Author’s Note: The start of a new volume, I hope you all enjoy, and be sure to let me know what you think!
Volume 4 – Chapter 1
Though his eyes were closed, Sariel’s vision swam with light, a swirling expanse of unearthly bright that drowned out the effectiveness of his other senses. In an effort to forget the present, he had decided to remember the past, and was stretching his focus to the outer edge of his consciousness and beyond, into the unknown reaches of thought, of time.
He traveled back, and found himself at the beginning.
To an outsider, the moment at which everything came to be may have seemed like an explosion; a superheated, rapidly occurring outward expansion of fire, particles, light, and life. Truthfully, while that view may have been correct, as Sariel sank deeper into his recollection, returning to a time when neither life nor death had yet to find a home, he would not have believed it.
After all, when he remembered–no, felt–the appearance of light, its journey to the far reaches of existence, forging a path of creation that forced its way into every nook and cranny of consciousness, possibility, he could not see it as something so violent as an explosion.
Rather, had he been forced to put the memory into words, he may have described it as a single drop of dye spreading itself out in a jar of water.
In his mind, the creation continued, a cooldown of unrivaled rapidity that, after the indescribable heat of the beginning, allowed reality to form. Without realizing why, he found himself fast forwarding through the early stages–the countless eons he had spent as all–and coming to rest within the mere millennia he had spent as one.
Originally, the angel’s entire purpose in contemplating his Lord’s most impressive triumph had been to forget, to erase the current events of his existence from his mind through recalling its origin, but he found himself abandoning that rather quickly. Eventually, his thoughts would return to the present.
And, without fail, he would remember her.
The news of Remiel’s fall still burned hot in his memory and, although he now knew it to be true, it still felt unreal, more a dream than anything else. But–as he knew all too well–angels were not permitted to dream for very long and, immediately after his moments of doubt had vanished, the cold truth of his orders would rush in to take its place.
Find Remiel, confront her and, if necessary, kill her.
It was hard for Sariel, as he weighed the implications of his orders in his mind, not to think of Remiel as he had known her, to erase from his memory the years spent at each other’s sides, working together for a time, consulting with one another forever after–at least, until she turned.
But, in keeping with his duty, those connections must be forgotten, placed to the side in favor of the balance of the opposing worlds. Remiel had made her choice, and, as a result, Sariel would be forced to act.
She had left, and in doing so created a new start. A new beginning, not just for herself, but for Sariel, as well.
The time was coming soon–the angel could feel it, deep within his chest, like iron in the forge. At any moment, he would be summoned, and sent in pursuit of his former companion. Then, she would either submit to her punishment, or face retribution.
Sariel reflected on his duty once again, the knowledge that it must be done doing little to diminish his reluctance at carrying out the act. No matter how resolute his faith, how steeled his resolve, he could not escape the memory of her voice, the shadow of her smile, nor his one, ever-present question.
And so, as he waited for his summons, for his new life to begin, he closed his eyes, taking a deep breath and thinking back to the beginning, dissolving into a world of light, relinquishing his presence to the point that he could not even hear the small, soft footsteps approaching behind him.
* * *
Thousands upon thousands of stars hung in the sky behind the figure, shimmering islands of light in a sea of black, serving as a blazing tribute to her first act of freedom in what would surely be a long, illustrious career. Aside from the natural light show above her, the world was dark, so dark that she had trouble seeing more than a few feet in front of her as she sped forward, twenty feet off of the ground, flying through the air on invisible wings.
The darkness was so absolute, it encroached even upon her thoughts, filling the space and clearing her mind of all but her current action. She loved it.
Below her, a desert stretched outwards in all directions, an alternating series of flatlands and rolling dunes riddled with long, thick lines disrupting the otherwise glassy smoothness of the desert surface. It looked, upon closer inspection, almost as if a group of giants had treaded through, dragging their enormous feet behind them.
At the image, for the first time since her escape, the figure laughed, a soft murmur that quickly transitioned into a raucous roar, rolling through her chest and exploding past her parted lips. Her head lowered, and she stared once again at the desert floor, white as bone in the surrounding darkness. Wind rushed over her, sliding through stray strands of hair, roaring past her ears.
She spread her arms wide, letting the oncoming rush of air slip between her fingers. In the onslaught of both wind and particles of sand, kicked up by her flight, she closed her eyes, cutting off her vision in an instant.
But it didn’t matter–the darkness of the desert prevented her from seeing much other than the shimmering points of light above her and, if given the choice between viewing them or nothing at all, she would be quick to choose the latter.
For now, she thought, she had dealt with heavenly bodies enough.
The air here was so much colder than that of paradise, and she felt every ounce of it as it spread through her body, biting at the edges of her ears, the ends of her fingers, the tip of her nose. She felt, and a small shiver of equal parts chill and joy swept through her.
Once again, in the unending silence of night, she laughed.
She couldn’t help it–she had spent so long in stagnation, hoping, just waiting to be given the opportunity to do something. But now, Remiel didn’t need to wait any longer. She needed no permissions. Beneath the endless expanse of a dark, silent universe, in a world full of life, she could do anything.
She flew and, finally, looked to the stars once more. They shone down on her, filled her vision until it nearly swam with light, before she was forced to look away. In the past, they would have struck her as sublime above all else and, even now, they elicited a certain sense of awe from somewhere deep within.
However, she now saw that the darkness was equal in purity to the light. It afforded the same opportunities, the same sense of wonder, and, in comparison to the shockingly short amount of time in which the light shone, blinding, before ebbing away, the darkness was constant, never wavering.
Still, in glancing at the stars, she couldn’t help but feel that Sariel would have enjoyed them, found comfort in the soft luster they displayed amidst the void.
She hadn’t meant to think about him but, in response to her single moment of error, Remiel’s mind was quickly inundated with snatches of memory, moments not so long ago but already belonging in another life.
Where was he, right now? What was he thinking?
When would she see him again?
The questions presented themselves but, not finding any answers nor feeling that she needed to, Remiel allowed them to fade away, believing that perhaps they would take the opportunity to vanish. She had made her choice, and must accept all that came with that decision.
For the sake of her freedom, she must let her old life sink below the depths of memory, chained and anchored, never to resurface.
Still, the stars shone on, an unceasing celestial radiance. Remiel lowered herself to the ground and, slowly, hazarded one last look at the brilliance, before turning her now-closed eyes to the ground, letting the afterimage fade, not noticing the tingling in her hands, nor the pounding footsteps approaching from behind.