Everyone froze as a long broadsword materialized in front of Godiva’s neck. As it slowly pushed her back against the throne, a hand materialized holding the ornate hilt. When the sword finally pinned her against the throne, her eyes wide with indignation, Lucifer stood to the side of her, arm stiff, his expression one of deep disapproval as he glared at her.
“You dare!” Santon snarled, his eyes flashing fire.
Another voice tsked when Santon started for Lucifer. The sword at his own throat pushed Santon back into his throne, although his eyes held hatred as he glared at his owner.
“That’s a good little demon,” Fallon smiled, the evil intent in that smile bringing gasps from the crowd. Would the immortal truly behead their maker? What would happen then? Would they all simply, disappear? A few of the stronger demon’s and angels started for the dais, pulling their weapons intent on protecting their masters. That was when those hidden in the crowd decloaked, revealing the snakes hidden in the grass. Quickly and efficiently they either disarmed or removed of the threat before surrounding the group in the middle, their weapons at the ready, their backs to the dais so they could keep an eye on the no less dangerous threat surrounding their creators. There were a few snarls and growling threats from those left, but they wisely stayed back.
“I should have killed you when you were still a weak human,” Santon snarled glaring up at Fallon.
“And I should kill you now for what you have put us through, but that is not for me to decided. That is theirs,” Fallon nodded towards Damien and Zara.
“Coward,” Santon sneered.
Fallon chuckled, but it wasn’t a pleasant sound. More eager anticipation of the unpleasantness that was to come. “If only that were true.”
“You wound me, my dear,” Lucifer frowned down at Godiva, his free hand over his heart. “I expected more from you. Instead, once again you try to pin the blame on me for your actions. I have my moments of brilliance, but not even I could concoct a story as fanciful as that one.”
“You deny the atrocities you have inflicted on your children? On those abominations?” Godiva hissed, her blue eyes flashing fire as they darted to Zara and Damien. They stood quietly, their expression neutral, relaxed.
Lucifer growled, the sound reverberating off the hall walls, menacing. Blood began to trickle down Godiva’s throat as he leaned down, his face inches from hers. Eyes flashing with fire, his wings snapping out behind him in rage, he snarled, “You will be respectful to those who gave you life, or I will remove your head from its shoulders and feed your rotting corpse to my hounds.”
“You don’t have the balls,” Godiva sneered.
“Lucifer,” Zara’s quiet voice warned gently.
Lucifer froze. The slice in Godiva’s neck was deep enough blood started oozing around the blade, staining her sheer white dress, but it was not life threatening, unfortunately. With an immense amount of will power, Lucifer slowly straightened, his posture radiating rage. With the same amount of slowness, he slid his sword from Godiva’s neck, slicing deeper as he went. When he stepped back, Godiva put her hands to her neck in an attempt to stem the flow of blood as she gagged.
Those in the audience frowned, not understanding how their maker was hurt by Lucifer’s blade and why she was not healing. Shouldn’t she be healing? She was all powerful and made of steel and impossible to…kill, wasn’t she?
Closing her eyes, Zara sighed deeply, shaking her head in exasperation. “Was that really necessary?” she asked, eyes narrowed on Lucifer as if he were an errant child.
“It made me feel better,” Lucifer muttered looking down at his sword as he moved the hilt around in circles, the point making a little hole in the floor where it rested.
Godiva continued gasping and bleeding.
While he was fairly certain she would not die from the wound, the act of dying would be excruciating. Yet, at the color began to drain out of her face, Santon was starting to second guess that she would live through this. “Heal her!” he roared, the desperation thick in his voice. Struggling with the invisible bonds that held him to his chair, Fallon’s sword cutting into his own skin, Santon finally collapsed against the hard metal, the whites of his eyes showing his fear. “Please!” he begged hoarsely.
Still his sister bled.
Lucifer looked out at Damien and Zara who stared back, their faces stern in silent reprimand. He had a lot to atone for, and allowing Godiva to suffer was not helping his cause. Cringing, he looked away, ashamed.
