Fallen Ch. 26byNephylim©
The door opens at a touch of my hand to a panel at its centre, and it slides soundlessly aside, revealing a gaping maw into which steps disappear, leading into darkness. I pull him into a rough embrace and kiss him hard.
"Are you sure? Are you really sure?"
"No. I'm not sure. I'm not sure about anything; but I have to, Luma, I have to." I hold him close, feeling the pounding of his heart. Mine is racing just as fast. I hate this. Well... If I have to do it, I have to do it fast or not at all.
Drawing Star across the threshold I pull him into my arms and close the door, engulfing us in darkness. Star clutches at me, scared.
"Do you trust me?" I ask softly into his ear.
"With my life," he whispers and then cries out as we step off the steps and plummet into darkness. There is a rustle in the air around us as if a flock of birds are flying past and then, a few moments later, we gently touch the ground. Star staggers and I support him until he gets his balance.
"Luma... what the...? Why did you do that? How did you do that?" The sound echoes, magnified a hundred times by what is clearly a vast space. "Where are we?" he whispers, scared of the rolling echoes.
"Ssh. Don't speak. From now on you must not speak, no matter what happens. Do you understand?"
"Yes," he whispers. It is too dark to see him nod.
Taking him by the arm I lead him carefully across an echoing stone floor. At first he is hesitant but gets more confident and follows me freely. When I stop he stands quietly.
"Wait," I say and move away from him to where I know there is a trap door in the floor of the cave. Opening it I see a small chamber in the rock about a foot square. I carefully lift out the box it contains. My heart is pounding and my hands trembling.
At the bottom of the chamber is a hand shaped depression and I lay my hand in it, pressing down with my fingertips. After a few moments I become aware of a soft glow as somewhere behind me something lights up. I pause for a moment, not wanting to see.
Finally I rise from my crouch and turn. Star is standing on the edge of a circle of light, about seven feet in diameter. Within the circle, set into the floor, is a five pointed star. Every line is made up of a band about 3 inches wide of glowing red symbols edged with lines of solid gold. It's all that remains of an ancient language; now dusty and dead, but still symbolically potent. The symbols seem to crawl across the floor generating their own light.
Beyond the circle there is nothing and the star seems to be suspended in the darkness, glowing.
Star turns to me and opens his mouth but I shake my head and he closes it again, nodding. His eyes are enormous, bright splashes of colour against the darkness.
"Take off your clothes," I say softly and he complies instantly. While he is stripping I empty the box laying its contents on the floor at the edge of the circle. There is a crystal chalice, four lengths of fine silk rope, a small leather bound book heavy with gilt, and an ornately carved and bejewelled blowing horn.
In the very corner of the box, in a pocket made especially to keep it snug and upright, is a small glass phial. The liquid it contains is of no colour and every colour, swirling, iridescent, generating its own light. It is very beautiful and very deadly.
Laying aside the book and the horn, and tucking the cords safely into my pocket, I take my knife and draw it quickly across my wrist. I hold my arm over the chalice and watch the blood flow into it until it is half full.
Pausing to seal the wound with my healing venom I place the chalice on top of the box, right at the edge of the circle. By now Star is at my shoulder, curious. I make no attempt to hide what I am doing; what's the point? Uncapping the phial I let a few drops fall into the blood. The drops lie for a few moments on top of the liquid and then they sink beneath the surface.
Gradually a glow appears at the heart of the blood and it slowly expands and brightens until it is all illuminated, as sparkling and incandescent as the liquid in the phial itself.
I leave the chalice on top of the box and quickly shuck out of my clothes. Star is watching me with wide, enchanted eyes, and when I look up into them my heart quakes. Carefully picking up the chalice I lay my hand on his shoulder and gaze deeply into his eyes.
"This is the last time you can walk away. Are you sure, Star, are you really sure?"
Star doesn't answer; perhaps he is taking me too literally about that. Still staring into my eyes he puts his hands around mine on the chalice and, almost without me realising what he's doing he raises it to his lips. For a moment there is a flash of fear in his eyes but he takes a deep breath, squeezes them closed and tips the chalice so the contents flow into his mouth.
