And then, even through Lucifer's rebellion against the face of God, and my joining his banner, I soared, for it was the only thing I had known. I flew like the Lord of the Wind, like the birds that my claws emulated, like the very air which is eternally restless.
I recall the very first fear I've known, on the Plains of Ghuribla, darting forward faster than anything the world had ever known. There had been a plan, a strategy to make the Abelites loyal to God join the Lightbringer in his rebellion. In the scourging fire of the Malhim had the Fallen fell, a trap so deviously plotted by the Lord God's hunters. One moment, the tribes were assembled and my Asharu brothers and sisters had revealed themselves, asking the humans to hear them out. The next moment, blue flames rocketed from the skies to destroy them.
And the humans had paid with their lives. Ten times ten times ten humans had been used as bait, and so very few left the battlefield. And even fewer of my kin. So I flew forward, with the air screeching my arrival, to help those who were dearest to me, and to assist my House in the conflict.
I saw the scorched earth beneath me, and I wept for the souls the Seventh House had to claim and bring to their final reward for it. I circled and to my dismay, I saw the Malhims. They were the Fierce Flame, the Crown of Conquest and the Shadow over the Dead. The Malhims known as Huyul, Kikrohiy and Di'iaj, who were known for their relentless pursuit of the Fallen. The Mad Three Hunters, as Belial himself called them, and they were not known for their mercy.
Hovering far over them, I bellowed a challenge to the Crown of Conquest, Kikrohiy, and she turned to me with bestly eyes and a snarl. With a wave of her hands, she sent hordes of birds of prey to hound me, but the protective winds about me threw them to the ground. Having bought some relief for my comrades, I decided to join the fray. I wrapped my wings about me and proceed to fall in the heart of the battle.
And I fell. I fell forever. Up to the moment Kikrohiy came up to receive me, like an angry mother wishing to scold her child. But as she reached out to catch my falling celestial body, my wings unfurled, revealing the deadly thorns covering my back and arms, and my body crashed into hers, tearing divinely created flesh and bone. The fur on her arms became stained by the splash of her unnatural blood and she wailed a cry that silenced predators a thousand miles around. Seconds later, she was crashing to the ground heavily, her wings and spirits broken, and her will subdued. But I was not to touch the ground yet, and with a mighty flap of my wings, I soared back up to the sanctity of my home, the all-seeing sky, to watch my companions' struggle.
I saw the remaining Fallen, four of them, torn to pieces by the Fierce Flame and the Shadow over the Dead. I saw their bodies rent to pieces amidst the bodies of murdered humans. I saw, with my eagle's eyes, their passion snuffed out of existence. I saw the Malhims turn to their wounded comrade, not even minding the killing of their cousins. I saw my brothers and sister's bodies fade from existence, turning to flesh or stone or a swift wind. I saw, rather then felt, their sorrow at their failure.
And at that moment, for the very first time of my existence, I felt rage. I felt oppression. I felt the pressing of the Lord's dictature on those who would defy His Holy Word. And I did not contain it. And the anger rose in me for the first time as I saw the Lord's Hosts take viciously on one another.
Then the sky split apart, and the Malhims were gone, just like that.
And I fell out of the sky. Wingless, I pummeled toward the ground, but the very air that was me and mine stopped me as I touched the earth unharmed. Astonished, I tilted my head up, looking at the sky which had rejected me. And I saw.
And I stared. And I quaked. And I feared for the very first time since my coming into Creation.
The sky had really split in half by the glory of the apparition that came into being. Fire sent the clouds away in fear and thunder shook the blue light of the firmament. Four wings stretched across my sight into infinity, and a form as graceful as a midsummer's breeze and as fierce as a raging tornado wore them proudy. It was a God's gift to the sky that humbled me, for the being was none other than Mentor and Nurturer to my House, now enemy to me and mine. He was one of the Lord's Seraphim, and he commanded a full third of the Heavenly Host of the Sky loyal to the One Above.
