Ruth Maw S’yliska
“Well, my love? What will it be?”
“I know, I know!”
“You’re thinking hard, the very gears of your existence turn with the possibilities, trying to calculate how you and your family can survive this,” Neon kept taunting Ruth, holding her close.
My full name… Ruth Aimèe LaChapelle. Focus first. Survive now. Introspect later.
Diniel kept his sword ready, his voice gone and a green circle with a tiny pie slice floated above his head. Basil was still unmoving, the pressure of the evil malevolent intent from Neon had broken him. The Fallen angels abandoned their circle, forming up as a close group, ready to strike.
“And remember, the last time you were stuck in such a situation you lost everybody!- Oh, wait… you probably don’t…”
“Try not to make the same mistake- no pressure!”
“Don’t do this. Please don’t do-”
“Boring!” Neon said with a yawn.
He point out a finger, his hand traveling as if on a rail. It traveled.
He aimed a finger at the downed Hogboon.
“Ray of Jade,” Neon chanted, a wide beam arc of jade energy flashed.
Diniel acted quickly, striking the hogboon with his foot before spinning away, sending his body tumbling through the sky. The moss vaporized and the rocks melted to instant slag, but the hogboon was safe.
“Treat that as a warning. I get bored easily- call if a flaw of god- Now what choice will you make?”
“Ruth…” Maw whined, her voice was weak.
Ruth could not think of any way to get out of this. Gripping her was a god of horrifying power with an equal inverse of empathy. Neon cocked his head, his smiled closed.
“Ruth. Make a deal with him. We all team up to destroy the Fallen angels. And then he leaves all non-Fallen angels in peace,” Maw began, her internal voice rasping.
“Fallen angels? They look more like failed angels- I mean look at that half clapper right there! What can he even do!?” Neon bantered, pointing to Azazel.
The angel’s eyes became wide with fury at the insult.
“And there’s the trigger! Hey half clapper, try applauding? What? No? You can’t? If you clap now, I’ll let you leave!”
Azazel seethed in silence, refusing to take the bait.
Neon replied with a point and laugh at the easily bullied angel.
“And what do I get out of the deal, oh daughter of mine?” Neon replied, turning his attention to Ruth’s second internal voice.
“How- how can you hear her?” Ruth asked in stunned silence.
“A father can always hear his daughter. Do well to remember that- I have to nip that backtalk early!”
“Ruth, Maw has a point. But we will need a bargain. Something he may want,” S’yliska added.
“Good point! What would I want?” Neon replied, hearing S’yliska as well.
The angels readied their weapons, blanching at the prospect of the tables turning.
“Do I want souls?”
The way Neon said it was an obvious lure. But Ruth went for the ego.
“You want everything.”
“Good answer, kiss ass!” Neon replied with a chuckle.
He clacked his teeth together, the disquieting snap silenced the mossy plains apart from the glowshroom’s music melody.
“But in this moment of exact time- the present situation we currently occupy- what do I want?”
“You want knowledge.”
“That’s close. More specific.”
“Ruth, he does not know of these angels. Think on-” S’yliska began.
“Ah ah ah! No hints,” Neon replied as he gripped Ruth tighter.
She gasped at the strength, her chitinous armor cracked at the hip.
“Neon. Do you know-”
“Call me father! Or hubby- whichever!” Neon replied.
Ruth stammered and flinched with pain at the pressure.
“Father. Do you know of these angels?”
“Do not tell him any-”
Azazel began but dodge a green ray of destructive energy, an unexpected attack. The angels spread out, trying to gauge when to strike.
“Don’t interrupt my love, half-clap,” Neon said flatly.
“These angels are Fallen angels.”
“I know that.”
“They were around in the beginning and betrayed Adonai for another.”
“Betrayed Adonai?” Neon asked incredulously.
“Hey, half-clap! Do you have free will?”
“I obey my god-”
“Just say no, half-clapper!” Neon shot back.
