Part 1 - Seperation - 1794
It was in Paris, July 1794, when Jelial, as I knew him, was taken from me.
The War, both the French Revolution and the War itself raged around us. We believed we were untouchable, even by the Reign of Terror, as we had been for nearly a century. Our secret love, I spoke in the dead of night when we touched each other, would sustain us through all things, get us to the other side where things would be better and we could be together in peace. Jelial looked into my eyes, and I told him I promised to love him for that night, and his eyes would gather tears.
But time caught up with us. Jelial was firm in his role as a soft spoken French Aristocrat playing philosopher. He loved the art and the majesty of the written word, as he manipulated what he perceived to be the Symphony into poetry. His love wore into me, grafted itself onto my soul in a permanent dance.
Myself, dark, lithe, and beautiful, confident in the body I had worn for decades which mirrored my own true self, playing the daughter of some wine maker or another, an outsider of little notice from Burgandy who knew not to expose herself anymore then necessary, a country girl of no note. I was reveling in the Role, it was easy to get what I needed done with little muss, and it was such a romantic time, with war and anger and terror being taken to the arms of a convenient mistress, especially the disenfranchised frightened bourgeoisie who needed to be consoled and convinced they would lose nothing, including their lives. I played my games with them, and enjoyed their warm hot fleshy bodies and gave them the imaginary security they felt they needed in return for my own stability and comfort. And in between, there was Jelial, who made promises in the dark to take me away from my life and pain and show me the splendor of Heaven.
I did not know. I did not know anything. I was such a fool.
Jelial, beautiful as he was, had made the mistake of speaking up against the cruelties of the war once too many times. I did not know he had concerned himself with politics. I did not know he had foolishly opened his mouth. He could not lie, but he left out things I wish I would have known.
On that evening in late July with the air filled with the smell of lilac and lily of the valley, I walked into the manor with an armful of freshly picked flowers and new Geases, only to see he whom I believed I loved being led away in chains by angry looking men in smeared armor and dirty faces. I was pushed aside, of no consequence, warned that, should I interfere, it would be my head as well. Jelial smiled and winked as they hauled him past, to be shoved into a stinking oxcart and taken to his public humiliation and subsequent death. I swore I detected a Need that was more then the human need for pain, blood and gratification, but I have never been sure. I stood on the side, stunned, wondering what was going to happen to me, to us, while I watched. The flowers lay dying, scattered on the floor, as I stood alone in stunned silence. The rain pattered on the rooftop.
The Game was played, and it had been brought to our doorstep. I knew I had been caught, and this was the price I was going to be forced to pay.
I schemed. I paced. I dreamed there was a way that I could save Jelial the pain of the trauma to come. A thousand times I planned daring rescue attempts, so incredible it would be recounted in tales which would be related through the millennia. I imagined I would break into the prison where he was held, and take him into my arms. He would save my soul and lean over and tell me he loved me. I would be redeemed and miraculously become Bright, freed from my bonds as a slave to my Master. We would ascend to the beauty of Heaven, to live in eternal bliss.
This story went around and around in my head, so much I went and actually stood outside the prison. There was so much pain in there. The eyes of the people I saw had maddening Needs to be freed, for blood, for vengeance they believed they were entitled to. In the end, I was a coward. I could not do this alone, and while I knew of others who were in Paris the same time as I, I neither trusted them nor knew them on sight. At worst they would be inside the mad political machine, feeding off the misery like overgrown Celestial leeches attached to a vein. I could almost see the sea of souls leaving the unholy building, marching in lockstep to Belial's burning pits in Hell.
I couldn't do it. I was not living a fantasy. I was living a nightmare.
Three days later I stood in the small crowded square before the Conciergerie, shoulder to shoulder with dirty, angry Parisians, come to see the spectacle about to be performed on the large platform before them. The pure lust for death from the human souls surrounding me was almost intoxicating. I was pushing my way to the front, wild-eyed, foolishly believing I could stop this madness at the last moment like a poor passion play heroine, every touch to human flesh bringing a new sensation of Need for agony and the hot rush of vengeance.
When the yell of victory went up over the crowd, I turned and stared as they pulled my beautiful Jelial on a cart, bound, through the small square. He was proud and beautiful even as the crowd began to jeer and throw rotten vegetables, smearing his clothing and his pure white skin. I watched, frozen in place, as they pulled him off the cart, and held him upright as they cut off his long beautiful hair. Then they hauled him up the platform for the last dance.
Jelial stood, still proud, and stared at the masses down before him. As they bound him to the sledge, he stared down at me through is clear blue eyes, then at the crowd. Then he announced in his clear voice, "I die today for your sins!" But he was only received by jeers and catcalls from those who were near enough to hear. They lay him down and positioned him beneath the blade of the guillotine.
I stood there, paralyzed, daring not to spend Essense, not to reveal myself in a crowd which may contain enemies of various forms who had come to watch with amusement. I could hear myself, somewhere distantly, screaming and crying as I was pushed against the base of the platform by plump sweaty women stinking of garbage. In my head, the mantra was recited that it was only a vessel, only a vessel, a few days in trauma and he would be good as new. But I didn't believe it. I only believed the screams.
I wanted to run. I wanted to rush the platform. I did nothing as I watched in horror as the executioner ran the rope to raise the blade. Then there was that pause, that stretched to infinity. I remember, in those few last seconds, how Jelial was adjusting himself to get more comfortable, since apparently a rope was pinching. Then the executioner pulled the handle.