“Fine,” he sighed dramatically. Stepping forward, he held his hand a few inches in front of Godiva’s face and neck. Closing his eyes, he took in a deep breath then let it out slowly, heat and power releasing from his hand in unison. Suddenly, Godiva was loudly gulping air in the silence, the sound echoing in the great hall. Shaking his body and wings as if shaking off water, his wings folded themselves behind him as he stepped back, his sword once more point down hands resting on the hilt, feet set apart, eyes narrowed on the gasping goddess.
“You will pay for that,” Godiva hissed.
Lucifer shook his head not unlike Zara had done a few moment ago. “You sit before your doom, bleeding from a wound I should have not been able to inflict and you still believe you have the upper hand? You are more foolish than I first thought.” He looked out at Zara and Damien who stood still as statues, the very essence of the universe and its power and shook his head once again. “At least I deeply regret what I did to them. I could cite ignorance, but that would not absolve me of my sins.” He looked back at Godiva. “You, on the other hand, have much to atone for.”
“I have done only that which ensures the continuation of our existence, of the existence of our creations. They,” she pointed at the group in front of them, “wish to destroy everything.”
“So in turn you wish to what? Destroy them? Won’t destroying the very thing that binds the universe together defeat the purpose? Besides, how do you destroy the most powerful beings in the universe when you cannot heal yourself or move from this throne?” Lucifer tsked. “We both know I’m not the one holding you to it.”
There was an uneasy murmur throughout the crowd as they realized what Lucifer said was true. As powerful as he was, he could not hold the goddess in one place for this long. Not with a mere sword no matter how powerful in magic that sword was.
Lucifer leaned down, the smile on his face positively gleeful. “Not the strongest immortal in the room like you would like everyone to believe, are you.”
“My brother…,” she gasped.
“Is as big of an idiot as you are,” Fallon finished for her.
“How dare you! I own you boy,” Santon snarled.
“You tried to own me, and for a while I believed you did. Now I know better,” Fallon corrected grimly.
“Maybe I should tell your mistress what you have done while she has been off playing human.” Santon turned his eyes to Zara, the light in them along with the gleeful snarl on his lips making her frown. “How many innocent lives you have taken. How many you have torture endlessly just so you can enjoy the rush of power when you break them. How many females you have…,” his airway was suddenly cut off, leaving him struggling to breathe.
“You are not one to throw stones, my friend. No one is perfect, and those who say they are are lying not only to others, but to themselves,” Damien said calmly walking towards the dais. “Besides, there are no secrets between us. So threatening him with past misdeeds will do you no good. Fallon has been and always will be ours. Nothing will ever change that one fact.” He stopped at the bottom of the dais, his eyes growing sad as he placed his foot on the bottom stair. “What happen?” he asked his tone full of hurt and betrayal. “What did we do to warrant your hatred?”
“We don’t hate you,” Godiva whispered, her eyes shining with tears.
“Then what have we done that you would risk the destruction of everything we have built?”
The silence dragged. It was clear that Godiva and Santon did not want to answer the question by their sullen expressions. They were not the creators of all living and dead sitting proudly upon their thrones. They were errant children playing dress-up, slumped in their parents chairs, their judge, jury and executioner standing before them. Well, executioner may have been a bit harsh. Whatever the punishment was going to be, those watching were very happy they were not the ones sitting on the dais.
Santon was the first to finally speak, or try too. With a wave of his hand and a nod, Fallon removed his sword from Santon’s neck. Taking a step back, he stood to the side, eyes narrowed, their sword tips resting on the floor not unlike Lucifer, seemingly at ease. No one was fooled. One wrong move, and the two immortals on the thrones would bleed.
“Continue,” Damien commanded.
Clearing his throat to make sure he could make some sort of sound, Santon tried again. “You betrayed us.”
“They betrayed you?” Gideon repeated stunned at the declaration. “How so?”
Santon’s eyes narrowed in hatred at the warrior. “By replacing us with you.”
Gideon blinked in the silence that followed that declaration. Finally regaining somewhat of his senses, he stepped forward, his shock wearing off into anger. “So let me get this straight. You have put us all,” he waved to everyone in the room, “through a millennium of pain and suffering, brought the universe to the brink of destruction because you are jealous of something that was preordained before time began? Before even Zara and Damien woke?”