“Diniel, do you have free will?”
Diniel shook his head, still silent.
“So if they have no free will, then how the hell do they betray?” Neon got in close, within inches of Ruth.
“I do not know, father. But I do know they betrayed Adonai for an Archerubim named Lucifer. She betrayed Adonai and led a host of others to betray Him, wishing to be held up as God.”
Neon’s mouth closed as he processed what he heard. He glanced back at the Fallen angels then back to Ruth.
“Father, they are trying to kidnap me,” Ruth stated coldly, bringing out her trump card.
Neon smiled as he stared deeply at Ruth with eyeless sight.
“What is the contract?” Neon asked.
“Granted it’s just a one-time thing- think of it as my baby’s one-year birthday present! And baby shower… And wedding shower… Wedding gift? Whatever.”
Ruth’s mind turned at how easy it was. She felt she was falling, and all that was left to grab was an monkey’s emerald paw. But try her best she did.
“You assist in destroying these Fallen angels, leaving the ones I know and care for unharmed in body, mind, -” Ruth was interrupted as Azazel appeared in front of her and Neon, his sword free and slashing at them.
The wind thundered with a crack of displaced air.
Neon caught the odachi of Orichalcum in between his fingers like a vice. He spun Ruth away, tripping her to the ground.
“That was very foolish; you just gave her a blank check,” Neon rebuked.
“You could have used that time to run.”
His free hand shot to grab Azazel, but the angel vanished just as quickly. Azazel appeared behind Diniel, he turned to parry the blow. The orichalcum blade bit into the adamantite blade, golden sparks sprayed out, pushing Diniel back. Neon was on top of Azazel, flowing green tendrils lashed out, striking at the angel.
Ruth got to her feet only to be struck in the back of the head by a floating hand, knocking her to her knees. She rolled, dodging another flying blow to see the floating angel was striking out at her.
Ruth could feel the floating hands with her mind, her psychokinetic shield activated and the hands crashed against the barrier.
The angel vanished.
The massive armor mounted angel charged, the thunder of his mount shook the ground, trembling Ruth to her bones. It charged for her, lance leveling to her face. She fired a barrage of makeshift quills from her hand, the bone shattered and glanced off of the armor. Ruth dodged as the lance thrust, an easy attack. She felt her projected barrier collapse from the blow. If it had struck her head on…
It wasn’t meant for Ruth as the horse turned on a dime, keeping its momentum and rushed to Diniel.
Diniel blinked out of existence.
Where did he go?
Neons arms folded back, pointing at the charging angel who was charging at him. A large green beam cut a wide swathe into the area, melting the rock to slag. The mount lept over and kept running on air. He struck with the lance, green blood and skull matter went flying from the strike. Ruth glanced back, seeing Neon was fine.
“His healing abilities are beyond anything I’ve seen,” S’yliska mentioned.
Ruth felt an invisible hand knock against her shield. She turned, seeing nothing.
“I don’t need the others, just you,” The angel spoke from behind.
Ruth spun in a wide wild arc, her arm forming to a hooked bladed ax head.
She struck wind as the invisible angel had left long ago.
She heard the voice chant. A wall of wind struck her, forcing her back slowly as the wind picked up. The kinetic barrier held, but it was taking concentration to focus. Several hands struck her from behind, dazing her and breaking her focus. She flew back as the gale caught her, tossing her around. She felt thunderous blows against her body, keeping her juggled.
She struck the ground hard, raising her barrier again. She caught sight of the other battle.
Azazel vanished with a blur, Ruth caught the streaking blur in the sky. Diniel was there, his hand glowing from the release of power. He was supporting from above.
He might be trying to track the invisible angel. Ruth concluded.
She glanced to the Emerald god and the tall angel.
Barthin and Neon battled, trading blows with one another. Each blow cracked a thunderous din akin to crashing earth.
“I don’t know anything anymore,” Ruth said aloud.
Her vision went white as a fist struck her face, cracking the chitin and punching through her barrier. She forced her barrier to arise again, a raining thunder of blows responded, slammed against her shield.
She reached out with her mind, trying to find a sense of where the angel would be.
“This is such basic fighting. Will you offer Forcas any challenge at all? Will you continue to be distracted?” The angel taunted from behind again.
She ignored it and kept searching as the thunderous blows rained down from all directions. And there she felt it, the angel’s weakness.
Air displacement. There was a pocket of air that simply didn’t exist just above her, moving to and fro.
“Ruth, focus on that barrier, I will keep track of Forcas,” Maw said as she volunteered for scout work.
Ruth now understood where Forcas was at any one point. She went on the offense, feeling his torso and dropping her defense and wrapping him in a sphere of spiked kinetic force. She was suddenly struck by fists from all sides but kept up the attack. She squeezed, feeling her micron thin kinetic spears striking true, puncturing the angels outer exterior. The striking fists instantly ceased as the angel became visible, fighting to struggle against the crushing kinetic force.
Her flesh flowed, forming a large limb of quills. She focused her psychokinetic ability into them and fired a volley. The quills cracked as they sped forward, striking into Forcas and embedding deep. The angel shrieked with the sound of a roaring locomotive, dropping to the ground. She pressed down with her psychokinetic power, attempting to pin him in place. She slowly trudged to him, feeling the angel battling against her.
She expanded her view to Neon.
Neon and Barthin battled furiously, steam began to rise from the larger angel. Neon danced away from another lance strike, the weapon dug into the moss and stone, carving a fine scar. The demon lashed out with several flowing cords of green flesh, tripping Barthin’s mount.
The steed went tumbling as did the rider. And then the mount vanished in blue light. Barthin tumbled and recovered, standing at equal height to the Emerald being. He saluted as he twirled his lance into an attack posture. Neon barked a laugh as he rushed, crashing into him with a bundle of flowing tendrils.
A wave of heat compressed outward, pushing Neon back. Barthin billowed steam, his phthalo blue adamantite turned a shade orange.
“No way! You can heat admanatite! How do you do it?” Neon asked with a chuckle. Black smoke curled from his singed suit.
Barthin responded by breathing in.
And then breathing out a long plume of orange liquid flame.
Neon was bathed in the fire that seemed to expand and burn without end. Barthin marched into the large column fire, readying his lance.
A flaming body danced from the all-consuming fire.
Another body stepped out of the flaming burning god, discarding the flaming flesh like a discarded suit. The fire continued to rage without fuel, scorching the moss to ash.
“Hellfire!” Neon began with faux wonderment.
“Did you know you could fuel a special compression engine of my design with that?”
A thrown spear lanced into him, pinning Neon to the ground.
“Is that a no?”
He gripped the lance, sidestepping. His flesh flowed around the lance like water as he stood tall again. He lightly dusted at his well-tailored jacket.
Barthin strode from the wall of hellfire, red hot and billowing steam. The sole red eye glowed with malevolence. He reached out with his hand and the lance answered his call, rushing back to him.
“That’s a neat trick! Mine’s better-” Neon began to say as he choked and gagged.
Green blood flowed from a vertical wound from the center of his torso down to his trousers.
Azazel stepped next to Barthin sporting a haughty smile upon his face.
“Ow, a paper cut!” Neon gurgled as a wave of green blood overflowed from his mouth.
He split in half, the sides splattered to the earth. Green blood flowed, pooling in small rivers.
He went still.
“Barthin, handle Diniel. The Seal holder is mine,” Azazel ordered with double entendre. He gestured with his chin to Diniel. The Angel of Lineage had touched down nearby, adamantite sword readied. It was covered in cuts and nicks from Azazel’s odachi.
The green lakes of blood flowed backward, back into the two Neon halves. Both halves reformed and stood. Now there stood two fully formed Neons.
Both adjusted their frocks, each sporting a mirrored massive grin.
The angels were taken aback in shock.
“Just kidding!” Neon stated with a laugh.
“Oh no…” Ruth stated, the horror of what she witnessed dawned on her.
Azazel’s eyes went wide.
One of the copies looked back to Diniel.
“Dinny, be a good angel this time and go look after my daughter, will you?” Neon commanded with faux hurt in his voice.
The angel took two tentative steps back and then vanished.
“It’s been a while since this happened! It’s always a bother to keep copies for long. Always trying to subvert the original,” Neon complained idly.
“I’m the real one, by the way,” The other Neon stated, hand to mouth.
“See what I mean?” The other shot back, palming his cueball head.
They glanced at one another.
They both laughed, a duet of shrieking goats.
Azazel sidestepped, sword leveled.
Neon followed his gesture, hands clasped. Neon mirrored Neon perfectly as it also sidestepped, eyeing Barthin.
Both crushed down upon the angels, shrieking with laughter. Their battle continued.
Ruth focused on just surviving.
I don’t know anything anymore, Ruth chided upon seeing Neon revive, twice as unfathomable as before.
The angel thrashed against her crushing mind. She pulled deep from her wells, pressing down like boulder upon him.
She then pounced on the falling fallen angel, seeing her opportunity.
Her arm became a massive serrated spear, her psychokinetic abilities kept Forcas pinned and thrashing, golden blood poured from his wounds.
“I still can’t get any DNA sample. We’re being rejected wholesale,” Maw complained.
It is a luxury at this point. Can we survive? Ruth countered.
“Soul Yoke,” The angel spoke out.
Another spell, another unknown.
Ruth felt speared through the midsection as she dove down atop Forcas. She lept back in shock, scanning around for an attacker. She looked down, seeing no damage in her torso. The angel rose aloft again, quills raining down from the sky as he recovered.
Ruth fired another quill, striking an impassive Forcas at the shoulder.
Ruth felt a stabbing pain in her own shoulder and recoiled. Forcas gestured to the quill with a floating hand and then began jam it into his own shoulder. Ruth felt the stabbing pain intensify and let out a cry as her own quill was being used to hurt her.
“Do you understand now?” Forcas asked, oozing with contempt.
Ruth felt her vision go white again as a floating fist slammed into her. Forcas let out a grunt from the blow, his head recoiling.
“Shared pain,” “S’yliska determined.
“Who can hold out the longest?” Forcas taunted.
Ruth held up her shield, deflecting a strike from his fist. The fist floated back around, slamming into Forcas’ own head, sending Ruth reeling to the ground.
She shielded herself again. She felt no end to the rain of punches and blows, even with her mental barrier up. Forcas was raining blows upon his own body, crushing down on Ruth.
“How? Simple kinetic damage should do nothing to us!” Maw whined.
Angel? Remember? Not. Simple. Ruth replied between each blow.
Her vision swam, her body shrieked in pain, even with her borderline pain immunity due to a decentralized cell and nervous system.
“Ruth, I’m sorry. I wish I could be of more assistance,” S’yliska said with regret.
Less talking. More thinkin-
She blacked out.
Ruth didn’t know how long she was out when she came to.
She thrashed out on instinct, talons, quills, limbs, and claws shot out in all directions.
Her flesh flowed to normal as she stood, the pain easing away to the recesses. She glanced to the one who saved her.
Diniel sported several new quills embedded in his torso.
He stepped in closer, pressing his finger to her mouth. He silently wagged his finger before pointing to Forcas.
She glanced at the angel, seeing him flex his four hands in frustration before vanishing. She had spotted a green pie floating above his head, half full.
Whatever Diniel did, he cut the Soul Yoke from her. He gently pulled the quills out in a single stroke, handing them back to her.
“T-thank you,” Ruth replied, feeling remorse at her loss of control. She glanced at the strange glowing green pie above Diniel.
What is that?
She had little time to think as they faced against the floating angel.
She gave a quick glance, witnessing Neon and Neon battling the angels.
Azazel was trying to intercept her but was thwarted by a very persistent Emerald being. The angel blurred, rushing as a bolt of light. Azazel stopped dead as Neon continued to block his way, standing in midair with hands clasped.
“Where are you going, half clap? We still have a lot to discuss. Like which of your organs will see the light of day first.”
Azazel sneered back at him, readying his blade.
His hand blurred, his blade striking out with rage. Each blow thundered as it cut the very air itself. Neon’s hands blurred as well as he deflected the blade one-handed.
“I cannot process what they are doing,” S’yliska stated, her voice trembling in awe.
She glanced to Barthin as he breathed more hellfire, the other Neon bathed in it as he slammed into Barthin’s waiting shield. His flesh flowed, shedding the ignited flesh and striking a strong right into Barthin’s face. The angel took a step back, his foot freezing before touching the ground. He stepped forward, recovering.
“Oh ho look at this guy! Join me, I always wanted a mobile engine!” Neon taunted.
Barthin responded with a jab of his lance. Neon grasped the blade tip, coiling it in green tendrils.
The angel released the lance, rushing forward with his side sword and slashing out. The very air ignited, leaving a hanging trail of fire. The fire hung in midair, refusing to go out. Neon had backed away, taking the lance with him. Barthin swung again, creating another stream of floating hellfire.
“You have more promise than half clap over there, let me tell you!”
Barthin breathed another plume of hellfire, obscuring the fight.
Ruth felt the copy’s gaze.
A crack of thunder announced some sort of attack as Neon vanished, appearing over to Diniel’s back. On instinct, the angel plunged the sword behind him, running Neon through. Neon grasped the angel around the torso.
And then fell back, suplexing Diniel to the earth, shattering the ground. Neon rolled him over, picking him up and tossing him to Barthin like a sack of grain. The angel pinwheeled to Barthin.
Neon cried out with a whooping laugh.
Diniel crashed into Barthin’s awaiting shield, the force was redirected and amplified, impacting the angel into a carved scar in the earth. Barthin rushed and lept, his sword leaving hanging flame trail in the air, his impacting the ground and melting the earth. Diniel had vanished.
“Barthin! Think of what you’re doing!” Diniel implored.
Barthin glanced behind, keeping his head on a swivel. Diniel was hiding in his blind spots.
“Who are you looking at?” Neon asked, breaking Ruth from her focus of Diniel’s fight.
She turned and her vision went to white swimming spots as someone punched her in the face. She felt the chitin and bone collapse, her face crushed.
She struck the ground hard, recovering quickly back to her feet. Neon cracked his balled fist, all nine fingers flexed as he casually walked to her.
“What was that for?” She shouted, feeling at her regenerating face.
Her very soul trembled upon seeing the aggressive act of her defiler.
“What? Can’t a father dance with his daughter?”
Ruth bellowed in anger at his casual penchant for violence.
She sprouted an armful of quills, firing them with a shriek at Neon.
He took the quills to the face, continuing to stride towards her.
She blossomed a dozen arms full of sharp blades of bone, twirling a deathly windmill of boney edges. Neon held out his hand, a bundle of tendrils formed, entangling each of her arms. His tendrils stretched, lifting Ruth up. She dangled entrapped but not powerless.
She struck out with a volley of psychokinetic lances, his head collapsed inwards from the massive blow, his neck snapping back. Ruth was freed, pulling away.
A single limb held onto her hand, gripping her in place.
Neon cracked his neck as he raised his broken head. Green shards of ancient queball chipped off, flaking to the ground.
Ruth was yanked by the lone hand, spinning her to him. She caught her balance, ramming a bone blade hand into his torso. Green blood flowed down the weapon’s shaft, no sound of pain or reaction was made. She glanced up at her torturer, seeing his skull was perfectly healthy. He smiled at her, unreadable.
She sank the bone blade deeper, twisting it.
“Where are those beautiful eyes?” Neon asked, feeling at the vents of her head.
She screamed at him, more boney arms formed from her back, skewering Neon and tearing him in half. The upper half flew, splattering to the ground. The lower torso backed up, stumbling around. The lower torso fell to its knees. Green tendrils formed and flowed, wrapping into a human-like figure. The tendrils morphed, regenerating him fully again. He glanced up from his knees, a smile plastered on his face.
“Marry me!” He barked with a laugh.
She glanced down, seeing a ring of emerald upon her boney blade. She ripped her own arm off, discarding the torn flesh like so much toxic waste. Flesh flowed, reforming the arm.
“Is that a no?” He asked, chuckling a laugh.
“I think only two will suffice,” Another Neon stated.
Ruth and the kneeling Neon glanced to the upper torso. It had regenerated into its own Neon.
He pointed a finger. The other Neon raised his hands.
A ray of jade reduced the other Neon to shrieking ash.
Ruth felt the heat of the ray and the melting slag. She saw the shadow outline of what was left of the kneeling Neon against the ground.
She caught herself hyperventilating. Any closer and she would have been gone as well.
Neon stepped forward, smiling the whole way.
I don’t know what’s going on anymore! Ruth shrieked internally.
Neon pointed his finger, tracking something in the sky. Another ray of jade reduced a floating hand to ash. Ruth heard the shrieking rage of Forcas as he lost one of his four hands.
“No cutting in! It’s daddy and daughter dance time,” Neon stated, chuckling with laughter the whole way.
“It’s all a sick game to you!”
“No, it is a reality changing game to me. I haven’t had this much fun since you came around, Mrs. LaChapelle!!”
“What did you say? I’m not married!”
“Oh I beg to differ.”
His mouth went flat, his tone serious.
His voice dropped. It assaulted her mind as she buckled to her knees.
“You said I do.”
“You fell in love with me. You carry our daughter. That makes me husband.”
“I would never love such a loathsome demon such as you!” Ruth bellowed, spraying an unending torrent of quills.
Neon brushed his hand across his body, scattering the embedded quills aside. His composure unbroken.
“I birthed you from the mother womb of agony, hatred, and a tube vat. The destruction of your friends, those who you considered family was the milk that I used to nourish you. That makes me your father.
“No…” Ruth cried back, her voice trembling.
“You lie!” Maw shrieked.
“Ruth, stay strong!” S’yliska added.
“I beg to differ, my children. I say only the truth. I made you what you are. I made you the horror that you are. Chimera. Mimic. Monster. Maw. I gave you life. I gave you purpose. I gave you identity.
Ruth buckled to her to the mossy ground, curling into a fetal position from his dominating presence. Each word was a thunderbolt to her mind.
A hand gripped Ruth by the jaw, lifting her up.
She was forced to stare into his face, his mouth flat. His tone serious.
And then he smiled.
He guffawed at that. A shrieking laugh that carried for what felt like miles.
“Oh gods above you need to do better at calling out the melodrama! Relax and enjoy the show, you know?”
Nothing he said made any sense.
He let her go, spinning away from her.
“Switch!” He shrieked as he vanished with a crack of thunder. Ruth was pushed back by the wind displacement.
And then Diniel cratered the ground next to her, showering her in rocky debris.
“Diniel! I-…” Ruth began to say as Diniel got up.
Diniel shook his head as the emerald god assaulted Barthin once again.
“It can’t be. He can’t be… I don’t know what to do-”
Diniel silenced her with a hand upon her shoulder. He rolled his shoulders back, cracking his hands as he readied his blade.
Ruth translated instinctively.
“Not yet. Fight first, breakdown later.”
Diniel nodded as he readied his damaged katana scanning for Forcas.
Ruth felt her mind strained to fraying. She felt her other occupants were just as badly off. And the enemy still had more fight left. In Neon’s case,
It was infinite.