazel, you killed me!

True, but here we are together, again, he replied.

The images of Mephistopheles appeared in my thoughts all over. Again, the pain came with the images.

I do not want you here with us, I heard.

Moloch, I want him here.

The images quickly changed to seeing myself pulling the wings from Mephistopheles, again.

I want him gone.

There is nothing any of us can do. He is dead, like us.

The images switched back to the headless body and then back to pulling off Mephistopheles wings. The images went on and after a while, I could see many more of the humans dying because of my fall. Every death I had been responsible for ran through my thoughts. I could feel my energy begin to push away from the rest.

No, I want him here with us. I heard again.

None of us want him here.

The voices continue to argue. The energy pushing me away became stronger. I felt my energy thrown from the rest. The images in my thoughts stopped. Again, darkness filled me. I seemed to have control of my energy as I drifted away. I could feel the warmth of Heaven again. I moved around through the darkness aimlessly.

They cast me out! Even the dead have chosen not to accept me.

Drifting I could feel a different energy. As I came closer, it felt stronger. It seemed to pulsate with life.

This must be a living Angel. Perhaps I could enter his body.

I moved closer, his energy felt even stronger as I approached.

Wait, I cannot do this. He feels too strong to overcome. Perhaps as I enter his body I could use his energy to strengthen myself. No, I will not take another life just because I need a body.

I moved away. As I traveled further, I felt a new life force becoming weaker.

Is an Angel dying?

I move toward it as quick as I could. As I moved closer, the energy began to fade away. Before it was completely gone, I moved to where I felt it last.

I feel heavy again. Did I enter the body?

I was able to see again. Turning my head, I could see Lasher draw his sword and drive it into this body.

You were meant to serve as well, he rules in here. Your death is your own fault. You have defied him, Lasher said.

What have you done? Why has Lasher done this to you?

I would rather die than to serve him. Go ahead and take my body; he has mangled it. Stop him please. I fought for you before. The Father punished all of us for following you. I have no regrets following you. Even though we won the war, the Father is too powerful. I feel our judgment was not deserved. Take my body and stop the torment. I trust in you, Lucifer, I heard as the energy faded.

Darkness filled my sight as the body closed it eyes.

How did he mangle your body?

There was no response.

Is he gone?

I concentrated to control the body. Within a short moment, I opened the body’s eyes. Lasher stood above me with his sword in his hand. He pulled up from my new body, I grasped the swords blade and pushed it away from myself. I felt the pain from the blade as it was removed. I concentrated to heal the internal wounds.

I am sorry brother. The swords penetration on your heart, I thought it would give you a quick and painless death, Lasher said.

He pulled his sword back and raised it up.

I promise this blow will end your suffering, he said.

Thrusting his sword toward me, I stopped it between my hands. The body felt weak compared to my real body. I tried pulling the sword from his hand.

Stop Lasher, stop this now! I desperately shouted.

He did not stop pressing the blade toward me. I forced it to my side. As I released it, the tip struck the ground. Moving as fast as I could, I tried to get away from him. My limbs felt stiff and I was only able to roll a few feet away from him.

Do not make this difficult. If I do not kill you now he will make you suffer, he said.

He slashed his sword toward my neck. As I rolled away from the strike, I felt some movement in my legs.

You know I had to beg him to be allowed to give you a quick death. Do you want to become one of Death’s council members?

As I tried to get up, he drove the sword into my shoulder. I grabbed it as I rose to my feet. Lasher’s eyes grew larger as I removed the blade from my new body. I pushed it down and hit his chest with a closed hand. The blow caused him to step back.

Whatever promise you made was not meant for me. It was meant for whoever’s body this was.

He tried to attack me again. Quickly I grabbed his wrist and hit him a few times until he dropped onto his knees. I let go of his wrist and he looked up at me.

You know he will do worse to you. Please, for me, I do not want you to suffer anymore. Has he not done enough to you? Stop fighting and let me kill you quickly, he said.

I am not who you think I am, Lasher.

Do not try to fool me. I have his orders to kill you.

Lasher, it is me Lucifer.

I reached my hand out to him.

Believe me.

He dropped his sword and looked deeply into my eyes. Slowly he reached out for my hand. As he grasped it, without concentrating, I felt energy flow into my body from him. I held my arm steady as he pulled himself up. He stood to his feet and let go of my hand. He looked at me as I concentrated to heal my chest and shoulder wounds. He watched me healing.

