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The fall of lucifer, p.8
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       The Fall of Lucifer, p.8

           Wendy Alec
 
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  Raphael, Lucifer’s commander in chief and intimate companion, stood to his feet. He was tall and imperial, his noble features set. As he stood, a thousand generals rose and bowed. Raphael moved to where Lucifer stood and stopped directly in front of him. He bowed deeply, then dropped to one knee. ‘My esteemed and acclaimed sovereign.’

  Lucifer’s expression softened. ‘Raphael,’ he murmured. ‘Archangel and finest of warriors – trusted compatriot.’ Lucifer reached out his hand, and Raphael kissed the seal of Yehovah, the huge, black rubied ring on Lucifer’s left ring finger. Raphael rose and stared straight into Lucifer’s eyes, and Lucifer sighed deeply. ‘I observe that my discourse disquiets you, Raphael.’

  Raphael bowed his head. ‘I confess I am vexed, my prince.’

  Zadkiel watched them. Frozen.

  Lucifer turned away from Raphael. ‘I also am vexed that Yehovah would seek to supplant His firstborn creation with an inferior race!’

  Raphael moved in front of Lucifer and clasped his shoulders. ‘Lucifer, ancient friend, you speak of sedition? You accuse the Most High?’ Raphael stared at Lucifer, bewildered, his eyes raw with vulnerability. ‘I beseech you in the name of our friendship, retract your charge!’

  Lucifer carefully removed Raphael’s hands from his shoulders. ‘Why, my revered Raphael, surely the definition of sedition is incitement to rebellion? That is not what I seek!’ Lucifer stared at Raphael, a strange burning fervour lighting his gaze. ‘I seek only to protect the angelic host.’

  Raphael gazed at him in confusion. Then realization dawned on his face. He looked at Lucifer fearfully, then cast his eyes to the marble floor.

  Charsoc paced about the chamber as Lucifer assessed the mood of his Elite Guard.

  Raphael lifted his head, his face ravaged by anguish. ‘My prince, Yehovah sees fit to create this new race. My duty and hallowed vocation is to serve Him and execute His will in every matter.’

  He stared ahead. Impassive.

  ‘ . . . including . . . the issue of man.’

  ‘It does not bode well for the angelic race, Raphael,’ Charsoc interjected.

  With a short sharp gesture, Raphael removed his gauntlets and cast them on the ground before Lucifer. ‘I will have no part in aught of your intrigues!’

  Lucifer, swift as lightning, removed his golden cinquedea from its sheath and slashed Raphael’s rows of diamond medallions from his breastplate.

  Raphael raised his head, his imperial features forbidding. He turned to the generals and drew his sword. ‘He defiles this sanctuary with the iniquity of his trading! I shall not abide it.’

  Raphael strode out of the Chamber, followed by his thousand generals. Charsoc watched intently as an additional ten, then hundreds, then thousands of Lucifer’s finest generals rose from across the chamber and followed. The great platinum doors of the Chamber of Congregation slammed shut behind them.

  A sombre silence fell. Zadkiel stared uneasily around at the remaining generals, then at Lucifer. He lowered his gaze.

  Lucifer fell to his knees, his arms raised towards heaven. ‘Great and Mighty Yehovah, You who are both adored and incomparable, I beseech You in Your great and terrible mercies to absolve Your angelic servant Raphael and his warriors for their rash and insolent insurgence against Your servant Lucifer – Your light-bearer and chosen angelic son. May they repent and be restored once more to Your eternal mercy and glory. Grant to all these generals who remain Your divine valour and fortitude to endure what lies ahead in the crusade to preserve our angelic race.’

  Lucifer raised his head. ‘And Great Yehovah, incomparable King of the universe, grant myself – prince regent, highest of the seraphim, and second only to Your throne – eternal wisdom and revelation to protect You from the machinations of this new race, the race of men.’

  Lucifer wrapped his crimson ermine cloak around him and walked to his large throne. He sat heavily and held out his hand. Sachiel, his cupbearer, handed him a jewelled goblet filled with pomegranate elixir. Lucifer sipped deeply. Thoughtfully.

  ‘Contemplate, my glorious generals, such a day.’ A slow strange smile spread across Lucifer’s face. ‘A day that indisputably has yet to dawn on this remarkable planet of heaven with its staggering vistas,’ Lucifer caressed the rim of the goblet as he spoke, ‘its unsurpassed beauty, its unparalleled mysteries. Think of that very day and that very hour when this new race shall invade and occupy our own angelic sanctuary – and desecrate all that is pure and holy and sacred with their inferior creation. Contemplate that day and that hour well, for surely with each waking dawn it hastens, glorious warriors. One by one this new race will seek to exploit the multitude of Yehovah’s tender mercies, His manifold compassions.’

