A soldier let out a gurgled retort as he was cleaved through. The grandsword carved through the man and into the floor, passing by him as if he wasn’t there. Soltana witnessed another life perish by the Seraphim, another person whose life she could have saved if she’d discover the Seal holder’s exact location. Her core was churning, working on patches, scripts, workthroughs, patchthroughs, supporting modules, and honing in on the accuracy. It wasn’t fast enough as fleeing soldiers were reduced to ash once again.
The Seraphim was annihilation in the humanoid form.
“Please suffer no more and rest,” The Seraphim said, trying to atone in some way.
They were heading down a long and wide flight of stairs, down into the middle of the tower.
Soltana had counted that the Seraphim had destroyed the lives of thirteen thousand, two hundred and nine humans, and one Angel. Soltana was viewing each of those faces in her mind, accusatory, blaming her for her lack of action.
Her lack of speed and resolve in the situation.
If she acted fast enough, she would have saved more. Now others would perish due to her perceived weakness.
And yet, these thoughts I have only hold true if the Seraphim were not here. She is the one who destroyed these lives, as did the one who ordered her to.
Soltana shook off of the lies that felt like burdens to her. She took each lie, storing them in her Soltana’s Contentions module. This was not her burden. Here somatheonic self then clicked.
Module updated: Seal Compass
Her being felt the new module activate, giving her a pinpoint location. There just inside the hall, a Seal holder awaited. The beryllite door was small at just above six feet.
The Seraphim scoffed at that, changing her size to a mere five feet.
“Honored Apollyon, please act on my will,” The Seraphim commanded. She held out the twelve-foot blade and dropped it. The blade floated in place before changing. Soltana felt horror upon seeing it.
The gap in the forked blade shimmered as a red portal cracked and tore reality. A being began to pull its way through, folding and squeezing through the gap in the forked blade. It stood at six feet, with the sword blade changing to become the lining of its back. It was thin and muscular, made of the same red brass, appearing Anform-like. The nervous system along the flesh was marked with lines and patterns, flowing to a strange circular labyrinth upon its chest. It was headless, with the tip of the sword blade just behind its spine, clicking close.
The sword blade was its head.
“What is that?” Soltana said, dread filling her being.
“This is Apollyon, Orhicalcum Throne of The Ashen Grave of The Pit of Fire.” The Seraphim described with a hint of affection evident in her voice.
“Yes, a Throne is a living angelic weapon or object, imbued with Adonai’s Word. That red brass material is Orichalcum. God’s metal.”
“One of the few ways to penetrate adamantite. Mythical in all respects. As mysterious as Adonai himself.”
“And just as difficult to understand.”
The Seraphim replied with a golden bell laugh. It was wholly inappropriate to Soltana for the situation. But that was the difference between Soltana and the Seraphim. For a being that may have destroyed far more than the thirteen thousand lives, her sense of humor would be on another level.
The Seraphim unsheathed her dagger for the first time. The Orichalcum blade glistened in the light, the thin curved blade had an abstract artistic design etched into it. The wide pommel nestled the pinky for the Seraphim, making it a one-handed weapon.
“Come, Belial. It is your turn.”
The Seraphim said with affection.
The Throne stuck its hand into the beryllite door, piercing it through. its very body was sharpness incarnate. It carved a hole in the door, giving it a gentle push.
Pulse fire answered the knock, striking the Throne and pushing it back. It crouched down, speeding into the room to engage the targets.
The Seraphim made her way inside, hearing the cries and shouts of the soldiers fighting this strange new being. Soltana was too large to fit.
“Why are you waiting? You can resize yourself.” The Seraphim implored.
She focused on her size, becoming an ethereal cloud-focused around her head.
“That’s better. Did you discover her?”
“Yes, she is nearby.”
“Very good, let us continue and keep losses to a minimum. I do not wish to fight more than I have to.”
Soltana witnessed the fight of the Orichalcum Throne. Although calling it an Orichalcum monster was a closer fit. It shattered weaponry against its hide, its fists cut men to pieces, its bladed head snapped, taking a man’s torso. It spun and struck in the most unorthodox manner. It attacked as a being that exploited weaknesses, attacking from bad angles, at one point quickly crawling along the ground, snipping off the feet of the defenders.
She flowed past the Throne, pinpointing to the source.
The Seraphim marched behind, engaging the surviving soldiers with the Throne. Her dagger twirled like a baton, cutting through armor and man with equal ease. Soltana pressed on, flowing past the long line of soldiers pushing to the front or digging in. Pulse fire rang out, the cries and wails of fallen men added to the din of chaos.