“What are you babbling about,” Santon growled sitting up in the throne and leaning forward, glaring at Gideon. “I was there when Damien established to your pact. You and your merry band of misfits,” there were a few growls of displeasure from said misfits, “were to guard Zara, keep her safe from an unknown evil.”
“Which was you,” Fallon interrupted contemptuously.
Santon glared up at him, showing how much he despised the immortal before turning back to Gideon and continuing as if he had not just been rudely interrupted. “And in return you would be given immortality. But you did not keep your end of the bargain, did you.” He glared back up at Fallon. “I still was able to take her. I was still able to make her mine.” The satisfaction and triumph in his voice elicited a growl from Gideon and Fallon. Both moved to attack the bastard. Zara simply raised her hand and they stilled. Rage still vibrated off of them, the tension singing through their bodies and wings.
“Where some of what you say is true, that is not exactly what happened, is it, Godiva,” Zara said quietly into the silence. Slowly, as if she were taking a stroll in the park, Zara walked to Gideon, her eyes locked with Godiva’s as her fingers gently brushed through Gideon’s feathers, as if she were petting his wings. The tension drained from his body, like water suddenly released from a faucet. Closing his eyes, his body shuddered. When he opened them, Zara was standing before him, her eyes now watching him, her smile gentle, full of love and promise of intimate things later. Reaching out he touched her cheek with the tips of his fingers, his smile answering hers, his eyes darkening with promise.
“How can you allow him to touch her when you are standing right there?” Godiva exclaimed with disgust. “He is a destroyer of cultures, a heathen, a betrayer of his own kind. He does not have the right to touch something a pure as our beloved Goddess.”
The darkness faded in Gideon’s eyes to be replaced with pain. He was all those things and much more, but then they all had their rolls to play in the grand scheme of the universe. As they all had, Gideon had done what needed to be done to make sure the universe kept moving forward.
“Your beloved Goddess,” Fallon mused, his eyes on Gideon and Zara. There was a wistfulness that was replaced with loathing as he turned those eyes towards Godiva. “You have a strange way of worshiping your beloved Goddess. Tell me, what were the motives behind your actions when you betrayed that goddess?”
Godiva glared at the warrior for so long that everyone thought she was not going to answer. Then, in a voice that told them how much she detested Fallon, she hissed, “Because she betrayed us first.”
Zara turned towards the dais, her eyes wide in surprise. When she looked at Damien, she saw his expression was guarded. It was then she realized he knew something she did not. Frowning, she turned back to her accusers. “Santon accused me of betraying you when we first asked. Even though he tried to explain to us why he felt this way, I still don’t understand. How did bringing Gideon and Fallon into our fold betray you? You are still our children. Our first born, for lack of a better word. Our love for you has never wavered, never changed.”
Behind her, Gideon flared his wings before they settled behind him in ready to launch in a moments notice. There was something not right. This whole exchange was too…peaceful. One glance towards Fallon and he knew his brother felt it too. The feeling of secrets better left buried were about to be uncovered. Godiva’s next words proved those feeling true.
“You were supposed to be pure,” Godiva cried, a tear escaping one eye to run down her cheek. She had stood in her declaration, taking one step towards them. Next to her Lucifer moved in one fluid motion, putting himself partially in her way, stopping her from going further. Godiva did not even notice him, her eyes only for Zara. “You were our mother. Our father’s love,” she pointed her finger towards Damien, “literally the other half of his soul. Everything was about our family. Learning together, creating together. When we made mistakes you would help us correct them, or teach us what we did wrong so we would not do it again. And when you sent us out on our own, allowing us to grow, we always knew you would be right behind us, ready to catch us if we fell. You were the personification of perfection, of righteousness, of all that was good and pure. And then one day you were not there when I needed you most. When I begged you to help me, to comfort me, there was only silence. When I in search of you, too afraid that something ill may have befallen you, for that is the only reason you would not come to my aid, I find you with them.” The last she snarled, her eyes flashing fire as she glared at Gideon then Fallon. “I knew what they were the moment I laid eyes on them. Heathens. Abominations.” She turned back towards Zara, her eyes accusing. “And you allowed them to touch you. To…,” she choked on a sob. “You were no longer the clean, pure being that was the creation of all that was wholesome and full of honor. You were a disgrace, sinful, a monster.” The last was a snarl so full of disgust that Zara took a step back, the solid wall that was Gideon steading her along with his hands gently enclosing themselves around her arms. “I knew I had to stop you, to show those who still thought you were the pure, untouchable goddess they worshiped how fall you had fallen. I had to destroy what you held in so high esteem, higher than your own children, higher than the other half of your soul, so you could feel the pain I felt. Feel the utter barrenness that has become my existence since I found out the truth of what you are.”
