Angel Silhouette/Good Intentions
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
In an early age of man, in a land the name of which is lost to antiquity, an angel appeared. He had been watching the people of the land and saw them struggling, so decided he would do them a heavenly service by helping them directly. The angel, one of the few grigori who did not lust after the daughters of man, disguised himself as human and did everything in his power to help the needy people of the land he had been chosen to watch.
Word soon spread of the stranger who brought with him only kindness and charity, who helped those in need and helped even the land, itself. Soon people began to call him their guardian angel, or just Angel, though they knew not the truth.
The years passed and the angel began to feel pride. Pride for what he was doing, pride that brought him to feel over-confident in the execution of his cause and worst of all, pride in himself. His pride and over-confidence blinded him and he began to inadvertently harm those he intended to help. His good deeds became good intentions, and when harm or misfortune replaced help and good will, all he could say was that he had meant well. Good intentions and meaning well could not heal the harm the angel had done, though, and the people who had once loved and praised him began to hate and slander him. It wasn't long before the embittered peoples began gathering in secret to voice their discontent to each other, reinforce their hatred, and find focus for it.
All of this went unnoticed by the angel, his world was rose-tinted and everyone still loved and praised him. Even when the people castigated and shouted at him, he was oblivious; he would smile and continue trying to help as if nothing was wrong. His clouded world was soon cleared, though, when the mob formed and their combined hatred shone like a fiery celestial beacon. It was so bright and so hot that it burned away his human façade and cast a long, dark shadow behind him. The angel's shadow did not leap or flicker as a shadow normally does; instead, it did something that no shadow had ever done: It stood up.
The shadow was a pitch black duplicate of the angel, as would be expected of any shadow, except that it was taller and broader. Its eyes seemed to weep an icy mist and glowed a cold, cold blue; a glow that penetrated and chilled the soul. The only other difference was that, while the angel wore a sword on his hip, it did not; a difference it soon changed.
In one smooth motion, it reached forward and slid the angel's flaming sword from its scabbard and struck him down with it. It caught him by the back of the neck as he fell and lifted his dying body into the air, pulling the the golden crown from his head as ice formed around its black gauntlet. The angel struggled feebly, he pulled futily at the fingers with one hand and tried to reach the sword hilt that protruded from his back as the ice began to form around his neck. Ice spread rapidly over the rest of the angel's body and turned opaque, like a macabre snow sculpture, even the flaming sword had been engulfed. There was a creak then an explosion as the shadow tightened its hand into a fist. Through its fingers, the flickering light of the angel's very being could just barely be seen as it clenched its fist tighter, crushing the soul into oblivion.
The mob had gone from anger and hatred to shock; and when the shadow looked up from its fist towards them, the shock turned to stark terror. They turned to flee, but there was no unified decision on the direction and it turned into mayhem. The people who once had a single focus and single mind, now no better than domesticated stock, pushed each other down and trod upon the fallen.
The shadow gazed down at its fist, there was no curiosity for why it had crushed the angel's soul, it knew. It burned with hatred, fear, jealousy, rage, blood lust, and wrath; yet there was a cold inside of it, and nothing, nothing at all. It was an emptiness that could be seen in its eyes; an emptiness that did not hunger for souls, did not desire them, but pulled at them just the same. It was an emptiness that was the end for souls, an oblivion that promised an end to existence for any soul that gazed into it.
It looked up from its clenched fist at the gathered mortals, their souls recoiling in horror, all calling out to it for obliteration. It had felt their anger and hatred before and felt the power that it brought; it now felt the same power as it drew in their fear and selfishness and it hated them for it. The crowd began to scatter and rage, hatred and blood lust that created it surged over its body and launched itself like a meteorite into the crowd.
That night it rained fire and ice upon the land. By morning, nothing remained but ash; the land was empty, voided of both life and souls. Clouds of ash, stirred up by a mournful wind, swirled around the only remaining entity. It stood, stone still, contemplating what to do next. It came to the slow realization that something was still out of place. It looked down. Still clutched in its right hand was the crown it had stolen from the angel, it gleamed in the morning light. It looked to the sky, then back to the crown and slowly lifted the it to its head. Its world flashed as the golden crown merged with the shadowed crown and it fell to its knees. It slumped and its world went dark.
The world swam into view. The shadow tried to blink away the bleariness in its eyes with no success, it raised a hand to its head and realized why. It wondered how long it had been since it had fallen unconscious; it gazed up at the light breaking through the surface of the water. It rose to the surface and lifted itself into the air with an unnecessary flap of its wings. The sea had reclaimed the land; in the distance it could see land and made to fly towards it but stopped.
Something had been tugging at its mind since it awakened, something it had been ignoring until just now, something that it knew was linked to this new weight resting upon its brow. It had new purpose, a new meaning for its existence, and it felt it had the power to accomplish it.
Peter felt a disturbing presence and turned to see an angel silhouetted against the portal to earth. The shape seemed familiar, but he couldn't quite make out who it was; it turned and approached him. He squinted against the light to see if he could make out just who it was, but even as it approached, its features remained dark. Dark except for its crown and its eyes; as Peter looked into those eyes, he came to the realization that this entity may not be an angel, fallen or otherwise.
"Who are you, what are you doing here?" Peter asked, bravely, though he was shaken to the core.
"Where is God?" It asked.
Peter felt the icicles hanging on each word. "He is all around us, now who are you and what do you want here?" He asked, less shaken, now.
The shadow closed its eyes and touched its forehead, "I know that... I want to know where its core is, I would have an audience."
"That is impossible," Peter grew annoyed, "you cannot expect to simply stroll in and ask to have God's full attention. Even if he were not resting-"
"Resting?" The shadow interrupted, raising a non-existent eyebrow. "God rests?"
Anger edged into Peter's voice, "This goes no further until you identify yourself!"
The shadow raised its hand, palm facing Peter.
"Either tell me-" Peter froze mid sentence, encased in jagged ice.
Turning from Peter, it raised its other hand and the pearlescent gates flew from their hinges and landed, warped and flaming, beyond. The shadow strode in through the now open gates and balked at what it saw. It blinked hard, showering its face with tiny snowflakes, awed by the stunning vista. It stood on a high mountain plateu overlooking beautiful rolling hills, sparkling blue rivers and lakes, and the fantastic architecture of distant cities. It could see the tiny glints that were souls, calling out to be destroyed; its eyes narrowed. Hatred and anger seethed around it, manifesting as flame writhing around its body.
The sky above heaven darkened.
The souls of Arcady looked up, they had seen darkened skies before, but not like this. Yellow-orange flashes danced across the clouds, as if the sky were on fire. Some ran, frightened, into the nearest building while others stared, bemused, into the sky; none knew what was to follow. Then the rains came: Freezing sleet came down in sheets, chilling the souls to the core and covering everything in ice; spears of molten rock followed, coating the now icy souls in flame that penetrated the ice without melting it.
A single figure strode through the mayhem untouched: An angel, completely black but for eyes and crown. As it passed, it left nothing behind; the wondrous pires and arches fell, leaving not a trace of their existence. The souls, seeing an angel in their midst, reached out to it for help and, one by one, it would end their suffering and their existence.
The Cherubim appeared above the city and took in the horror that was once Arcady. In its center there was nothing, an empty black void, and it was expanding in a slow spiral. They descended quickly to investigate and hoped that they need not disturb the Seraphim. They arrived at the edge of the void and saw the ground and buildings crumble and disappear as it consumed them. Ahead of the void was something equally unexpected; an abomination in the shape of an angel that walked a slow trail of footprints that ate away at the very ether of the plane. As they approached, it could be seen destroying a soul that had once been a resident of the city, they drew their swords and swooped low to intercept it.
"Cease!" shouted Gabriel as the rest of the angels formed a perimeter before the shadow. Gabriel opened his mouth to speak again, but his question was answered the moment he looked into its eyes. The angels exchanged glances and Marou departed to summon the Seraphim. Returning his full attention to the shadow, Gabriel addressed it again, "We are aware of what you are, monster, and your grim purpose. Your path of destruction ends here," he bluffed, "you cannot overcome us."
The shadow narrowed its eyes, attempting to read through Gabriel's lie. It wanted to take a moment to weigh its options but its reason was overwhelmed by its rage and necessity to destroy.
"You shall all perish at my hands!" it shouted, and flung its hand open toward the angels blocking its path. They scattered to avoid spears of ice and flame, flying quickly out of range; all except for two. Aradiel and Bethor lay before the shadow, pierced by the ice and burned by the flame, they were not moving. It moved over to Bethor and lay a hand on his chest; the angels watched stoicly, knowing that any emotion they felt would only be used against them, all they could do was wait for the arrival of their betters.
The shadow had just moved to Aradiel when the Seraphim arrived, each with their six wings unfurled. It only took them a moment to absorb details of the situation and decide on a course of action, but it was not soon enough to save the fallen Cherub. They called out the shadow's name, their many voices sounding as one, and it fell to its knees. As they descended to form a new perimeter around the shadow, the flames eating away at the city flickered out as a candle snuffed by a breeze and the ice began to recede. Metatron approached the shadow alone.
"We pity you, monster, for you are blessed with a mind but cursed with an unswerving purpose." As he spoke, the void behind the shadow began to slowly close. "We are disappointed that one such as you can only want for destruction and oblivion, and it saddens us what we must do." He kneeled before the slumped shadow and placed a hand on its shoulder, "I want you to remember, monster, that we will always love you." He leaned forward and embraced the shadow, "Because even you are God's cherished creation."
With that, Metatron stood and Michael approached them carrying a golden chain. Taking the chain from Michael, Metatron spoke softly to the shadow, "With these chains you shall be bound to the mortal plane. They shall anchor you to the physical realm and with them you shall become corporeal."
"Wh-" was all the shadow could manage. It wanted to struggle, to fight; instead, it simply slumped as the chains were wrapped around its body.
Michael kneeled before the shadow to look into its eyes, "This is not something we do with joy, shadow, it is something simply something that must be done." He placed one hand on the shadow's shoulder, holding a lock in his other. "Once this is done, your power will be gone. The chains cannot be removed or broken, and the only key to your lock will be in your heart should you ever have one. We hope to see you again, shadow, when you are no longer a monster." He placed the lock on the shadow's chains and closed it.
The shadow fell backwards, weighed down by the chains, and lay on its legs. The ground cracked beneath it and the shadow's armor groaned. Icy tears began to roll down its face; it was weeping. For the first time in its existence it felt sadness, and it knew that it was the greatest pain that it would ever feel.
Above the fallen shadow, the Cherubim bowed their heads and placed their hands together, the Seraphim furled their wings, covering their eyes and feet.
"Farewell shadow angel," spake Metatron, and the ground gave way.
"Was it wise sending it back to earth?" Asked Zophiel. "Won't it simply do there what it was here?"
Jehoel spoke. "It is the one place where it can do the least harm. It is also the only place that it may learn and grow, and the only place where it can overcome what it feels is its purpose."
As the angels began to depart Zophiel gazed at the now shrinking hole the shadow created when he fell, "One can only hope."