  Lucifer rose to his feet and strode down the aisle of the chamber, his darkened eyes flashing. ‘It will not stop at Eden! They will winnow their way into His inner sanctum.’ His voice became a hiss. ‘Dusk after dusk they will drive a wedge between us, the angelic host, and Yehovah until Yehovah’s desire for man’s fellowship becomes so compelling that He will have them be with Him where He dwells!’

  He swung around, his features fierce. ‘Here in heaven – in our angelic abode. Then they will seek to be as He is. They will seek to turn heaven into their dwelling place. Our holy sanctuary will be desecrated by these replicated, mewling, inferior beasts. It is a travesty! If truly we serve Yehovah, we will protect Him against His splendid and overwhelming love for them.’

  Lucifer stopped abruptly. Slowly, as though suddenly sensing he was being observed, he lifted his gaze upward. There far above him, barely visible in the upper portico of the crystal dome, stood a tall hooded figure.

  ‘Reveal yourself!’ Lucifer commanded. Charsoc stared, pale and trembling.

  The figure remained motionless, his countenance concealed by the cowled hood.

  ‘Reveal yourself!’ Lucifer’s voice rose in decibels.

  The figure walked around the lofty portico until he was directly in line with Lucifer. ‘You were perfect in your ways,’ the figure spoke in clear gracious tones, ‘from the day you were created . . . till . . . ’ He paused. ‘ . . . till iniquity was found in you.’

  Lucifer’s features contorted in agony as he felt a sharp burning sensation in his right palm. He cradled his right hand in his left, his breathing laboured, his entire body trembling as he stared down in dread at the darkening crimson stain.

  ‘Christos . . . ’ he uttered.

  Chapter Eleven

  Ebony

  Zadkiel, the tender, filled with honour and righteousness, was the kindred spirit and trusted comrade of all three brothers and the chosen intimate of Lucifer, the shining one.

  Ephaniah came out of the antechamber. ‘Milord Zadkiel!’

  Zadkiel’s gentle features lit up, and Ephaniah, Lucifer’s courtier, hesitated.

  ‘Milord Zadkiel . . . forgive me. May I speak?’

  Zadkiel smiled. ‘You have served Yehovah’s house well and faithfully for many aeons, Ephaniah. Surely you have earned the right to speak.’

  ‘I have served yourself, Master Zadkiel, when you were but a child, as I did His Excellency, Prince Michael.’

  Zadkiel nodded.

  ‘And now, for many years, I have served my master Lucifer.’ He bowed deeply. ‘The shining one.’ Ephaniah’s hands trembled. ‘You know I am devoted to him, sire.’

  Zadkiel frowned and placed his strong hand over Ephaniah’s. ‘Yes, Ephaniah, your love and devotion for Master Lucifer is beyond question. We do not doubt your allegiance,’ he soothed, sensing the faithful servant’s distress. He clasped Ephaniah’s arm. ‘Let us walk.’

  They strode together through the marble hall, beautiful paintings adorning walls and arched ceiling.

  ‘Thank you, milord,’ Ephaniah said. Then he sighed. ‘You know that for these past moons my master has been prone to fits.’

  Zadkiel nodded, his steel-grey eyes grave.

  ‘And that in those fits of anger, he is apt to do many
things that he later regrets.’

  ‘I have known this.’ Zadkiel’s voice was soft. He thought briefly of how he had brought the sacred codices to Lucifer from the Tower of Winds. That had been but the first of Lucifer’s unusual actions of late.

  Ephaniah stepped closer to Zadkiel, helplessness in his face. ‘He is become more violent, Your Excellency. He rang for me at three bells in the early morning hours, as he has been apt to do these past moons. I found him sobbing, his arms clung around his panther’s neck.’ Ephaniah trembled in horror. ‘Milord Zadkiel, Ebony was lifeless.’

  Zadkiel stared at Ephaniah blankly.

  Ephaniah grasped his arm. ‘He was lifeless, milord! What is termed as death had assailed him!’

  ‘Death!’ Zadkiel uttered disbelievingly. He stared at Ephaniah as if in a daze.