“Except when you came to me with your accusations, your truths, you found that I already knew,” Damien said calmly, his eyes on Godiva. “And when I would not abandon her, you decided to enlist your brother. You knew his unnatural obsession with Zara and you used it to your advantage by whispering your own lies into his willing heart. You, who claim to be pure and just. Is that not the greatest betrayal of all, to use the trust of those who put their faith and love for you above all else for your own personal gain?”
“I did what I had to do. What was needed to be done to ensure that our path stays true and pure,” Godiva responded, her tone as if she was reciting a line from a speech, her posture stiff as she drew herself up to her full height as she looked down her nose at those who surrounded her.
“To whose way of thinking?” Fallon asked.
Leveling a contemptuous look in his direction, Godiva spat, “The only way. Mine. I am the beginning and the end. Those I have created I will destroy unless they bow to my will.”
“And those who you have not? What will become of those creatures?” Santon asked. He was staring up at his sister as if he did not know her.
“They will bow down to me or be destroyed.”
“Then you leave us no choice,” Zara said, her tone filled with a deep sadness.
“No!” Santon cried rising to his feet. “You can’t! Mother, please!”
Suddenly there were only the four of them. Damien, Zara, Godiva and Santon. Zara moved until she stood next to Damien, her hand seeking the comfort of his. There was no more pretense, no more posturing, just four immortal beings whose lives had been intertwined almost from the beginning of time. Nothing else existed. All around them was the vast emptiness of space, a blank slate ready to be transformed into something beautiful, something terrible, something alive. Only one sun shone, giving warmth and light to an otherwise cold and dark place.
“What have you done?” Santon whispered in horror as he slowly fell to his knees. Godiva stood still as a statue, her skin as white as her dress.
“What needed to be done to ensure the survival of the universe,” Damien answered calmly. “Godiva has shown us what we have refused to see for a very long time. That what we have built over the long centuries was flawed. In order to obtain the utopia that she so desires we must start anew.”
“You said nothing is perfect. That those who claim to be perfect are lying to themselves. How can you expect us to live up to the ideal of what is perfect when there is no such thing?” Santon demanded.
“That is for you to decide,” Zara answered looking down at him with serene eyes. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is each beings utopia. You must decide together what that is.”
“But we can never agree on anything,” Godiva said, finally finding her voice. “I want peace and beauty. He wants chaos and pain. How can we come together and find a middle ground when we are so different?”
Damien shrugged. “That is up to you.”
“You won’t help us?” Santon asked pushing himself to his feet.
“Not this time,” Damien answered. “We feel our continual assistance led to your dependence on us, so when we had decided to allow you to fall and pick yourself up on your own, to seek out our own lives, our own pleasures, you felt we had betrayed you. This time we will not make that same mistake.”
“You are no longer young children to be coddled. You have a lifetime of experience to help you make your choices, be they good or bad.” Zara continued. “You can do this. We have faith in you.”
Slowly the images of Damien and Zara began to fade.
“No! Wait!” Santon cried. “Don’t leave us.”
“Remember, it is a new beginning, my child. Be who you truly want to be,” Zara urged, her voice echoing as it faded.
“And never forget. We will always love you,” Damien smiled just before they faded out of sight leaving Santon and Godiva staring in horror at the empty space that used to be their parents, their creators.
Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes