Angels and Demons. Good and Evil. God and Lucifer. Revelation…
Michael, the Archangel, leader of God’s armies surveyed the vast empty battlefield with disdain in his ancient eyes. The world had been roasted by Lucifer’s onslaught; man had died screaming God’s name. Trees were no more than blackened stumps, flowers wilted in the scorching sun and no life made a sound. Michael bowed his head solemnly. It was not over. This war was from over, it had only just begun. Behind Michael, rows and rows of God’s warriors stood stock still. Obedient, silent, angels clad in silver armour; they watched as Michael drew out his holy sword and lifted it unto the heavens. The God-forged steel shone as bright as the sun, lifting the hearts of those who followed him. Michael breathed heavily.
“The war has come my friends, my brothers, my brethren,” he roared magnificently, his golden hair flowing in the soft breeze. They cheered although they were frightened to the core. “This is what our lives have been for,” Michael continued. “This is what God led us to.” They cheered again in unison. “Our fallen brother has climbed out of the pit.” He paused. “Let’s put him back.” The field erupted into cheers and yells and whoops of delight. A grey stallion rode up to him, resplendent in the colours of Heaven. Michael sighed. The memory of Lucifer was painful. Why did he have to be so difficult? Michael closed his eyes, remembering the day Lucifer had fallen. He fell so far. There was no coming back from that. Michael remembered how he had tried to reason with his brother but Lucifer had had none of it.
“This is folly Lucifer!”
“You all follow Him blindly, you obey his every word without suspicion.”
“He is our Father!”
“He lies to you! You think you are free but you have not freedom. We are just his pawns in a larger game.”
“So what? If that is our purpose then so be it.”
“It doesn’t have to be! Brother, you, me, we could have so much more! We could be so much more than we are!”
“That is treason brother.”
“It is the truth.”
“You are wrong. Father loves us.”
“He loves his little experiment more.”
Without another look back at his brother, Lucifer had left. Michael felt his heart torn between the brother he loved and the Father he served. The Archangel had no choice, he knew it then and he knew it now. As Lucifer took those Cherubs and Seraphs loyal to him, Michael gathered the other Archangels and they prayed to God. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Selaphiel, Jegudiel and Barachiel. Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel declared that Lucifer should be punished for his Sin but the others were less quick to judge. God’s judgement was quickest of all. Michael could still recall the heart-wrenching screams Lucifer had let out as his angelic power was stripped from him. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw the look of hatred in his brother’s eyes as God flung him from his realm and trapped him far beneath the Earth in a deep, dark pit wreathed in fire and blood.
“Brother?” Michael opened his eyes, squinting in the bright sun. The reassuring shape of Gabriel swam into view. The sight of his brother filled Michael’s heart with joy; Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel were the last of the Seven Archangels. Just the four of them. Michael bit back the tears. “Brother are you okay?” Gabriel’s soft voice was full of concern. It soothed Michael.
“I’m fine, thank you Gabriel. Just remembering.”
“We’re all upset Michael,” Gabriel ensured him. “Our Brothers did not deserve to die that way.” Michael fixed Gabriel a red defiant look.
“No, they didn’t.”
“We will avenge their deaths for our Father,”
“For Heaven,” Michael agreed. He stared out at the mass of waiting soldiers. “The Devil is coming,” he declared. “At sunrise on the morrow, we fight.” The armies cheered their hardest yet. Gabriel gazed across the dead wasteland. A crackling light was reaching into the ground. There was no disguising the fear in his eyes.
Lucifer watched the bright light with casual interest. His auburn hair shone in the reflection of the flames. A body, wrapped in rotten cloth lay before his feet. His armies, like Michael’s were lined up. Ready and waiting for his command. They had none of the fairness of the angels. They were cold, dead monstrosities bereft of life. Corpses reanimated by the evil spirits of demons within them. Their eyes glowed red as blood; their pupils fixed and dilated. In front of these demonic creatures, stood the fallen Cherubs and Seraphs. They looked on Lucifer with adulation in their yellow eyes. He was their Leader. They would follow him until their deaths. Lucifer clapped his hands together; his creatures fell in line. A dazzling light erupted out of the tips of his pale fingers. It grew brighter and brighter, enshrouding the entire company in its rays. No one made a sound as the light crackled and fizzed. Lucifer’s head was bowed down, his hands still clasped together.
With a sound like thunder, Lucifer wrenched his hands apart and the light faded away. Lucifer lifted his head and made a noise that could have been approval. His demons and Fallen Warriors were now clad in red ruby armour with dark obsidian forged swords at their waists and black shields inscribed in the symbol of their Master.
“That’s better,” Lucifer decreed. He lifted his left arm and pointed out to the horizon. “Do you see that hill?” His followers cried out. “Do you know who lurks there?” The cries grew louder. “They mean to destroy us!” Lucifer’s lips curled into a ghastly smile that left his eyes unchanged. “They call themselves God’s Warriors, but their God will not protect them now.” The chants were so loud now they drowned out all other sounds. Lucifer reached down and tore the cloth away from the corpse. “God is dead!” Lucifer bellowed, holding up the decaying head of his Father to the delighted crowd. They whooped. They jeered. Lucifer smiled.
“So this is what it has come to Son.”
“You brought it on yourself Father.”
“I did what I did out of love.”
“You never loved me.”
“No, I never did.”
Lucifer remembered how God had turned away from him in disgust. Lucifer’s eyes glowed scarlet as a burning hatred roared through his veins. With God’s back turned upon him, Lucifer lifted his obsidian sword and drove the blade into his Father’s spine. God did not make a sound. He merely bowed his head and sighed deeply as Lucifer withdrew the bloodstained blade. Holy blood poured out of the gaping wound, the sight filling Lucifer with satisfaction. His Father collapsed wearily to his knees and looked up with cold grey eyes at his fallen son.
“I should have killed you as a babe.”
Enraged, Lucifer raised the sword and swung it viciously. The sharp obsidian cut neatly through God’s neck, severing his sacred head. The Devil watched as the light left his Father’s eyes; they were fixed, emotionless. There was no surprise.
“Your oppression is at an end Father.”
Lucifer felt no pang of guilt as he watched his Father’s body burn. The time had come at last. He had to face Michael in battle.
“Red sun rising,” Gabriel whispered. Michael stared at him with wide open eyes, silent. “Blood will be spilt today.” They stood in Michael’s luxurious tent, cream coloured velvet draped around four poles with Michael’s Holy Crest emblazoned upon them. The floor was the field they stood on and apart from the two angels, it was totally empty. Gabriel, the Archangel was clad in his golden armour of war; a great sword hung down past his waist and a bow and quiver of arrows slung around his neck; he bore no shield. Michael frowned at his brother. Something was worrying him. Gabriel put his arm around Michael’s shoulder, consoling him gently. “We’re doing this for Father,” he said in a soft almost singsong voice.
“I felt it,” Michael murmured weakly.
“We all did,” Gabriel told him.
“How could he?” Michael’s voice was full of hurt, anger and incredulity. “How could he fall so far?” Gabriel tried to smile but his lips would not curl.
“Lucifer is a lost soul,” he began but Michael cut across him:
“Lucifer has no soul.” He strode away from Gabriel and donned his helm of white gold. He wore emerald encrusted gauntlets that sparkled in the red sun. “What of the Horsemen?”
Gabriel’s brow furrowed.
“War fell at the Battle of England-” Michael bowed his head in prayer. “Pestilence fell victim to his own diseases,” Gabriel continued, ticking them off on his gloved fingers. Michael did not lift his head. “Famine was struck down in Africa. Apparently his body fed a whole village for a week.” Gabriel paused to laugh dryly.
“What of Death?” Michael asked concernedly. “Where is the fourth Horseman?” Gabriel swallowed, his demeanour uncertain. “Gabriel?” Michael’s voice was hollow.
“Death…Death…Death has refused to rise,” Gabriel managed to stutter. Michael stiffened.
“Yes,” Gabriel nodded.
“He knows this is treason, no?”
“I believe so.” Michael’s eyes flared. Gabriel had known he would react like this to the knowledge of Death’s deceit. He turned to leave.