She felt the signal was inside a room. She flowed past the door, discovering that she was ethereal, and could travel through solids. Inside the room was a simple utility closet. It was plain, if unused. The ectropy of time made the unused equipment glean with newness.
The Seal holder was behind the wall. She flowed past it, into a secret room. There the room centered on a raised pentagon of stairs. In the center was a small portal, the insides were open plains. A man was concentrating on the spell to keep it open. There a woman was making her way up the stairs, pausing to turn.
She looked at Soltana, eyes going wide with knowing.
“Saoirse (Seersha), hurry! The portal is open, we need to go!”
“Heimsman, wait. it’s a Seal holder…” The woman said with a murmur.
“She’s dreaming of me.”
“Get her name and come, hurry!”
“You, what is your name?” The woman marched down the stairs, staring with intensity at Soltana with violet eyes. Her presence was fairly strong. He posture was mighty. Her temperament firm.
Her height; short.
She wore a black robe, her curved hips holding an angled belt with equipment attached. She was thin yet curvy. Her massive brimmed conical hat flopped behind her, how it stayed on her head was a mystery. Soltana wondered how she was able to stand, as she was very top heavy.
And it wasn’t her hat or head.
Her long hair was raven black and her round shaped face was covered in slight black freckles.
“My name is Soltana, I am here to rescue you.”
“Rescue me? What are you talking about, I’m leaving!” Saoirse said, irate at the density.
“What? I was told you were a prisoner!” Soltana replied.
“By whom?” Saoirse said, her eyes going wide.
“Who?” She shouted.
She turned and trotted up the stairs, her staff in one arm and a bag in the other.
“Saoirse! Behind you!”
The older man shouted. She and Soltana turned, seeing the wall crumble to ruin. A flash of red flung from the darkness and the man grunted.
Saoirse turned, seeing an Orichalcum dagger blossomed from his forehead. The man stumbled back, staring at back Saoirse as he fell. The portal winked out.
Her friend lay still, the dagger sticking up as a tombstone.
“You!” She turned to Soltana, rage and agony etched on her face, tears were streaming down her cheeks.
“You’ve doomed me.” She said with a whisper. She dropped her staff and bag in defeat. It clattered on the stairs, rolling to the floor.
“Damn you!” She shrieked.
Soltana was taken aback at that.
“I don’t understand-”
“Damn who, my dear?”
A different voice spoke. Soltana turned to see who spoke.
It was the Seraphim.
She walked into the room, hefting Apollyon over her shoulder back into its sword form.
Saoirse stumbled back, falling to her rear on the steps.
“You led her to me! I can’t believe it…” She said in shock.
The lion’s helmet began to open, with the first lion’s face sinking into the second, sinking into the third, folding into the fourth, and then folding back and merging with the suit. She stepped out of the armor, it folded and opened up around her, sealing shut once she lept out of it.
She wore a white jumpsuit, that clung tightly to her body. She was all curves in perfect proportion.
“My beloved armor, The Roaring Lion, please stand guard. I have much to discuss.”
Soltana’s core skipped a process upon seeing the beauty in front of her. Her golden hair was still singed and short, which did little to deter from her face. Her face was indescribable, perfect to the very molecule.
Her eyes were a solid brilliant azure.
Of gleaming cobalt.
Of mysterious aquamarine.
Of sapphire gleaming sunlight.
Her iris was a golden ring.
Her eyes held several emotions.
The rage of an exploding sun.
She smiled with knowing, that she got what she wanted.
“Who are you?” Soltana asked, her voice wavering.
“Soltana, I am sorry for lying to you. For giving you hope and playing your identity against you.”
“Not much of a Guardian if you let your charge be captured,” She said with mockery, emitting a golden bell laugh.
“Don’t listen to her!” Saoirse shouted.
The Seraphim looked like a loving mother to a mischievous child. She strode to the stairs, and Saoirse backed up, crawling up the stairs.
She walked as her head turned to address Soltana.
“I am no Seraphim,” She stated.
Her six wings merged into four.
“I am an Arch-Cherubim.”
She grabbed Saoirse, lifting her by her throat.
“I am Lucifer, Arch-Cherubim of Light.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Sound.”
“Arch-Cherubim of The Voice.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Beauty.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Pride.”
“Arch-Cherubim of The Princedom.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Royalty.”
Lucifer paused, the struggling Saoirse went weak. Then limp.
Lucifer casually dropped her, her body tumbled down the steps with her massive hat floating off her head.
“Why? Why do this-” Soltana began
“I AM NOT FINISHED.”
Soltana was blasted back by the roaring noise, her ethereal body pinned to the wall. Lucifer’s face was contorted with rage for a brief second. She then continued.