  Ephaniah swallowed. ‘My master showed me the wounds. They were the wounds of two bare hands around the beast’s still warm neck, milord Zadkiel.’ Ephaniah’s voice was but a whisper. ‘By his own hand . . . ’

  The blood drained from Zadkiel’s face, and he stopped in mid-step, a terrible dread clutching his soul. He shook his head vehemently from side to side. ‘No – no! It cannot be!’ he exclaimed. ‘You are mistaken! Death cannot exist here!’

  Ephaniah bowed his head. He shook uncontrollably with the sheer horror of what he had seen.

  Then a faint clanging of a bell filtered down the corridors to the outer courts.

  ‘It is his bell,’ Ephaniah said wearily. ‘He rings incessantly, but his door is barred.’

  Zadkiel grasped Ephaniah by the shoulders. ‘Who knows this?’

  ‘No one knows, sire – no one save yourself and Charsoc.’

  Zadkiel ran his fingers through his dark locks. ‘The chief princes?’

  Ephaniah shook his head.

  ‘They of all must know this.’

  ‘His closest staff knows only that Master Lucifer is indisposed.’

  Zadkiel released the faithful old manservant. ‘Thank you, Ephaniah. I must attend the prince regent at once.’

  Ephaniah bowed and scuttled off down the corridors.

  Zadkiel strode with speed through the palace and around the corner to the prince regent’s quarters. Two members of the Luciferean Guard stood watch at the portal to Lucifer’s private wing.

  As Zadkiel approached them to pass, Charsoc appeared in the corridor holding a sheaf of official-looking papers with the prince regent’s crest.

  Charsoc approached Zadkiel. ‘Your Excellency, Prince Zadkiel of the Holy Watchers. His Excellency Prince Regent Lucifer, anointed cherub who covers, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, has made it his express wish that he not be disturbed. He is indisposed.’

  Zadkiel stared into the hooded, inscrutable gaze of Charsoc. ‘He expressed no such wish to me, Charsoc.’

  Charsoc moved to block him. ‘He is, let us say, out of sorts.’

  ‘Yes, I am aware that he has isolated himself these past few moons. I would cheer him.’

  Charsoc’s expression softened momentarily. ‘Would that it were so.’ He nodded to the bodyguards, and they stood back. Charsoc gave Zadkiel a look that the Holy Watcher found unfathomable.

  Zadkiel frowned, wrapped his cloak tighter around himself, and walked through the winding corridors.

  At last he stopped outside Lucifer’s chamber entrance where two more members of the Luciferean Guard stood watch before the massive golden doors.

  The bell clanged incessantly. It seemed to have its source deep within Lucifer’s private quarters. Zadkiel looked at the trembling guard.

  ‘He rings the bell, milord . . . ’ The normally stoic Luciferean guard looked at Zadkiel almost pleadingly. ‘He will not stop.’

  Zadkiel nodded to the two members of Lucifer’s private guard. ‘Open the doors.’

  The guard shook his head. ‘They are barred from the inside, milord. They will not open.’

  Zadkiel put his head to the doors. Beneath the ringing of the bell he was almost certain that he heard the faint sound of a strange, wretched sobbing. He put his mouth to the door. ‘Lucifer! It is I, Zadkiel. Let me in.’

  There was a long silence. ‘Leave me!’ a hoarse voice cried out.

  Zadkiel paled. He inhaled deeply, then turned to the confused guards. ‘Your master is indisposed,’ he said gently. ‘I, Zadkiel, chief attendant to Lucifer, son of the morning, dismiss you from your posts. You may go to your quarters until you are summoned.’

  The guards bowed deeply and marched as one down the corridors, away from the huge golden doors.

  Zadkiel removed his gloves and bent down to the keyhole, his eyes filled with consternation. ‘Lucifer, it is Zadkiel, your old and trusted friend.’ His voice remained gentle.

  The clanging stopped.

  ‘Open the doors, Lucifer.’

  After a seemingly interminable silence, there came a loud scraping, and slowly the massive doors opened.

  Zadkiel entered and slammed the doors closed. He surveyed the room in horror.

  Lucifer’s clothes were strewn about the chamber floor. He lay with his arms still clinging to the strangled black panther. Its pink tongue hung out. Lucifer looked up from the chamber floor. His normally immaculate raven locks were matted and unkempt and shrouded the perfect, marblelike features. ‘Zadkiel!’ Relief spread across his face. He grasped for Zadkiel’s hand feverishly.

  Zadkiel stared down at Lucifer, horrified. He was unwashed and clothed only in his white shift robe, but still he wore his jewel-covered crown.

  Lucifer gave Zadkiel one of his magnificent, dazzling smiles and then followed his gaze to the dead panther. His features suddenly clouded over with concern. ‘He is ailing,’ he whispered.

