Heaven is For Real: Epilogue
Many do not know that night can fall on the Heavens too. The yellow, brightly lit star far below the district of Paradise now had a blue hue around it, signifying the night has come.
Deep within the many structures inside the Archangel Citadel were the Council's living quarters. Nine large, separate rooms for each council member. Eight of them were vacent. It was never required that all the members had to live inside the citadel. Mike would be on Earth, serving out his temporary suspension until he was called back again. Gabi would switch between crashing in her own living quarters and staying over at her girlfriend's home. Barachiel never stayed inside his room. He had his own private home to return to, where is wife and large family would be waiting. Nor did the Archangel of Truth, Azrael, before his mysterious absence, rarely stayed in this room. Although, many suspected that the elder angel rarely slept. And now it was completely empty, collecting dust on empty spaces.
The sole angel that was present in their living quarters was the Archangel of Peace herself, Ariel. She had informed the others that she was going to turn in early for the night, leaving the rest to discuss what had to be done about the return of their ancient enemy. She lied of course. Still awake and staring out into the vast, floating cityscape of Paradise.
The room was dark. Not that this made a difference to a blind angel like her. Many shadows project throughout the room from the star's light. Suddenly one of the shadows moved. It slithered out from a cracked corner and down slowly to the floor. The shape moved itself closer to the archangel like stalking predator.
Ariel smiled. "I was wondering if that was you lurking in the shadows," she told the shadow that encroached behind. "I was concerned you may not come this time."
The shadow stepped into the light, taking the form of a large centaurian-insectoid demon wearing a heavy cloak over its hunched shoulders. The head was rounded with three pairs of soulless, spider-like eyes, and wore a dark mitre hat over its brows. A black, ragged scarf covered the lower half of its hideous face. Around the neck was a glass amulet that looked like a human skull. The demon's large arachnid legs carried its great body. Clik-clik-clik. The archangel listened to them tap across her floor. Following the sounds of its feet came another sound came from a wooden staff that the demon carried in its six-fingered hand.
"It takes a while to slip through that magical barrier the Creator set long ago," a low voice bellowed. Ariel could make out that it came from a set of pincers that clicked together. "It still amazes me that it has kept demons out for so long." These pincers would always be hidden behind a scarf it wore. The archangel did not react. She knew precisely who the intruder was.
Ariel turned to face the demon directly. "How have you been, Legion?" she gave the ancient demon a friendly smile.
"Doing fine, thank you lady Ariel." Legion answered. "Everything is well in the Inferno too." he poured himself two cups of tea he brought on his trip. "We are, however, experiencing a greater rise in scavenger populations lately. The origin of this is still a mystery." Legion offered the archangel one of the cups. Ariel thanked him and stretched out her hand. It missed the cup, going for the demon's large face. Her fingers brushed along the scarf over his mouth, feeling the sleek threads under her fingertips.
"Is that the scarf I gave you several decades ago," she asked. "during the time of the Winter Solstice?"
Legion gulped. "I... hadn't noticed." Each six of those eyes followed the path her hand went. "They all look the same in these old eyes of mine." Ariel smiled again. He was always a bad liar in front of her. It was indeed the scarf she gave him, recognizing the stitchwork from the silks made from garasu spiders of Yomi.
Once she was done teasing the old spider-demon she took a cup from him. Her lips sipped into the mucus-colored liquid. She was possibly the only living being brave enough to drink Legion's tea, and actually enjoy it. It smelled of moldy seaweed and tasted like rotten pumpkins. Just how the demon brewed it.
"We have scavengers of our own, I'm afraid." Ariel said. She explained to the devil's royal advisor about the attacks on Paradise. How they had been orchastrated by the Fallen. The Council had a theory of who was the mastermind behind this attack, and who had sent them all free. It was likely the mysterious master that Mike informed the Council of when Abbodon spoke of him.
Legion six eyes looked concerned. "Could this mean-"
"Yes," she finished for him. "Our old adversary, the First of the Fallen, may yet still live. After all this time."
"He certainly isn't the first to elude death."
"Present company included?"
Legion darted her with those six eyes, and Ariel could tell. He wasn't one for humor. "I can inform Lord Lucifer to keep an eye out for any of these Fallen for you," the ancient sorcerer told her.
"It would be very appreciated. Thank you."
Legion lifted his scarf up and sipped into his own cup. "And how are Michael and Lucifer's children?" Ariel glanced at him, surprised that he would know such information. "When one lurks in the shadows, they cannot help but easedrop on a few conversations." he explained.
"They are fine," the archangel answered. "Safely at home with their parents."
"But something else worries you."
Ariel nodded. "Michael's message from the Creator. The possibility of Baracrus' return."
"Are you certain it was from Him?" Legion asked, stirring his tea with one of his fingers.
"I'm not sure. But he may be right."
The royal adviser glanced up. "You've seen something?" he asked again.
The archangel moved to her wide window, gazing out with her covered eyes. "A great fire. A black fire." she said. "It started in the Inferno. Then it spread to Earth, and then the Heavens followed. In that fire, I felt it. A cold embrace. Dark eyes pierced through the smoke and the flames. His eyes. They are the eyes of a monster." More and more she remembered the vision. Legion asked how long ago she foresaw it. A month was her answer. It was a secret she kept from the rest of her councilmen. Her hands tremored slightly when she thought back to the deceased demon conqueror, and what he had done to her people and home.
Legion sensed his friend's fear. "We have taken every precaution. There is no possible way Baracrus can return." He wasn't trying to convince her. More of trying to convince himself of this. But he knew that the archangel's foresight ability was accurate most of the time.
"Regardless, we must be prepared. Should Baracrus return, not even the Creator would can stop him."
"And you believe Michael's theory? An alliance between angels and demons. Together to stop Baracrus? There have been no attempts like this before."
Ariel looked back. "There's you and me." she joked. Her ears heard Legion chuckle. Only she could make this old grouch laugh. "The humans could help. They have always served as the balance between our worlds. They may be the key to stopping this evil. This Gravely family in particular. They may be the ones to unite the universe as a whole."
"Then perhaps the only action we can take in this moment is allow the wheels of fate to turn." Legion said.
Ariel agreed. "Then while they turn..." the archangel directed Legion's attention to a small table, where a chess board waited to be played.
"I assume you'll pick white as always?" Legion asked, interested in a game or two.
"Only because you take black as always, my old friend." Ariel said.
Legion lingered over to the other side of the table and sat down. No chair was needed for him, with his fat abdomen cushioning as a seat instead. The large spider legs crossed each other and rested. Ariel made her way to the opposite across him.
White goes first. Ariel moved her pawn.
Black was next. Legion moved his. The game had begun.