Instantly his eyes fly wide and he seems to freeze for a moment, then swallows the liquid in a gulp and gasps.
"Sssh. No speaking, my love."
He nods his head, smiling. I stroke his cheek, watching his eyes fill will the sparkling lights. "It's too late now. There is no going back, only going forward. Whatever happens now remember that I love you and I am here with you. Hold on to this." I lean forwards and kiss him. His lips are icy cold but his hand that buries itself in my hair, and the skin under my hands, are warm and soft.
"It's time." I break contact with him. He looks confused. Already his mind is sinking under the effects of the drug. He is feeling the separation of body and spirit. When I take his hand he looks down at it with a frown on his face, trying to make sense of something that can no longer make sense to him.
Obediently he lies on the floor in the middle of the star and stares up at the darkness overhead. Taking one of the ropes from my pocket I knot it, slip it around his wrist and bind it to an iron hoop sunk into the floor in the middle of one of the arms of the star. Star watches me impassively as I repeat the process with his other wrist and both ankles. He is now securely bound hand and foot and there is no escape... there hasn't been from the moment the poison touched his lips.
I kneel between his legs and gaze down at his beautiful face. The somewhat vacant blue eyes gaze back and he smiles dreamily. "Oh Star." I close my eyes and dash away the tears that slide down my cheeks.
Part of me wants to take my time, to savour the moments, the last moments with the man I love. This is the last time I will ever touch the Star he is now, the last time I will ever look into his eyes, that last time I will kiss his lips, the last time... Even if he survives the ritual he will come out of it as someone else; someone who is the same but very, very different.
But the bigger part of me just wants to get this over with. I want to know one way or another and if the whole purpose of this is to save Bridge then I want the ritual done in time to do that.
Running my hands over his stomach I watch the sensations it evokes send him spinning. It doesn't take much in this state to overload his senses. He is hardly 'here' at all; not Star; not the part of him that makes him who he is. Already the poison is breaking down this body, it is disintegrating from the inside and when I release my seed inside him this body will die. It's what happens to the rest of him that makes all the difference.
Star moans as I run my hands over his body. Small whimpers bubble from his lips and for a short while he struggles weakly against his bonds. The slightest brush of my fingers over his balls stops the struggling though, it takes away his ability to formulate thought and he stills. For a moment I close my eyes. I don't want to see him sink; I don't want to see that look; that moment when he loses himself; when his light goes out. When I open my eyes it has passed.
I can't do this. Biting my lip I somewhat roughly raise his hips and penetrate him. He cries out, his body shuddering and a look of discomfort comes over his face. He tries to pull away but of course he can't. He doesn't know it's me anymore. He doesn't know what's happening, he just knows that it really doesn't feel very good.
By now the poison is turning his blood to fire and the pain is increasing rapidly. The moans that are pouring from him are not because of any pleasure he is getting from my fucking... there is no pleasure, there is only pain.
Fortunately I completely focussed in the ritual and I have very good control of my body so that I am able to bring myself to climax without any desire and with my mind screaming every step of the way. Star gets more and more agitated through the process and throws his head and body from side to side moaning as if in the grip of a raging fever. I hold back my ejaculation as long as I can because I know what will happen when it comes, but eventually it is just too cruel to prolong his suffering anymore.
As soon as I release I withdraw, rising to my feet and for a moment turning away from his screams. I pick up the book and fix my eyes on the page as I begin to speak the words that are written there. As I speak, the symbols on the star begin to glow more brightly and move more swiftly.
I try not to look at Star's body as it convulses and strains against the bonds. The flesh on his wrists and ankles beneath the silk rope is torn and bleeding and there is blood trickling from his mouth where he has bitten his tongue. He's completely lost control of his body and I don't even want to think about that.
As much as I try to keep my eyes away from Star the rest of my senses are not so easily distracted and, in particular I can hear the thuds, groans and screams. They become inhuman. He is not my Star anymore. He is a creature that is mindless, stinking, dying. He is nothing. And maybe that is the way he will remain.
The chanting begins to have an effect on Star. The convulsing ends and he whimpers pathetically, weeping and gasping as his life ebbs. He doesn't know where he is or who he is or even what he is but he knows he is hurting and he knows he is dying. He's afraid now and I want to go to him, I want to sooth him but I can't. If I stop chanting he will be torn apart by the energies I am summoning in the symbols than surround him.