He was the Seraphim Nûr, Lord of Rolling Clouds Graced by Lightning, and as he flew down to the Earthly skies, I could see him voice words for me...
Then I wake up in a sweat. It was a dream. It was but a stupid dream. But it felt so real because, simply, it was reality back then.
I, Valariel, survived an encounter with the Seraphim Nûr.
I tear myself from the blankets wrapped around me and get up in a weird fashion, fumbling about for a light. The bedside lamp I turn on and instantly, I'm blinded. This is ridiculous. What time is it?
I look at the alarm clock. It is 5:16. I wish that would tell me something concrete about the Plan, but alas, I'll have to make do with that. So I might as well get up.
My mind drifts easily in this body. I prepare the stimulant coffee to help shake off the sleep in my host's eyes, and I walk to the bay window looming over Manhattan The percolator chokes into life, and I wonder... I only fully remember details of my life as a Elohim during sleep. Like this night.
I have never forgotten Nür appearance to me. A single Fallen could not have survived him if so he chose. That was the lot of the Seraphim, that only the Archdukes and the Lightbringer Himself could stand up to them. Yet, I survived, and even though the Fiends know of it and pried the skies and the stars for an answer, they never told them. The secret of the encounter is mine to keep forever.
I have noticed that I have a very good memory of my past existence, much better than most other Fallen I have encountered yet... But only sleep removes the barrier that mortal life imposes on me. The ramblings of a human brain and the subdued soul of Francis Moore must interfere with a proper Elohim essence thinking back to the First Days.
A probable hypothesis... But whatever the case may be, it's getting on my nerves. As much as the low rumbling of the percolator as it's processing its black, bitter drink. I have to convince Francis his body doesn't need this... And to get back in shape. But that will have to wait another day. Today will be as busy a day as any other, maybe even more so.
Akriel and Lyriel want to track this Fallen who is reaping left and right. I can't blame them, but I thought Akriel would not want to take part actively in the hunt. Well, more fool he. I'd like to claim I have better things to do, but it seems like New York is not handing me out better stuff than Arthur Brooks to deal with, and that is not all that exhausting. As much as I would like to preserve the man, his psyche is still shook, and its workings abnormals. Such a disorder is beyond most Scourges to heal, and the healing gift hasn't come back to me as of yet. I think the problem stems from Faith and the current era.
Which reminds me, I should visit my 'group' soon. It has been a while I have done some decent research on the subject. And psychology is not so far from faith, when you have to toy with one to provoke the other...
Steel electrified fences for flesh.
Stone brick walls for bones.
Metal bars for pores.
Antennas for hair.
Human for blood.
Carter Vandermeyen walks through the hallways of the prison like a parasite moving through a body. His mind drifting, aware of every thought in every human mind around him, he opens himself to the madness that surrounds him. A madness, collective or not, that forced these humans to this establishment to repent for their crimes, whether they were justified, excusable or not, against their own kind.
Parasite. Bodies. Madness. The choice of words is not at all a coincidence for Carter Vandermeyen, for he is not wholly human. And not at all sane either.
Carter Vandermeyen is a spawn of the First Murderer, Caine, child to Adam and Eve, though Carter is not that old. Passed through the blood, he received the gift and curse a quite few decades years ago. That, and other things, makes him what his brethren have mokingly called the Kindred. A vampire of legend. Though like all vampires of legend, aside from the usual banes of fire and sunlight, and the urge to feed on mortals' blood, Carter is cursed with a primal flaw, a weakness of his lineage that his own progenitor passed him.
And in his blood is the seed of madness. Though potent, and allowing him feats of unsurpassed physical prowess thanks to his preternatural physique, the madness eating him from inside made him fade in and out of reality. At least, in his mind. And even though he could fool humans into obeying, following or ignoring him completely, and to reach out to the world with otherworldly senses, his potent power could not keep him from going into a mind-numbed state that caught him at times ungarded. Such was his curse. And such was the ailment he was trying to fight at the moment.
Carter had been a successful lawyer in life, and saw an excellent career tumble down when he was brought into the night. Even though his profession had been to keep criminals in the mainstreet and keeping them from going to prison, he did not always succeed, and thus he had to visit the other side of the steel curtain once in a while with a client. With the power of the vampiric blood in him, he had to abandon the courtroom, but he could connect to the prisons. And thus, with hypnosis, mental domination and inside knowledge, Carter had friends that gave him total reign over a single maximum-security prison in the Five Boroughs.
The Riker Island Prison.
But recently, with the turmoil his kind has been living in the area, Carter settled to visit and etch out a permanent place of residence on Riker Island. Much to his dismay, it appears the island was already occupied. Or so he thinks. This night, after a number of days of sleep that were rather disturbing and haunted with dreams uncharacteristic to his kind, Carter awoke in a cell in the prison's west wing with no recollection of how he got there in the first place. Usually, he would chalk this up to his blood's weakness, the mind-boggling fugues that dawn on him once in a while. But this was different.
No security camera ever got sight of him. And if there was a superstition that was indeed false about vampires, it was the fact that mirrors (and cameras) did reflect their image. Also disturbing him was the stress the past days have been playing on his unstable psyche, bringing him slowing on the verge of losing his usual composure.
He needed to get back to his room soon.
And there he is, with a wristwatch telling him it was 5:16 in the morning, with the sun coming up soon, but somehow, he cannot advance faster than a steady walk. He feels it. The same presence he had felt since his arrival on the island itself to claim domain. It was akin to dimmed light in a swimming pool, coming from one source, but refracting everywhere, visible from all points, unable to pinpoint it. Like pressure in a water balloon, or a flight of crows taking off in the middle of a forest, its noise bouncing on every tree and rock and leave, like a ping-pong ball moving up and down between the ground and the canopy.
He is walking steadily, one foot in front on another, hiding himself from the inmates with the power of his mind, racing slowly against the eventual coming of the day, and probing for a presence he fears would be looking out for him.
He had heard, like all others of his age, of the older ones... The elders amongst themselves, and the immesureable power they wielded. The thought of crossing one on its domain was enough to send newly-created Kindred scurrying away in abject fear, and older ones like himself regret their unthinking action, for such creatures did not take ignorance as an excuse.
Carter's train of thoughts is broken by a low rumbling of the cement under his feet and the wanking open of a cell door ahead. He stops and looks over with his sharpened sense. The cell look like any other cell, with a remote locking mechanism, solid steel bars, a desk, and two pallets for inmates to sleep upon. But something is not quite right. The steel is unmarked by any scratch, the lock does not bear the mark of usage, the desk is freshly varnished wood. Like brand new. All of the cell.
And a creeping dakness oozes out of it. Looking around, Carter realizes this is an illusion greater than life, for the cell is not part of a wall.
It is set directly in a wall.
He sees the darkness flow out of the cell and drift upward, all by itself, to the skylight. Unthinking, drowsy and confused, Carter follows it with his eyes. And he sees the day come up for a second, until a single ray of light burns one of his eyes to ash in its socket. Crying out in deathly fear and unbearable pain, Carter slumps over, hiding his face in his hands, he hopes for a prisoner, a guard, someone, anyone to help him, but his cries fall on deaf ears, for he stands alone in the hallway.
Time had leapt forward in the meanwhile, leaving him standing unseen in the crowded hallway scant minutes before the dawn's break.
Overtaken by his instinctual fear of the sun's light, on the verge of an irrational frenzy of terror, Carter feels toward his last seen place of refuge.
The cell filled in darkness.
He throw himself in, wishing the darkness would engulf him, and it did. He was away from the sunlight, and he was cold, but he knew he was safe.
The cell door closed all by itself, and the ground rumbled once more, with the same staccato as a dry laugh fading in and out. Somewhere in the prison, an inmate would cltuch at his chest in pain, and another would slip into uncounsciousness while doing laundry.
And then all would be quiet again.
"Excuse me, sir, what would be the name of this man again?"
"Arthur Brooks", I repeat. "He was taken in three weeks ago."
"I'll check it up again, sir. This should only take a moment."
I'm Valariel, I'm fully awake, I have a job to do, and this freshly-minted desk officer here is pissing me off. Nevermind the fact that I have an upset stomach from the coffee and that I haven't fully understod the intricacies of cooking with a microwave oven, I have this tingling sensation that for a second, Francis Moore and I will truly be as one and punch the living crap out of this kid in a blue officier's suit. How difficult can it be to figure it out?
A-R-T-H-U-R B-R-O-O-K-S, and then press enter. Come on kid, you can pull it off...
"You may be seated sir, I'll come fetch you when I have the full details."
That's it. He's going to get it. Nevertheless, I know all that is wishful thinking on my part, and I grab a seat. I watch people go around in the police station. Officers, detectives, the dispatcher at the back, Rosanne Kochek, the secretary of Detective O'Flanagan, and a horde of men, women and children, coming and going for the sake of justice. These humans used to police themselves, but now they have to police amongst themselves. Notice the difference. A primordial difference.
All in all, it means, 'something went badly wrong because we Fallen lost'.
Oh, great. I'm being invoqued here. I grab a magazine that laying around. Ironically, I pick up Law and Order. Not a bad enough TV show as it is, I have to hold a copy of this piece of paper with 'morality' printed all over it.
"Who calls me", I answer in the Enochian language. People around will think I'm talking to myself. Oh well.
Valariel, it is I, Naho Seqil.
"I am pleased by your calling of me, Sire. How may I serve you, Fell Knight?" I wish I could do without the flattering...
Please, there is no such need for formalities now, my dear. A Fallen after my own heart.
I am attending a conclave of my faction. We seem to have found a rather interesting proposition for you concerning our recent troubles.
What is this, 'piss off the Scourge' day? "What would that be?"
It is not mine to tell you. I can only tell you that it is a matter that will assurely interest you in a most personal way. Probably even more than any other Fallen, in fact. I cannot be sure if you'd be delighted with this fact or not, but alas, that is the best I can do. You can only come yourself and have them tell you.
I'm hesitant, but I might as well go with it. "Very well. What will be the location of this reunion?"
Come to the corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway in three hours. We will be waiting.
"An open enough space. I accept."
I block out whatever he may have left to tell me. I'm far too trusting. That will be the death of me, I'm sure. I think I can blame Francis Moore's influence for this. He's always have this savior routine thing going on. He just cracked when he saw he couldn't save everyone, himself included. More fool he. Had he ever walked a mile in my shoes, he would've known you can't expect to save half the people you'll meet in your life. Even if it is your sacred duty.
While chasing ghosts in my head, I find I have enough room to consider that I still think it funny to refer to Naho Seqil as 'he' when I can only think of that Carmelia 'she'. I hope this meeting will be worth my time, especially with the cold coming over in November.
"Mister Moore", the boy calls me. Good. "I have the information you were seeking, but alas, it seems it will be more difficult to have an interview with Mister Brooks now."
"What do you mean?" I lean forward. I have the distinct feeling I'm not going to like this bureaucracy thing.
"Arthur Brooks has been transferred this morning. He is no longer in this disctrict." This is going to get ugly. I ask in no uncertain terms where the fuck he is, that he is my assignation, that I have references specifically made by Detective What's-his-name in disctrict Lost-in-Hell in the Don't-give-a-rat's-ass part of town that he's mine to consult.
The boy answers, "I'm afraid there is nothing I can do. Mister Brooks has been transferred to Riker's Island's for detention."
Someone's going to get hurt. I reflexively stamp my fist on the desk in rage. A pen comes rolling down from it and gusts a note along with it. Both fall to the floor unexpectedly. The kid bends over to pick it up but misses the note. Later on, he'll fail to give it to someone and something important will be delayed, probably causing a whole lot of problems. Maybe the kid will even lose his new job.
Chaos theory my ass.
Someone's going to get hurt anyway.