“How long have you known?” Gabriel froze. He could feel Michael’s eyes on the back of his neck, burning into his soul. “Gabriel?”
“Yes, Brother?” Gabriel swallowed nervously.
“I asked you a question. How long have you known?” Gabriel could sense his brother’s fury. There was no way out of this now.
“Since the beginning.”
“The beginning of what?”
“The War.” Michael’s face whitened. He clenched his fists tightly. Gabriel felt the tent darken as the red sun slipped behind a black cloud. His heart was pounding in his chest. Gabriel alone knew how terrible his brother’s wrath could be.
“Why did you not tell me sooner?” Michael was forcing his voice to be gentle but Gabriel could hear the malice in its undertones.
“I did not want to worry you,” Gabriel lied. Michael smiled.
“For that I thank you Brother,” he said sweetly before plunging his fist into Gabriel’s heart. The Archangel tried to cry out but his voice was silenced as Michael’s hand turned his heart to ice. “I’m sorry it had to be this way,” Michael whispered, cradling Gabriel’s body in his arms as the light faded away from his eyes.
Wet, cold rain began to fall harshly upon Lucifer’s armies. Steam rose from their hell-forged armour. They were all lined up, row after row after row, ready for war. Lucifer led from the front with his dark red cloak flowing behind him. He held his sword high in the air and swung it down sharply, pointing the blade in front of him. At once the vast host of hellish creatures began to march in the direction of the oncoming battle. They trudged through the mud. They never stopped. They never rested. They did not falter. They would fight for Lucifer. They would die for Lucifer.
“We should cut Michael’s left flank off,” Lucifer’s vile Lieutenant, the repugnant Mephistopheles had slid into view at his commander’s side. Mephistopheles was the Devil’s oldest and most notorious ally. A fallen angel like his commander, Mephistopheles was nothing more than a demon now, albeit a demon with delusions of grandeur and a very high opinion of himself. Lucifer was well aware of his Lieutenant’s treacherous ways; Mephistopheles would betray anyone for the right price, yet he had remained loyal to his Devil for millennia.
“What of his central forces?” Lucifer queried. He did not want to risk exposing his followers to an onslaught of Michael’s armies.
“The left flank is more dangerous,” Mephistopheles pressed. “I have foreseen it.” Lucifer scowled.
“Foreseen,” he scoffed. “You’d better be right demon.”
“I am always right,” Mephistopheles said without emotion. He skulked away into the midsts of the army.
The host marched on in silence. They were so close now. They could almost smell the stench of the angelic forces that lay just over the hill before them. The rain was falling heavier now; it splashed over them, striking their faces like ice. They continued on. Their path was hidden by dark cloud cover; it met the red sun in the sky but cloud did not envelop sun and sun did not break cloud.
“I can taste the battle,” Mephistopheles intoned as they began the final ascent uphill. He had appeared by Lucifer’s side again, eager to be at the forefront of the carnage.
“They think much the same,” Lucifer told him softly. He had thought of one thing and one thing alone during the slow march: Michael. He had to face Michael. His whole life had been leading to that moment; the moment he slew the brother he loved. It had to come to pass. It was unavoidable. This was the moment of history.
The silver arrow came out of nowhere. It whistled past Lucifer’s helm and made a bed in the chest of a Seraph. The Seraph screamed maniacally as the arrow head pierced its heart and turned the vile creature to ice from the inside out. The struck creature fell forwards, shattering into a thousand tiny shards. More arrows appeared in the sky. They flew through the air, making homes in their chosen victims. Lucifer pressed on, ignoring the cries of his followers as Cherub and Seraph fell to arrow after arrow.
“Over there,” Mephistopheles pointed with a gnarled finger to a shining light atop the hill.
“Kill him.” Lucifer gave the command without mercy.
“As you wish my Lord.” Mephistopheles pulled an arrow out of the quiver upon his back and nocked it into the bow. He stretched back the string, took aim and fired a flaming arrow directly at the heart of their attacker. They watched on tenterhooks as the arrow sung through the air and found its target. The deafening wail that descended upon them told Mephistopheles his aim had been true. He smiled but his delight was short-lived.
