www.whyville.net Apr 19, 2009 Weekly Issue

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Fallen: Part 20

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The moment Azrael returned, I knew. I knew that all we had fought for over the millennium was threatened. Because, if he was back, that meant he had let himself become human in a way none of us had dared before.

Which explained the soul we could feel resting on his shoulders. It was a delicate little thing, a strange throbbing gold. Completely pure. At this moment, it held the form of a girl. A teenage girl, not impressive. The soul obviously didn't know it could cast other forms now, or it would not have chosen this scrawny little human.

Azrael contacted me almost instantly.

"Call the Conclave."

I smiled. "Why?"

The answering flare of anger was enough to make me laugh. "Because," he shot back, "there is an innocent involved here. Call the court . . . or suffer the consequences."

"What consequences?"

"I was cast aside for denying innocents. What of you to think your punishment any less severe? She sacrificed her life for me, Michael. She deserves this."

I heard the lies in his words. "She did not sacrifice herself for you, Azrael. Perhaps being mortal has clouded you mind to the truth. You took what you feared to ask for."

Then, tentative, afraid, I heard another voice. "I would have given it for him."

Intriguing. So much was revealed in that little voice, those tiny words. The innocence, the fear, and the complete, stark honesty.

"Very well. I will call the Conclave." And, although it was foolish, I felt the need to protect that small, innocent soul. "Do not be surprised if the outcome is not what you wish it to be, young one."

There was a pause. Azrael was talking to her, actually using his lips to from the words. Something I'd never done.

Then she spoke again, and the radiance shone through the words.

"Thank you."



Standing before the Angel's Court was not as terrifying as one might imagine.

Azi had told me they would all assume forms I could comprehend. I hadn't thought about that until now.


Azi smiled and shook his head. "Not all. I know Micheal prefers an eagle. And Indeh favors the larger cats."

"Cats and birds I can deal with." The words were more to reassure myself.

"No harm will come to you, Rayne."

"Thank you." I whispered.

Next I knew, we were there.

Azi was right. Around me, up on pedestals that looked like they were made of clouds, rested fifteen creatures. Most were human, super humanly beautiful. That didn't surprise me anymore. The animals were equally beautiful, sleek and dangerous.

"Rayne Marks?"

The words came from a golden eagle who sat in a spot of honor, above all the others.

"Yes." My voice resisted the words, but I pulled them out.

"Azrael, Angel of Death?"

Azi didn't say anything, but the proceedings continued, so I assumed this was that mental connection I had sensed earlier.

There was silence for a long time, but I heard Azi's voice crystal clear in my mind, recounting the tale of our twisted relationship. Up until the moment he killed me.

It was my turn to tell the story next, and I did. It didn't take nearly as long as I'd expected, shorter than Azi's side.

After that, the eagle fired more questions at Azi. Once I'd tuned into the mental exchange, it became effortless to listen.

The cross examination of Azi over with, the Eagle turned to me. I braced myself for the rapid fire questions.

None came.

"I like you, little soul. It is very clear that Azrael has let himself embrace humanity for you . . . The question is . . ." The eagle cocked his head. "Do you love him?"

I answered without hesitation. "Absolutely."

The eagle nodded. "I had hoped it would not come to this. Azrael, you have won the heart of this fine soul. You are clearly undeserving. It is fortunate for you that she has no trace of concern about this. The choice is yours, Angel of Death. She did not deserve the fate you gave her. She will be going home. The question is, are you willing to give up eternity for her?"

Azi was silent. I understood the question. I was going back; whether or not he stayed with me was his decision.

I knew, instinctively, that if he went with me, he would die. Because he would remember everything . . . and he would be human. One lifetime, when he had had millenniums. One chance. A limited number of heartbeats.

And if he stayed, no limits would be put on him. But each unnecessary heartbeat would be agony.

The paths forked, so distinct, so separate, before me. One meant life forever, the other happiness and death.

I could not decide which one I wanted him to choose.

Azi turned to me, hesitation in his eyes. "Rayne, you are crying."

I sniffled. "Angels don't cry."

He reached out, gently removed a single tear from my cheek. It balanced from the end of his finger, glittering like a diamond.

"Micheal. My sentence had been absolutely devoted to gaining entrance back into the Kingdom. Everything I have done for thousands of years has been to be where I am now." He laughed, a bitter, dry sound. "Ironic, is it not? Just when I find a reason to stay human, I receive what I've always wanted. You are right, I am not deserving of the gift of this mortal's love. But she has given it to me anyway. I have seen into the very corners of her heart and her mind. I have destroyed her. I have rebuilt her. Unfortunately the tallies lean more to the side of destruction. How could I, in good conscious, stay in her life when I cause her so much pain? To please myself?"

The horror gripped through me.

"I was told that when the Lord decided I was ready, I would return. I never realized what that meant. Yes, I am ready, because I finally care about someone more than I care about myself. Finally, I would give my life for someone of my own will. I finally know what it means to love. And I cannot return to Earth for that reasons."

The decision was made.

I screamed a scream that contained more agony that I knew my heart could contain. My knees gave out and I crumpled into a heap. My neck bled.

And I let everything just . . . fall.


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