How is this possible? No other Angle can heal himself.

I always could, do you remember? I asked.

We were told you had died by the Father’s hand.

No, I did not die by the Father’s hand. I died on Earth by Azazel’s.

Azazel? He was one of your generals, why would he kill you?

He lost his mind. His time on Earth warped his judgment.

I understand, he replied.

I looked upon Lasher, his armor was dark and without color. It bared a symbol resembling the face of Death. Then I realized his wings were gone. I reached behind to feel for my wings. All I could feel was the raised mound of flesh where they once were.

Death removed all of our wings, he said.

Your armor? The Father’s symbol is gone from it.

This was the Father’s punishment. Death wants to control all of us and the Father gave it to him. After your attack upon Father, He told us you were gone forever. He said you burned to ash and explained how disappointed He was the rest of us. The last of your living Army, He killed. I remember balls of energy came from the bodies and moved toward Him, He collected the energy.

I began to feel weak, my body dropped to its knees and I lost control. I felt Lasher’s hand against my chest keeping my upper body from falling.

Are you all right?

I believe so. It seems my body is not feeling itself yet. I have closed my outer wounds. I just need more time to heal internally. Lasher continue, what did the Father do next? I asked.

The Father made Death our ruler. He told him He was angry we helped you, even though we died fighting for Him. He handed Death the energy He had collected and Death used it to bring the dead back to life. The Father told us our punishment would be to serve Death for eternity. I think our punishment was unfair and too severe. The ones of us that died blame the Father for giving Death the power to bring us back. We never would have wanted revenge.

Perhaps I can use their anger to my advantage.

You must realize everything in Heaven has changed. He told Death and all of us to stay away from His Throne. He promised that if any others challenged Him He would give them to Death. Then he gave Death the temples and the Coliseum to do with as he wished. The Father left with an Angel I had never seen before after speaking to Death.

My body dropped to the ground onto its side. Lasher rushed to grab me. He held me up, as I remained sitting.

Lucifer, you look to be dying, he said.

My internal wounds do not seem to be healing.

I felt my mouth fill with blood. As I tried to speak, the blood shot out splattering onto his chest plate.

What can I do help you? You cannot die again. I need your help, only you can change Heaven again.

I do not know, I have become used to my energy on Earth. Give me a moment to think. We have all become much more powerful upon the Earth, I said.

I closed my eyes.

Take as much time as you need.

I replenished myself using the life force around me to fight Azazel when my energy was weak.

I felt Lasher lower me back down onto the ground.

Moloch was almost dead when the humans brought him back. He took their life force to heal himself. I did feel energy come into my body when I held Lasher’s hand. However, he is dead, no life force.

I opened my eyes and looked at Lasher. The Father, I said.

What do you mean? You believe He will help you, forgive you? He said.

No, after I created the humans of the Earth I had to fight the Father. At the time, He was very weak and unable to stop me. So, He used Angels to become stronger.

I do not understand how can this help you, Lucifer?

I can take the Angel’s energy for myself. Yes, it is the only way. Lasher, you must help me to take an Angel’s life force.

You want me to help you kill again?

If need be, yes.

I do not know, he replied.

You must.

Take another’s life…for you? I do not…No, I cannot!

Lasher, please, I begged.

No! He shouted.

I feel weaker with every passing moment. Please.

I am sorry, there must be another way.

I looked down at my chest. The wound had blood dripping from it. I used the last of my energy to try to heal it. I looked at Lasher’s chest plate with Death’s image on it.

I looked into his eyes. Death told you to kill the Angel this body belonged to, did he not?

Yes, he replied.

You told me, you want me to help you change Heaven. So you need to help me, so I can stop Death.

True, but I have become wary of taking life from another. Under Death’s will, I have become a slave to it. He always sends me to kill the disobedient. If I help you kill, I will be following the same path that has doomed me to be here.

Lasher, you will not have to kill. I will do that myself. Hopefully it will be the last time you have to be involved in a killing.

You cannot make it on your own. I would have to bring you to them. I do not want to.

Lasher, I promise you I will do everything I can to never ask this of you again.

When you get your strength back you might have to kill again. Any of those deaths will be my fault for helping you. Lucifer, give me your word you will not kill another.

I know I cannot keep his promise.