Star is begging now. He's not begging me; or anyone in particular. He is just begging the ethers for release. "Please... please... oh no, no noooo... please, please."
There are tears pouring down my face but I have to keep my voice level; my mind clear. The energies are whipping around him, licking at his body and if I let them go now...
Slowly the spell unfolds and the energies unleashed by it are brought under control. It seems to be taking such a long time. Why is it taking such a long time?
It is with enormous relief that I reach the last page but when I reach the end there is real regret because now I have to look at him.
I put down the book and pick up the horn. I raise it to my lips but make the mistake of looking at Star and I choke. The strength has drained from him and his body has collapsed and is hardly moving at all, although the tremors and weak attempts at writhing away from the pain are pathetic and heart rending. His eyes are open and look as if he is staring into hell. His mouth is gaping open and little moans slip out with the harsh, panting breaths, which are already getting strained and sound painful.
This Star seems like just an empty, swollen, misshapen lump of clay and I can't see anything of the man I love in him now, except for the eyes. He's gone. My Star is gone and I killed him.
No. He is not gone and he is not dead, not yet but if I delay any longer he will be gone and it will be my fault. Taking a deep breath I blow the horn. There is no sound, none that can be heard with the ear but it causes reality to ripple.
Apart from the strange ripple nothing seems to have happened after the sounding of the horn. I throw it to the ground and the sound seems incredibly loud in the silence. With nothing to do, I so badly want to go to Star and take him in my arms. He is weeping uncontrollably, snot and tears flowing down his face and into his hair, choking him so that every other sob is a wet cough.
"Hold on Star. Please hold on. It won't be much longer. It will be over soon I promise. I'm here. Never forget that. You're not alone; I'm here."
The sound of slow clapping startles me and my eyes snap up as a figure appears, stepping out of the darkness on the other side of the circle. Dressed all in black with curly black hair falling to below his shoulders he is a striking figure, even without the two jet black wings that spread gracefully from his shoulders, arching over his head.
"Please Azra'el, don't waste time with your usual crap. You're better than me; stronger, faster, wiser; more beautiful, stylish and powerful. I am a mere insignificant worm about to be crushed under the sole of your foot and I am completely unworthy of your attention. There, I've said it for you; now please just get on with it."
Azra'el grins at me. "My, my... I never thought I would ever hear those words coming from your mouth. You were never one for facing the truth." He steps across the circle and crouches next to Star, brushing the sodden hair out of his face, and strokes his heaving chest. "You get so involved with your children, Luma, which is probably why you have so few and why they find it so easy to turn against you. Will this one stab you in the back? Or will he run from you and take your heart with him?
"He is very pretty. VERY pretty. In fact I think he is the most beautiful human I have ever seen." He caresses Star's face gently as Star forces his eyes open to stare dully at him. "Are you frightened pretty one? Do you feel death's hand around your heart? Do you despair? Is the pain excruciating?" He is smiling, his lips curving over his sharp teeth and I see the fear he is provoking in my lover.
"Leave him alone Azra'el. Just do your job and get out of here."
"What 'job' is that, Lumin'el?" He sneers, still stroking Star's chest, holding his eyes in an unbreakable gaze.
"You know what is expected of you, Azra'el; just do it and leave."
"But what if I don't choose to do it? What if I decide to let this pretty little thing fall back onto the wheel and leave you alone again to eke out your pathetic existence; separated from the Source; unable to go to your home; parted from your family and friends? You have such little left don't you, in that sparkling little bottle. Enough for... one... two? And if they don't work out that's it, the end, all hope of finding a lifetime companion gone. Poor Lumin'el... all alone... for eternity."
"Don't push me, Azra'el." There is nothing I want more at this point than to leap into the circle and crush his head under my foot, but I can't. Star's soul lies in his hands; his future existence continues or ends at his whim. He can't refuse; it's in the contract; he simply can't refuse.
Azra'el laughs his light musical laugh. "Or what Lumin'el? What will you do if I don't ascend him? What will you do if I just walk away? What can you do, imprisoned here in this cesspit?"