  Zadkiel stared in horror at the strangled panther.

  Lucifer, dazed, stood groggily to his feet. He strode across his bedchamber to the casement windows and drew the heavy satin curtains with one dramatic sweep. He stopped abruptly and laid his head in his hands, rocking to and fro almost as a despairing child. ‘My mind – it pains me greatly . . . ’ He drew nearer to Zadkiel and gripped his hands so tight they turned blue, but still he would not let him go. ‘Zadkiel!’ Lucifer pleaded. Zadkiel could feel his hot breath on his cheeks.

  ‘Zadkiel,’ Lucifer begged. ‘You of all know that I loved Ebony.’ He turned to the animal. ‘Feel his cold body. He is dead . . . he is dead, Zadkiel.’

  Lucifer fell on his knees, sobs racking his body. Zadkiel watched powerlessly as he ran his fingers through the matted jet-black hair, slamming his head against the wall like a tormented animal. ‘I am the author of death!’

  His frenzied screams echoed through the chamber. He tore at his hair. The pitch of his voice made Zadkiel’s blood curdle.

  ‘I will call Michael.’

  Lucifer swung around. ‘Noooo!’ he hissed. ‘Not Michael! No!’

  He shoved Zadkiel against the door with an iron grip, his eyes suddenly lucid, his breathing shallow. ‘You must swear! Swear . . . swear your allegiance to me.’ He drew his face nearer, a new and unsettling wildness in his eyes. ‘Not to Michael . . . not to Gabriel . . . ’ A strange, evil smile glimmered on his face. ‘And not to Yehovah.’ His whisper was almost a hiss.

  Zadkiel stared at Lucifer, horror-stricken.

  Lucifer grabbed Zadkiel by the throat. ‘Swear it! Swear your allegiance to Lucifer, the shining one, chief prince of heaven. Swear your eternal allegiance to me above all others!’

  Zadkiel’s shock turned to dread.

  Lucifer watched his expression change. His grasp tightened around Zadkiel’s neck. ‘You are a man true to your word. You have always served me. Serve me again, Zadkiel. Swear your allegiance to me.’

  Zadkiel remained silent. He stared at Lucifer as he struggled to breathe, a dreadful conflict in his gentle grey eyes. Tortured.

  Finally he spoke, his words barely audible. ‘I swear my allegiance to Lucifer, anointed cherub who covers, the shining one.’

  ‘Above all othe
rs,’ Lucifer hissed.

  Zadkiel nodded, then averted his gaze.

  Lucifer dropped Zadkiel to the floor. Then he fell to his knees, sobbing wretchedly. His hand clung to the trembling Zadkiel’s as if he were a child.

  His royal ring clattered to the ground, and he scrabbled after it like a wild animal at Zadkiel’s feet. ‘I am not worthy of the Seal of Yehovah.’ Lucifer’s screams rose to a high pitch.

  ‘Lucifer!’ Tears streamed down Zadkiel’s face; his voice was hoarse with emotion. ‘Lucifer, get hold of yourself!’

  Slowly Lucifer rose to his knees, clutching Zadkiel’s legs, sobbing wretchedly. Then he rose to his full height, his face half an inch from Zadkiel’s. Zadkiel stood dead still. ‘Go to Jether,’ Lucifer said. He shook uncontrollably as he placed the heavy golden ring on the chain around Zadkiel’s neck. ‘Give him my ring as my token and tell him a terrible evil overtakes me . . . ’ He began to rock inconsolably. ‘You must go to Jether . . . ’

  Chapter Twelve

  Indisposed

  Michael’s stride was even as he walked the gleaming ebony and marble corridors, passing the superbly crafted golden sculptures that lined the way to Lucifer’s private chambers.

  He hesitated under one of the immense diamond and ruby chandeliers, in front of a new canvas. Lucifer’s latest painting stretched almost to the crystal ceilings – a slain lamb, depicted in violent butchery. A cruel and terrible triumph seemed to echo from the scene.

  Michael shuddered. He would talk to Lucifer about it. He had much to discuss with him this night. He pulled his sapphire robe over his injured shoulder and continued down the imperial corridors.

  Michael frowned. Where were the Luciferean guards? Usually they lined the hall at regular intervals. Now the corridors were strangely deserted save for Zadkiel, who came walking towards him.

  A smile broke across Michael’s face. Zadkiel stared at him, looking sombre. As one, they clasped each other’s hands in greeting.

 
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