Chapter 98: Fallen angel (3)

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While Nelay and Lenia had already retreated well out of range of the volcanic attack, Aleks rumbled closer. His ‘Soul Tendrils’ which had lifted him off the ground were unaffected by the effects of the spell and moved Aleks forward with serpentine movements. The fallen angel was struggling once more with the curse that afflicted her and was screaming while gripping her face with her hands. Even though she was in pain, she was still aware of Aleks who was coming menacingly close and she threw several magical attacks at him which were blocked by the enormous tendrils. If not for the vast quantity of ‘Soul Potential’ that Aleks had been saving, this battle would not have been as simple. Even blocking the attacks of the fallen angel depleted his ‘SP’ at a disturbing pace. Her magic was powerful, but her attacks were visibly slowing down and weakening.

“You are almost entirely spent. Struggling is pointless, you will soon be within my grasp.”

Aleks observed the angel with a pensive look beneath his mask. He was conflicted and a part of him ached at seeing her in pain which would have surprised those who knew him. He had never shown such emotion to others, but it was hidden under his mask and not visible even now.

Aleks’s words became strangely gentle. Nelay and Lenia were too distant at this time to hear him speak and so he felt no need to take care of his tone and words.

“I still remember when I saw you for the first time. You appeared before me, I would say like an angel, but you are in fact one. Imagine my surprise, a man who held no belief, meeting your gaze. I didn’t even notice that all those around me other than Ishmael had been instantly disintegrated by your power. None of that mattered in that moment. Your radiance blinded me, and the me that had lived his life devoid of light was filled with a stunning brilliance.”

As Aleks spoke gently while reminiscing, the angel had not ceased her attacks and even though she was in pain, she became incensed by his words. There was something in his words that rattled her out of her pain and her attacks became more chaotic and violent. Aleks, protected by the ‘Soul Tendrils’ acted as if he didn’t even notice and he continued to speak calmly as if there wasn’t a battle of life and death taking place.

“Of course, that was until I realized what had happened. Everyone I knew other than my brother was dead. Those I had labored with, who had stood by our side as we built the tower. Truthfully, it didn’t bother me so much that they were dead, but the horror that came next was too much for me to bear. You made me watch my world burn. I was both infatuated by you… and horrified. It was truly a conundrum.”

Only allowed on

Aleks chuckled while remembering his fragile state at that time. It was almost as if he were remembering a pleasant memory, but it was anything but one.

“I truly hate to see you like this, and your hair and wings, they no longer have that brilliance to them. I remember your golden hair that burned like rays of sunlight and those pure white wings like unstained marble. Now, black wings and black hair the color of obsidian… but your beauty hasn’t changed much. If anything, perhaps the contrast of colors brings out your charm even more.”

As Aleks got closer, his ‘Soul Tendrils’ struck even more violently. He utilized dozens of them to subdue the female angel who was now struggling to hold off his attacks. Her strength and magic was truly formidable, but her strength was beginning to fade. She smashed her fists against several of the tendrils while launching magical attacks at others but eventually the tendrils, which never seemed to end, slapped her down. They began to wriggle around her and constricted her in their embrace. She struggled to break free but they only wrapped around her tighter, sapping her vitality until she could no longer resist.

At that point, Aleks had drew close enough to touch her. He gently held out his hand and cupped her face with his palm. He slowly lifted her head to look at him, but her face was painted with rage and she angrily gritted her teeth. Her fully black eyes without pupils and eerily pulsing black veins made her look like a monstrous beauty. She screamed right into Alek’s face using her remaining strength, but Aleks’s mask only rippled slightly before stilling like a placid lake.

“Lariel… I haven’t forgotten you for even a moment.. But I still don’t know. Should I despise you for your part in the destruction of my world? Should I hate you for the death of my beloved friend? Or should I love you for that moment that felt like eternity where you moved my heart for the very first time?”

Lariel, the fallen angel was raging violently, but when she heard his words she looked at him with a blank expression. A single tear fell from her right eye, slowly sliding down her face. It was not a normal tear, but was a crimson color like blood.