Even Death? I asked.

Yes, even Death.

He wants the impossible.

I will do my best, I replied.

No, I need your word.

Darkness came over me. My energy rose as I walked from the darkness. I could see Lasher.

I am too weak; death will come again, soon.

I…give you…my word, I struggled to say.

Lasher rose from the ground.

I will take you to the others. After that, you will be on your own. You will have no more help from me, he said.

Yes, I understand.

He walked to me and picked me up from the ground. He put my arm over his shoulder. Even as my feet were on the ground, he had control of my movements. He walked slowly and my feet began to drag on the ground.

Are you going to die soon?

I do not know, just move quickly, I said.

Perhaps if we go to the outer rim of Death’s domain, we can avoid confrontation with others. There are a few that watch the barrier, under his orders, but we watch over large areas, alone.

I trust your judgment.

Lasher continued walking us further. Darkness came over me again, but I could still feel us moving.

Lucifer, are you alive? I heard, but could not respond.

We are almost there. Can you hear me?

I tried to respond to his questions, but my mouth did not move. I tried to move my arm that was over his shoulder.

Did it move?

I felt your movement. The guard is near.

Even through the darkness, I felt my body drop to the ground.

Carlton, come here, I heard.

A few moments passed.

What do you want Lasher?

Death commanded me to kill this Angel. He tried to fight his execution, but I overcame him. I have carried his body for a while. He belongs in our burial place. I am worn out; can you carry the body for me? I heard Lasher ask.

Lasher, you know I have my own orders to follow. I heard Carlton reply.

I am sorry to ask this of you. You know how it works around here. Death would rather I leave the body where I killed him. It is wrong and you know this. That is why we need to have our burial place.

Yes I know, but if Death finds out that I have ignored my duties and follows me, he would not only learn our secret, but also order my execution.

I need you to take that chance. Our brother deserves the same treatment we all promised each other. Death will never know you have gone. I will stand and cover your post.

I did not hear a response from Carlton.

What if this was you? Lasher asked.

Yes, you are right. I will take him.

Go, move quickly, Lasher replied.

I felt my body rise up. I concentrated on the energy in Carlton. Instantly the darkness lifted as I drew his energy into my body. I held onto him even as he let go of me. As I fell, his body came down with me. Before I could feel his energy completely diminish, I let go of him.

I opened my eyes. Carlton lay before me, his eyes staring back into mine.

What is this I feel? He asked.

I stood up from the ground. Thank you, I needed most of your energy to heal myself. I believe you will recover in time.

I thought only the Father can do this. You cannot be an Angel, so who are you?

Lucifer, I replied.

He smiled and said, Stop him; stop Death.

I am still weak, but I will do my best. I give you my word.

I looked toward Lasher.

You did not tell me you did not have to kill him to take his energy, he said.

I let him go before I took all of his life force. Realizing how strongly you feel about not wanting any more death, I decided not to take all of his energy. Still, I feel weak.

I looked at the wound on my chest as it faded away, then looked back at Lasher.

The wound may be gone, but I am not fully healed. Stay here, I need to find another.

That might not be the best decision. I can stand guard here, as none of the other will approach as long as they see one of us monitoring the area. However, you will need to get him away from here before any of the others see his body on the ground.

Where should I take him?

Not far from here, he said as he pointed behind me. Take him in that direction. You will find the area.

I picked up Carlton then turned around.

Carlton, please accept my apology for deceiving you, Lasher said.

I forgive you. Knowing he is here to change this place has given me relief in my thoughts.

I walked as fast as my body was able to move.

Your name is Carlton?

Yes, he replied.

Thank you for what you have done for me, Carlton. Even thou we never spoke directly to each other, I do remember you.

You realize that I fought in the Father’s army?

I know, but after your death, you fought for me, I said.

Now I must serve Death. We were told that you died, he said. It is good that you have returned.

Nothing I have heard since my return makes any sense. However, I know that Death’s rule over all of you must come to an end.

I came to an area with a few bodies already lying on the ground.

This is the place. Lucifer put me down.

I gently placed his body down, on the ground, and turned to return to Lasher.

Lucifer, I heard behind me.

I stopped and turned to look at Carlton.

Much has changed. You called me an Angel. I have not been called that in a long time. I have regretted my actions that brought me in this place. We are no longer called Angels; Death has renamed us. We are now Death’s Reapers, he said.

2. REAPERS

As I looked around a glistening light caught my attention, from the ground. I walked closer to it and looked at the light. I bent down to look even closer.

I had almost forgotten about these.

I reached down, grabbed one of the clusters, and stood back up. I held it up to look at it.

So beautiful, the Father called them starlight. He put them all over Heaven, just as plants grow on the Earth’s surface these clusters grow in Heaven. From the top of His throne, I could see them, shining all over the ground. It reminds me of the stars lights filling the universe. I always thought the Father thought the same as I did. We never talked about our feelings of them, but I believe they reminded Him of the stars. I wish we had talked more.

It felt as hard as a rock as I grasped it tighter.

Clean and pure, He did tell me He felt about them.

Lucifer put it back, please, I heard Carlton’s voice from behind me.

The sound of his voice broke my concentration. As I lowered the starlight back to where I found that, I noticed other piles placed in rows in front of me. I put it down and stood up to look at all the piles.

This is where the dead are being kept, Lasher’s idea of a burial place? There are many piles here.

Carlton, is each pile an Angel?

Yes, each one, he said.

Who did this? Was it the Father?

No, all orders from Death.

Death killed them all?

No, he does not do it himself. He orders Lasher to kill them.

I turned to face Carlton. Lasher always follows his orders to kill?

He has no other choice. If Lasher ever decided not to follow his orders, Death would kill Lasher himself. We all appreciate what Lasher is willing to do for us, he started to explain.

When we first came here, Death attacked us one by one and started pulling off our wings. Then he used his power to change the armor we wore. Some of us became upset and terrified of him and tried to escape. Death gathered all of us in the Coliseum and called out to the Angels who tried to escape. He made each of them stand in the center of the Coliseum. Death then randomly chose an Angel to punish any that had tried to escape. The first was reluctant to kill. He became upset and told us if any defy his will they would be punished also. Lasher stood up and told him he would be his executioner. He told all of us, he felt responsible for our fate, as it was he who led us into battle against the Father. He told Death it should be his burden only. Death agreed and most of us are thankful he did it, he said.

Why did Death order Lasher to kill the Angels body I am in now?

I do not know exactly why. All I can say, if any of us do not follow his every word, we will be killed. We have learned never to question him. Sometimes he tells Lasher to kill only to remind us we belong to him and must never defy him.

I turned back and looked at all of the starlight piles again.

This has to stop. I said.

Yes, stop Death’s control over us. Lucifer, please help.

Where is Death at the moment?

He has changed the Coliseum into his temple. He is always there.

The Father gave him the Coliseum only to anger me. When I was cast out, it was where I found refuge, where the others cast out found me and where my army’s war against the Father began. All I have known He has taken away from me. I only wanted to be by His side as an equal. Servitude is not life.

Then I will go to the Coliseum, I said.

I turned to face Carlton. Will you be fine here?

Even if I felt I was going to die, I would still tell you to go. Truthfully thou, I am tired and nothing more. I only want to rest and just so you know it has been a very long time since I could rest in peace. I know change is coming and I am glad, he said.

Be aware that Reapers constantly control his domain. Watch for them, in the body you are in now they will only know he punished you and ordered your death.

I looked around and studied the area.

All here seems to look as I remember it, I said.

I looked toward Carlton on the ground. I could see his eyes were closing. Rushing to his side, I lowered down next to him. I am sorry I took so much of your energy.

No…it is all right. I am only tired.

I stood back up. Hopefully things will have changed by the time you are done resting. We shall see each other again soon.

Yes, I hope so, he replied softly.

I looked to find the nearest temple; in the far distance, I could see one.

I do not feel as strong as I had on Earth. I am still weak in this body, but I must move on. I will go to Death and stop all of this.

I began to run as fast as my legs would take me, constantly looking around the area for any of Death’s Reapers. Continuing to run, the temple in my sight appeared to become closer. A fog slowly began to surround me. I stopped running to a slow walk as the fog became thicker. Soon I was not able to see the temple.

I came to a stop and looked around. As the air thickened, I could see shadows approaching from the sides of me. I kept looking at the shadows as they came closer.

What are you doing? You do not belong here, I heard.

I remained silent.

Lasher has not killed him. Bring him to me.

Yes, as you wish, I heard from another being.

The shadows within the fog disappeared. I stood for a while watching for any movement.

Where do they go? Whose voices did I hear?

I crouched down and remained silent. Again, I looked around for anything approaching me. Slowly I crawled forward through the blinding fog.

Are they gone?

I stood back up, moving forward slowly, I could not see or hear anything. I began to run forward. Within only a few steps, I collided into a stone wall.

What happened? I should have seen this wall if it was this close.

I took a step back. Quickly the fog lifted. As I regained my sight, I could see the temple in front of me.

This cannot be right. The Temple was much further away when I first saw it. I know I did not travel that far.

From the side of my eye, I saw something approaching me. I dropped down and crawled behind a large pillar. I rested my back against the pillar.

I must calm myself. My mind is full of confusion.

As my mind cleared, I took a few deep breaths. I felt panic wash over me again when I heard a voice nearby.

I saw you move behind the pillar. Come out, Death has beckoned you.

I moved my head to look around the pillar. I saw Luis standing on the other side. Quickly I crawled to another pillar of the temple.

My body is too weak to fight him off me.

Stop trying to run away. You know I must take you to him. I do not know why Lasher failed to kill you, but you have nowhere to run.

I looked back to see him following me. Peering ahead, I saw another temple nearby. I rose up to crouch against the pillar. I pushed myself off and started to run toward the other temple. Again, fog filled the area. I ran as hard as I could, but it seemed that I was not moving. The fog thickened as I ran into the wall of the next Temple. I fell onto my back from the force of the impact. I felt hands on my shoulders as I tried to get up, but the arms of Luis surrounded my head. His arms pressed onto my neck.

Fine, I will bring you to him by force, he said.

He lifted me by my neck. I felt too weak and dazed to resist. As he walked, I felt my legs dragging on the ground. All the fog lifted away. As my mind cleared, I could see the Temple was again further away. I put my hands onto the arm pressing my neck.

Do not struggle. I am taking you to see Death.

I pulled on his arm and struggled to raise my head up.

I know. You have no need to drag me there. Let me up and I will go with you willingly, I struggled to say.

He let go of me and I fell onto my back. I put my hand around my neck. As I rubbed it, I felt a bone out of its place under the skin.

How can this be? He did not hold me tight. Why is my neck broken?

I rolled over and slowly began to rise to my knees. I tried to straighten my head, but it would not move.

Your neck is broken, how can you still be alive?

Again, I tried to pull my head up. I could hear the bone cracking even though it barely moved.

I am too weak.

Nova, speak up, he said.

I do not know why.

I raised my hand toward him. Will you help me to my feet?

Yes, of course.

I felt his hand caress mine; it did not feel like flesh.

His hand must be covered by something. No, this will not do.

I drew my strength into my arm and pulled him down in front of me. I could see his face below me. I quickly put my hands on his head to hold him still. I began to draw his energy into my body. His life force began to fill me. A few loud cracks of bone filled my ears. After I straightened my neck, I looked down at him.

Luis, you were right. There was no possibility Nova could be alive with a wound of this kind. The truth is Nova is dead. Lasher killed him, I said.

Feeling his energy become weak, I let him go. He kept lowered to the ground. As I stood up, I felt him grab my leg. I looked back down at him.

Who are you if Nova is dead?

My brother, it is I, Lucifer.

He looked up at me and smiled. Why…no, how are you here in this body?

It is a long story and I do not have the time to explain. I need to go and face Death now.

Just wait here; he sees everything near the temples.

Good, if he sees Nova is still alive, he will allow me walk right up to him. Rest now, we will reunite another time, I said.

Yes, I hope we will. You should know Death has become much stronger.

I have heard, I replied as I began to walk toward the coliseum.

This looks all-too-familiar.

I turned around and looked at the Father’s throne in the far distance.

The Father’s light appears to be gone from this place. Somehow, Death must be keeping His light from being seen here. Without being able to see the light, I am sure many of the Angels have lost any hope of being able to rejoin with the Father. I am sure it keeps the Angels devoted to Death.

I looked around again.

None of this seems too changed. I once found my refuge in this place. I never feared the Fathers light, but I did feel soulless and my anger rose when I stepped away and stood in the shadows.

I looked at the archways at the bottom of the structure.