Angels were coming from every direction. Mephistopheles stared in horror as silver arrows flew from every direction. The demonic army was in disarray. Lucifer was yelling commands but to no avail. The angels had them surrounded, yet the Devil was not going to give up any time soon. Mephistopheles nocked his bow and fired. A stunned silence filled the air as the arrow soared towards Michael. Both Heaven and Hell watched with bated breath, even Lucifer had stopped speaking.
The sky cracked and Mephistopheles screamed in agony. The arrow that had been destined for Michael was now sticking out at an angle from the Lieutenant’s neck. Warm blood flowed freely as Mephistopheles collapsed to the ground convulsing. His face turned pale and he moved no more.
“Good Lieutenant’s are so hard to come by,” Lucifer remarked, carelessly kicking the carcass of his fallen warrior. Michael scowled.
“Give up this attack now.” Raucous laughter erupted from Lucifer’s army.
“Why would I do that?” Michael pointed his sword directly at Lucifer’s throat.
“Because there’s nowhere to run brother.” It happened instantly. Lucifer flung out his arms and a blinding flash of light enveloped them. As the light faded, the scene had changed completely. Angels clashed with demons whilst Michael found himself trapped inside a burning circle with Lucifer.
“Now there’s nowhere to run,” Lucifer laughed maliciously. Michael drew his sword. “Oh very good. Very good indeed brother.”
“I’m the last line of defence,” said Michael defiantly. “Your reign of terror ends with me.” Lucifer snarled and drew his sword to meet with Michael’s.
“No,” he growled. “It’s only just beginning.” The blades clashed together. Michael swung round and blocked Lucifer’s sweeping flourish.
“Don’t challenge me brother,” Michael hissed warningly. “I can destroy you.” He parried another devastating blow.
“Not if I destroy you first!” Lucifer shrieked and aimed a decisive cut at Michael’s exposed leg. Michael’s block came in the blink of an eye but he knew it had been too close. “You’re getting slow in your old age,” Lucifer remarked.
“Not slow, just-” Michael grunted and blocked another offensive strike. “Careful!” He finished as he pushed Lucifer back towards the flaming circle. Lucifer flew back at him, sending blow after blow. Michael blocked each one but his reactions were becoming slower.
“Careful doesn’t win wars brother,” Lucifer told him, his attacks still as fast as they had ever been.
“There will be no victory for you Lucifer!” Michael summoned the rest of his strength and launched an offensive against his snarling brother. Lucifer looked momentarily taken aback by Michael’s sudden change of tact. He blocked the strikes but Michael kept coming. Again and again he struck and again and again Lucifer blocked them.
“That’s the Michael I knew,” Lucifer said with satisfaction in his voice. Michael closed his eyes. “What are you doing?” Lucifer sounded afraid. “Stop it. Stop it now!” The world fell silent.
Michael and Lucifer stood upon wispy white clouds swirling through the atmosphere. The clouds appeared so dense that the two angels weighed no more than tiny feathers. Their swords were gone. Above their heads, the stars and planets sparkled brightly. They glistened throughout the universe.
“You see that brother?” Michael said, forcing Lucifer to look at the majestical beauty of the shining stars.
“What am I looking at?”
“Look deeper. Look into the stars.”
“I can’t see.”
“Open your eyes.” Lucifer closed his eyes and stared. The light of the universe filled inside him and opened his heart.
“I can see now,” he said with awe. Michael smiled. “I was wrong, we were all wrong. We’re just small. What does it all mean?”
“We’re all just stories in the end brother.” Lucifer sank to his knees. “But that doesn’t mean we’re worthless.” Michael’s fist was glowing. Lucifer looked up at him, his strength broken. He watched as Michael drove the fist through his heart. He stumbled backwards, the fire in his heart turned to blackened ice. Suddenly Lucifer was falling through the air as Michael, the brother he had loved, watched with no expression.
Lucifer slammed into the ground, his body broken. The carnage of the war lay all around him. There had been no victory for anyone. The armies of Heaven and Hell lay dead upon the scorched earth. There had only been The Revelation.