“Save me.” She finally whispered, but it was a struggle for her to speak.

Aleks hesitated, but finally he sighed deeply and gripped her head with both his hands.

“You saved my life Lariel. Even though my soul was trapped and I was tormented for untold lifetimes, the reason I can be here today is because of your mercy. I don’t know why you betrayed Tihr when you were on the cusp of victory. Did you do it for me? Or was it for yourself? I need to know.”

Lariel struggled once more, she was fighting through the pain of the curse and more tears of blood fell down her face. This only made her look even more frightening.

“Too difficult to speak.. show you…”

Lariel attempted to lift her arm weakly but she was still being constricted tightly. Aleks loosened the grip of the tendrils so she could fully lift her arm and she touched his wrist delicately. Almost immediately, a jumbled mess of images filled Aleks’s mind. It was difficult to make sense of all of them, but one in particular grabbed his attention.

Lariel was standing over Ishmael and An-Namrud. He had just stabbed his friend in the back and was holding him while Ishmael spoke his last few words. Lariel felt wracked with grief. Angels were unique beings, they were not like the other beings that existed in the universe. They didn’t have the same free will that others had. Their choices were singular. They would choose a god to serve based on the universal laws they themselves felt embodied their own existence. Once they made this choice, there was almost no going back. To turn their backs on the gods they served meant falling, and this was a disgraceful act which usually led to death or exile to the nine hells. For the existences known as angels, exile or death was equally egregious.

Lariel was an angel of justice, but at the same time she had to follow the commands of her god whether she agreed with those commands or not. However, when she saw the sacrifice that Ishmael made, it truly touched her heart. At the time, Aleks who was An-Namrud, didn’t realize what that sacrifice meant but she did. When the power of the Origin left him and entered An-Namrud after his death, it resonated with her own soul. What she saw there was something she had never expected. It was at that moment she knew that the gods were a lie and her kind was not only not meant to serve them, but were in fact not inferior to them in the least.

It was at that moment that she hesitated, she didn’t want to complete Tihr’s orders and this allowed An-Namrud the chance to kill himself. If she had wanted, she could have easily taken him alive and extracted the Origin from his soul before it could fully merge with him. With his death, his soul passed on, and it was only later after their world had been merged into the God Nexus that they could fully trap his soul. They could no longer force the Origin out of him and could only acquire it through other means. This enraged Tihr and so Lariel was cast down, cursed and left to rot away for all eternity in suffering.

“What was it that I saw? Those eyes that see all truth, they bore into me and revealed all. There is something familiar about it.”

That wasn’t all that Aleks saw, there were many other images. Lariel had experienced something in that moment which transcended all. It was a vision of the Origin of all.

“Maybe she can provide some of these answers… “

Aleks looked down at the angel who he held by her head in both his hands. The rest of her body was wrapped up tight by his ‘Soul Tendrils’. He could see her drifting once more from lucidity and knew he had to make a decision quickly before she lost it once more.

“Will you serve me?”

In truth, this was the only way he could save her. A part of him didn’t want her to walk this path of revenge with him, but another part welcomed it. It was a choice of whether or not to walk it alone. There were others around him and there would be many more in the future, but she was the only one he felt was real.

“I.. will serve… you.”

Through a great struggle she acquiesced, offering her heart and soul. Aleks felt power flowing into her from his hands which gently held her face. A crackling sound came from her body and the black throbbing veins which marred her skin began to subside. It took every last bit of Aleks’s ‘Soul Potential’ and he thought he would run out, but just when it seemed it would all be depleted, he finally felt the depleting SP halt. With that last bit of SP that left his body, her eyes once more cleared and became a sky blue that reminded him of the clear morning sky. Her hair and wings remained black, but her eyes, those were the eyes he remembered. They stared at him without guile, and the tears of blood which marred her face became clear like water.

Nelay and Lenia who were watching everything from a distance hadn’t heard any of the words which were shared, but they could see everything that was happening. Neither was amused.

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