I remember standing against those walls, out of His light. When the others began to join me, I was the only one to continue to stay in the shadows. My brother stood in His light sharing their anger with each other. At first, I felt He could not hear my thoughts. However, I came to realize the shadows meant nothing; the Father was ignoring us. I wonder if Death realizes the Father put him here only to turn His back on him. Perhaps Death has not blocked His light. The Father could have removed His light from this place.

Moving on, I came closer to the Coliseum. I could see a few Angels guarding the entrance. They looked toward me as I approached.

Nova, Death is waiting for you! I heard Razmoore shout.

I know! I shouted back as I came closer to them.

You were judged, Kasoroth said loudly.

I know.

I kept moving between them to the entrance.

You should be dead, Druzell said as I passed by.

Yes, I know, yet I am here now.

Just go in. I would believe a fate worse than death awaits you now, Steffon said in my ear.

I stopped and Steffon backed away.

Ha…..Ha…. A fate worse than death you say, I laughed.

I turned around to face them all.

First dying and being forced out from others that have died, only because they will not have you with them, then to be in another’s body only to be killed again. Finally, only to hear from all of my brothers their ill will. To think we once stood together. I am disappointed with all of you, I said.

They stood silent staring at me.

You do not make any sense Nova, just go in, Steffon said.

Lasher would be a fine leader. You all seem to be lost without one.

I turned around and walked into the entrance. The inner halls were dark; every torch that once burned here had been put out. The only light came from an opening at the center of the arena. As I walked under the arch, leading to the arena, I could see a large throne in the center. The sound of the gate crashing down came from behind. My movements did not deter from the sound behind me.

He wants me not to escape from here. I would do the same if I were he.

Fog began to surround the area. Walking toward the Throne, a large dark shadow came close to me.

Why do you not seem to have any fear? The last time I saw you, the judgment passed on you made you beg and cry for forgiveness. Nevertheless, you have forgotten to kneel when you enter my Throne room. This is my temple, yet you ignore my rules, I heard from within the fog.

I felt my legs struck hard by something as I fell to my knees. The shadow moved in front of me.

That is better. Counsel, you have witnessed his defiance again. Even though his execution was not carried out, I will give him a chance to explain and a new judgment will be made. My rules will not be changed no matter the circumstances. I will allow you to plead your case before this council passes a new sentence on to you.

The shadow moved away from me, as it seemed to move on to the throne.

Death is that you? I asked.

No, you will not act ignorant. You know who I am. Counsel, take notice on how he shows me disrespect with his words of ignorance! He shouted.

The fog lifted. Death sat upon his Throne pointing to the ground.

Come here and kneel in front of me.

I went to face Death, but remained standing. He looked at me in silence for a moment. I could see his hands grasp the arms of his Throne.

Again, he shows nothing more than his defiance. He pointed his finger at me, Kneel!

No, I will not, I replied.

Counsel, you heard his words.

I looked around and could only see the bodies of lifeless Angels propped up upon the lower seats of the arena. None of them seemed to move. I noticed that some had been positioned with their arms up as if gesturing and responding to his words.

Are they all dead? Is this his counsel?

Look at me!

I faced him again and saw that the fire in his eyes burned brighter.

Why, Nova? Lasher did not carry out his orders to kill you and I do not understand but he will have to answer to me and then he will be punished, he said.

Perhaps I have already killed him.

Stop talking, he shouted as his eyes blazed brighter.

I do not believe you. He must have let you go. I will kill him myself. First, the Council will hear why he let you go in your own words. Lasher has served us for a long time now. What have you said to him to make him betray me?

Perhaps it is what he sees in me, I replied.

Ha, what did Lasher see in you to make you worth dying for?

He did it because of who I am.

Did you hear his words counsel? I will tell you who you are. You are a Reaper…forever my Reaper.

Who are you talking to? Perhaps he did this only because you are talking to a counsel made up of dead Angels.

How dare you! He shouted.

Death stood from his throne and drew his sword. He lunged toward me driving the blade into my gut.

Enough, I will kill you myself. Then I will kill Lasher!

I put my hands around the hilt of his sword.

No, you will not kill either of us.

I pushed my body away from him removing the blade from my body. Before I let him go, I began to draw his energy into my body; instantly great strength overcame me. He pushed me away, and then took a few steps back.

How can this be?

You do not see who was in front of you? I asked.

What did you say?

You heard me, now think. We have faced each other before.

No…no….you are not Nova.