Lucifer strode to Soltana, each step, a new title. Each title a heavier pressure crushed in on her.
“Arch-Cherubim of Majesty.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Alacrity.”
“Arch-Cherubim of The Eastern Crown.”
“Arch-Cherubim of The Sowing Seed.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Wisdom.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Intelligence.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Darkness.”
“Arch-Cherubim of The Steward of Earth.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Reality.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Martial Mastery.”
Arch-Cherubim, Champion of Adonai.”
There she said it with mockery; with disrespect.
“Arch-Cherubim of Blessing.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Patience.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Benevolence.”
“Arch-Cherubim of Advocacy.”
“Lucifer, Arch-Cherubim of Truth.”
Her voice boomed at the last title. Soltana had shrunk down, broken by the encounter.
“I’m sorry my sweet, well-intentioned Soltana.”
“When I said the power of Adonai- the Seal holders- belong to one, I meant they belong to Me.”
“I am the new god of this universe. Adonai abandoned you. He of all beings! He left you.”
Lucifer asked, pulling herself close to Soltana, faces just within an inch. She forced Soltana to look into her eyes.
The eyes of a detonated nebula.
“No answer? That is alright. Everything will be alright. I’m here now. I’ll love you better than Adonai ever could.”
“Now be a good child. Where are you?”
“No!” Soltana shouted, her stubbornness was all that she had left.
“Defiance, still in the face of pure horror and beauty? I am impressed with your bulwark.”
“Where are you?”
She asked again, her smiling face belying her intent.
“I’ll not say a word, you’ll hurt no more Seal holders!”
“You’re not alone?”
Lucifer laughed at the realization.
Soltana’s core skipped a cycle at her stupidity.
“Don’t feel stupid, good Soltana. Arch-cherubim of Intelligence, remember?”
“Also, this girl, Saoirse, is my second Seal holder.”
“Oh yes, the first one I found was broken and wounded of heart. I made sure to heal him.”
“To know him,” Lucifer stated, winking at Soltana.
Soltana felt a new feeling. Abject sickness.
“Where. Are. You?” Lucifer asked, like the hammer of a sledge.
“No, I’ll say no more!”
“But you are still talking. Be a good dear, please? Pretty please?”
Lucifer began with a pouty face.
“Oh, I know! You can redeem yourself!”
She hefted Apollyon, staring at the fallen Saoirse, a large grin forming on her face. Wicked intent formed in her heart.
“Redeem yourself, Soltana. Be a Guardian to Saoirse. A trade! You tell me where you are located, and I will keep her limbs intact! What will you do? Your location, or Saoirse’s body? She may forgive you for your stupidity if you do, I’ll be the first to tell her you guarded her well; that it was all a big mistake.”
Soltana processed the situation she was in.
Lucifer narrowed her eyes, glaring at her.
“And if you pop off now before giving me an answer, I’ll take her senses, too.
She smirked at that.
“Starting with her beautiful eyes.”
Soltana was silent, trying to decide.
“Belial is a surgeon’s scalpel in my hands.”
Soltana was frozen in an impossible situation. Give up the location of herself and Ruth, thereby not Guarding Ruth, but instead Guarding Saoirse. Or Guard Ruth at the cost of Saoirse’s limbs and soul. She then calculated it will take time for Lucifer to find her exact place. It will take time to gather the resources, to plan the flight, to fly out, and then come to an empty planet. It was a better choice.
“The Underrealm,” Soltana relented.
For the first time, Lucifer genuinely looked surprised.
She scanned Soltana, peering into her depths. She narrowed her eyes, the beautiful face amplified by slight anger.
“You tell the truth. Shit.” Lucifer swore.
“Ah well. You fulfilled your calling, even though it is in question. I shall uphold my bargain, Saoirse will remain intact.”
She peered back at the fallen woman with longing. Then back to Soltana.
Soltana felt sick.
“Soltana, you’ve been a real sweetheart. I can’t wait to meet you.”
“I can’t wait to see how you were made.”
“I hope I can figure out how to put you back together.”
The last thing Soltana saw from the vision was Apollyon swinging down atop her.
She was suddenly in a white room of indescribable size.
A voice spoke.
The voice of a loving Father.
The voice of a Father experiencing deep loss.
“Soltana, my love. My treasure. My child. Do not blame yourself for the actions of the wicked. You could not have known. You made sacrifices today that will ripple throughout for the good.”
“You are a Guardian. Continue fulfilling your calling.”
Soltana was silent, her mind had shattered.
The encounter broke her.
The dream ended.