"You can't refuse... The Council..."
"HA! Since when do you hide behind The Council? Since when did The Council ever wish to shield you?"
Azra'el draws his eyes away from Star and gives me a piercing stare, still cupping Star's face in his hand. I am painfully aware of how still he has gone, his body trembling and his chest rising and falling erratically in time with his horrible, rasping, gurgling breaths.
"The Contract? The Contract is broken, Luma... The Contract is in shreds along with The Council who made it. Do you really have no idea of what's going on in Eden?"
"There has been a civil war. It was brief, bloody and effective. The Council is gone; they fell early on and its members are dead, imprisoned or in hiding. Their status has been stripped; their power withdrawn and all of their contracts and decrees dissolved. There is nothing to bind me, Luma; nothing to force me into ascending your pet.
"If I remember there was a time before when you tried to force me into this. When I refused you went ahead and did it yourself." He laughs again. "Look how that ended."
"I would do it again," I hiss in a low, dangerous whisper. "And if I have to now, I will."
"The first time you caused a war: your whole unit was destroyed; banished, and their human playthings and spawn sent back to the wheel. Would you really risk all that again for... this?" He jerks Star's chin up and he struggles weakly, choking, unable to catch his breath. He is dying, now; right now.
"Azra'el, please. I don't care about The Council; I don't care about Eden; I don't care about anything. Please don't let Star die."
"Star?" He turns to peer at the dying boy and his lips curve to a cruel smile. "You really are pathetic Lumin'el." Letting go of Star he stands. "Sorry, but I don't think your little pet is going to make it."
"No! No Azra'el. You can't do it! You can't..."
He turns to me and his eyes are completely black. "Don't you ever dare presume to tell me what I can and can't do."
I can't remember ever having been so frightened. I can't take my eyes off Star. It is abundantly clear that he is losing his fight for life and that he is taking his last breaths even as we stand here and bicker. I can't believe even now that Azra'el would walk away and let him die. I don't care about The Council, about any war, anything but Star.
"Azra'el... please..." It is not beneath me to beg, not for Star.
I become aware of a strange fluttering sound that seems to be coming from above and a cool breeze fans my naked back. I hear Azra'el's hiss and look up to find him staring over my shoulder with wide eyes. Before I can turn two figures appear at my shoulders. I am as shocked as he is.
"Do your duty, Azra'el, or face my wrath."
Azra'el laughs again but it is uncertain now. "You have no authority over me, Seraph."
"I have authority over whomever I please, Ophanim. Don't make the mistake of thinking because I look human I have become human. Don't make me unfold the rest of my wings."
Azra'el blanches but juts his chin. "You wouldn't. If you did you would turn your friends to ash too."
"Fool! I lose patience with you. I warn you, Azra'el, whether I unleash my fire on you or not I have authority here and if you don't obey it I will have your head."
"But why? Why are you standing behind this pathetic...?"
"I would be careful how you speak to my friends, Azra'el. And I would be careful not to leave it too late to ascend the boy. Do not make the mistake of thinking that this is going to be easy for you. Do your job and live... perhaps. Fail to do it and die... for sure."
"You don't have the power to destroy me."
"Are you sure of that, Azra'el? Are you sure enough to bet your life on it?"
For a moment Azra'el glares at him and then he spins. Closing his eyes he holds his hands out, palm down, over Star. Star's back arches and he gives a single, gurgling, heart breaking cry as his body collapses inwards and a sparkling golden mist rises out of his mouth.
I don't watch to see what happens to his soul; I should but I can't help it. I know this is not the end for Star but it is still almost unbearably hard to see his lifeless body lying ; cast onto the floor like a broken doll made of misshapen clay. The shell I see is empty now, dead and cooling as I watch.
When I hear another cry I raise my eyes in time to see Azra'el stumble backwards, the glittering mist spilling from his fingers.
"No." I cry out taking a step forwards, but two iron hands grip my arms, one on the right and one on the left.
Azra'el spins. "You," he cries raising a shaking hand to point at me. "You..." The mist is spreading out over the floor and rises around the edge of the circle, a golden curtain spangled with diamond dust; shutting us off from the dead body of my lover and the black figure of my tormentor.