The fire in his eyes grew brighter for a brief moment and then he sat back down on his throne and dropped the sword. The fire in his eyes diminished.

This makes perfect sense. Lasher had no choice but to let you go. I know you cannot die, but why are you in Nova’s body?

My body is on Earth, I replied.

Death remained silent for a moment.

Is that all you have to say in explanation? Let me change my question, how are you in Nova’s body?

I do not wish to explain the reason why to you. I want to know why you are here. Why is the throne, dedicated to you, here in the Coliseum? How are you in control of these Angels?

You come here demanding answers from me and yet you fail to give me answers? Lucifer, this is my domain now. As I see it this is a test of the Father. You stand before me in the body of another, claiming your body is on Earth. My belief is now in question. Am I to kill you now? I have been given this domain, in preparation for your return. This was the Father’s will. Now that you know this, do you still dare to be aggressive toward me? You will show me respect, understood?

A conflict with you is not why I am here. I gave Lasher my word that I would not kill you. Honestly from what I have seen I do not know why he would want to allow your continued existence.

Kill me? Do you even believe you can? Still, it is good if you did have the chance that Lasher’s loyalty to me has stopped you from even trying. So then Lucifer, perhaps it is just time for me to kill you.

I will defend myself no matter what I have promised him.

He stood from his throne. He spread out his arms and to my surprise wings came out spreading behind him.

The Father gave him wings? I cannot believe this. He must now consider himself an Angel. With his new strength and arrogance, he probably viewed the others as unworthy to be an Angel anymore. He ripped their wings off their bodies and renamed them Reapers. He has become a monster.

Lasher has served me for a long time now. I shall respect his will and call a truce with you.

Fair enough, I replied.

He lowered his arms and wings and sat back down.

To show you my good faith, I will answer your questions first, he said.

He lifted his hand, and I could hear the gate open from behind me.

Something for you my new friend to sit upon, he shouted.

It is not necessary.

Yes, it is Lucifer; I want you to be comfortable as we speak to each other. It is a small gesture of my intentions for you.

I could hear something being dragged behind me. Turning to look, Bane, another of my Angels, struggled to push a large stone toward me. The stone was carved to resemble a small throne. I watched as he approached me. He stopped when the stone was next to me and looked into my eyes.

Nova, you were sentenced to be killed.

Silence Bane, leave us, Death said.

I looked at Death.

Now sit, please.

I sat and turned to watch Bane leave.

He was a great fighter. It is hard to see him like this.

After he left, the gate closed behind him. I faced Death.

He and the others are slaves to this abomination.

Why treat him with such disrespect? I asked.

"I have earned the right. You left with Andrew. After he died, I brought him back to life. I ordered him to search for my body. He took us away from your army, which was fighting around the Father’s throne. I heard a loud humming sound coming from behind us. After ordering him to turn around, I saw a blinding light come from atop of the Father’s throne. The light filled Heaven for a moment. When my sight came back, I witnessed that all the fighting had stopped.

Every Angle stood facing the throne. A loud crack came from the top that echoed through the area. I waited to see if the fighting would continue. The Angles began to move back from the throne. I was surprised to see the Father walking down the stairs. As He approached the bottom, the Angles continued to move further back."

The Father came down from His throne? He never came down before. I cannot remember even once, I said interrupting Death.

Death starred at me for a moment.

What happened after He came down? I asked.

He remained silent.

You have not explained why you have control over this place.

Again he did not speak.

Why has he stopped?

I looked at him and waited for a response.

Has he become even vainer?

I am sorry I interrupted you, please continue.

Do not do it again. As He came to the bottom, your remaining Angles began to run away from Him. He lifted His hand and said, Stop. All of the fleeing Angles instantly stopped in place. They turned and came back in front of Him. He called out for me to come to His side. I ordered Andrew to run toward Him. As we got closer, I heard Him say, There you are. Just as He ended His words, I was next to Him…..Before I continue; did you really stab the Father’s leg with a sword?

I did not respond.

You may speak now, he said.

Belial injured the Father, not me. The bright light you saw was the Father sending Belial, Moloch, Azazel, Alexander and Mephistopheles to the Earth. It was their punishment for attacking Him.

Disappointing, I would have had greater respect for you. However, Belial wounded the Father. Tell me this, were you fighting Him and Belial caught Him off guard?

I do not care if you have respect for me or not. I was trying to speak with Him and they came from behind to surprise Him. Really, should you even care about this? They were cast out from Heaven for their actions. You will never see them again, I said.

"Fine, Belial’s attack must have angered the Father greatly. He said the Angles whom followed you would be punished. Then he lifted his hand again and all of your Angles fell to the ground, dead.

He told me to stand in front of Him. He gathered all of their energy and told me to bring them back from death and I would have absolute control over them. I told the Father I was never able to control them before and how would this be different. He pointed to my head and it rose up from Andrew’s hands and moved toward the Father. He said He would give me all the power needed to control each of them. He returned my body to me, then touched my head and overwhelming strength filled me. I felt my body change as wings emerged from my back. He called me his Angle of Death, and then told me to take all of the dead here.

He created a barrier around this place and called it my domain. He said none of them could ever leave here. I asked if He had given me the strength to accomplish my task. He said from that time forward all the dead across the universe would be sent to my domain and I was to use it to sustain my power. He handed me the energy He gathered from your Angles, and then returned to His throne. Using the energy, to bring them back from death, they followed me here. "

He stopped speaking for a moment.

This was your refuge, after you were cast out, was it not?

Yes, it was.

Did the Father keep you from leaving as He did me?

No, I was here alone for a very long time and felt too much shame. I never even thought to return after all that time. After being cast out, the Father did not tell me to stay in this place. I found it and made the choice to stay.

I stood up and walked to the wall surrounding the bottom. I jumped up to the top of the wall.

What are you doing? he asked.

I turned and looked at him.

Going to the top of the Coliseum, unless you are going to try and stop me.

No, do as you please. I believe I know what you want to see. I shall join you.

I walked up an aisle between the seats until I reached the outer wall behind the highest seats. I look behind me, Death stood there.

I am not trying to leave, I said.

I know, go ahead and look upon them.

I jumped up and barely grasped the top. After I pulled myself up, I looked around. Death landed next to me.

There they are all four temples.

Do you know why the Father put them here? he asked.

No, while I alone I spent much time asking myself that very question. Most of my existence was spent with Him creating the universe. The throne was the only place I knew. After being here a long time I have studied each one in detail looking for answers. However, I never did, and then the results of the war I raged never gave me a chance to ask Him.

What do you think they are?

I looked at Death.

The first time I saw the temples, it gave me a sense of comfort and I did not know why. It was a feeling as if I was here before and belonged. I had no memory of the past here and yet I stayed only here in this place because of the feelings they gave me. I will never tell the Father this; He will never know my true feelings.

If you look at the temple you might notice it resembles the Father, I said as I pointed to the temple furthest from us.

I thought the same; it does look like the Father, but what of the others?

I do not know what to think. Two of them remind me of the Father. The furthest one looks almost identical to him, the other has similarities but it is not him. Perhaps they once fought for the rule of Heaven.

True, but what of the temple closest to us; it has only a head on top?

That being must have been larger compared to the others. It must have been too massive to create a Temple of his full body. For some time, I believed all of them lived in each of their own temples. I thought they would converse and entertain each other within this Coliseum. I came to the decision that it could not be true. I have looked everywhere in this place. It was pristine when I arrived. If they did socialize here, there would be some sign that they had. I think these must be monuments to others the Father knew and respected. The universe is immense, but I have never seen any others like the Father. All the time we spent together He never spoke of any others and Heaven was never invaded by any of them. I then felt the Father’s cruelty toward me. Perhaps He fought them for control of the universe. These could be His trophies.

I do not know if I feel the same as you. Nevertheless, you have known the Father better than I have. In addition, you have been here alone with your thoughts for a very long time. Your anger must always fill your thoughts do they not? I just do not feel the same as you. The Father has given me so much and I feel I have given little in return. My strength and power, even my own existence, I have only Him to thank. If there were others like Him, I do not believe He would kill them willfully. If these monuments are reminders for the Father, they must be somewhere in the universe you have never seen before.

That cannot be, I would have seen at least one of them. If you are having difficulty seeing my point of view, then why do you believe that the temples are here?

He made them out of respect. Perhaps they challenged each other from time to time. I just cannot see Him killing His own kind.

You just do not see the Father as I do, I said.

I turned around and looked upon the bottom of the arena.

Then why did He create this Coliseum? I