I felt droplets of warm blood hit my face. I looked up in response, and the executioner was holding the head aloft above the crowd, and they were cheering. The lust surged, the need fed. Hands were stretched above, hoping to get to touch the head. I stared, eyes open, the screams ripping from my body in endless torrents. Then the head was dropped down upon the crowd, and the fat women reached out to it, hoping to encase their pudgy fingers in horrid totem of magical healing and potency. I felt it rapidly cooling spray as they passed it above me, splattering my hair and the front of my dress.
Around me, my own Symphony cracked and wailed in response to the contortions of my keening soul. I screamed, and it responded in kind. Dissonance formed, and settled like dust into my being, transforming itself into discord at a fantastic rate. I felt my mind clouding, my senses becoming numbed. My world swam, my person was being destroyed.
But it mattered not, for I had lost my beautiful seraphim, who was going to take me away from the madness, which was now wrapped around my mind and had no evidence of leaving.
When eyes turned towards me, with the thought in mind that maybe more then one execution would take place on this day, I felt a strong hand wrap around my upper arm. "I believe you've had just enough," the sibilant voice whispered into my left ear, just loud enough for me to hear and override what was coming from me in sobs and gasps. "It is time, Daimonique, to go home."
And I went.
Part 2 - The Time Inbetween
I don't remember much of the time in between except for a haze of punishment and duty, but less then ten years later, I was back on the Earth, mostly discord free except for the one present left as a reminder, one rank lower, but more powerful in my own way. I worked jobs, spread the Word of Lust and my own newly earned power. A century later my services were traded in a haze of mad bartering from the incoming of new Demon Princes for three less demons and a pact of truce. A trade which changed my life for the better.
I swore never to love again. But I broke that vow many more times. It's always different. It's nothing like Jelial. All of them are of the forbidden sort one way or another, but I think it's a little more acceptable now then it was back then. The rules have changed a bit as the world has changed.
So what happened to him? I'm not entirely sure where the years took him. I know he was seen again on the Earth around the mid-1850's sometimes, appearing again in Europe, this time in Britain. He was a poet, I think, or some kind of journalist. We shared a few letters, but he was distant, and he did not seem interested in renewing the relationship. He made nasty comments about demons and knowing how to deal with them. It was over one hundred fifty years later when I really found out what ultimately became of my beautiful seraph who was going to take me up to Heaven and show me the wonders and purity of the cosmic Symphony.
Part 3 - Hell - 1987
I walked the streets of Shal-Mari, navigating its twists and turns with practiced ease. The alleys between the theaters and the bordellos we walked, me off in a haze of a new project, my sister Malik prattling about her newest lust affair, some Impudite who worked for the same Prince as herself, but who she assured me I would just love if I met him. The souls around us pushed, tried, manipulated each other in a futile attempt to get that last little piece of satisfaction that would allow them to feel a little fulfillment, that little piece which would never come. We ignored them, as we always did.
A gun went off. There was some arguing from a floor above us, and a fight broke out. Some glass shattered in the distance. There was a couple copulating madly in the shadows. Someone cursed. I felt it just needed a little wallpaper, and it would be perfect.
"...the problem," I said, more to myself then to Malik, who would listen politely anyway like she always did and had done through the centuries, "is that the Boss is getting more and more into this irony thing and satire, and just getting too black for his own good. And it's wearing off on everyone else, you know? We aren't vampire goofballs, like some sort of crappy B movie..."
We were stopped on the street by a small horde of Imps announcing that we make way for a very important messenger from a Prince. Since I make way for no one in my home city, I leaned over, and grabbed one in one well manicured green hand as it walked by and tried to shove me out of the way, lifted it, and shook it, eye level.
"I don't think so, little one." I shook him a bit more for effect, and his head bobbed up and down. Then I looked up and saw the dark cloaked figure moving towards me down the street at a slow but definite gait, walking with purpose, peering from the darkness with the three neat rows of eyes. He worked for Malphas, I guessed, from the markings of his cloak. I dislike Balseraphs, especially those of Malphas, although its sort of a dislike in general. I felt irritated, wondering why the Boss felt the need to deal with these people, and in turn, making us deal with them. In particular, making me deal with them. I made a mental reminder to make a little mention next time I remembered where the Guildhall for us Sisters actually was.
I stood in the middle of the street, twitching Imp in hand, ready to face down the Bal. It came alone, so I was convinced it was low ranking and I could probably take it if it came down to it, although fighting a Daughter of Lilith in the streets of Shal-Mari was a quick way to have one's forces spread thinly throughout the cosmos in a very short amount of time. I kept in mind, though, a new Balseraph was one who was eager to try out its new found talents, now that it wasn't constrained to the pomp and circumstance of its earlier existence, and it could do anything. Except, of course, tell the truth.
"This yours?" I asked, holding the Imp out, giving a friendly grin of perfectly aligned pearly pointed fangs.
It slithered its way nearer, so that it stood not ten feet from me. There was silence between us as we faced each other down in the street, the cacophony of the dirty streets melding into background noise. Malik pulled a little on my jacket, signifying she was uncomfortable.
The Bal was either trying to assess me or trying to decide how to speak to me. Finally, after a fat hanging silence, it spoke. "I am looking for your Master. I carry a message."
I shifted weight to one leg, brushed the telltale crest of my Boss nonchalantly on the brest of my jacket, the one under the Knight's bars, and made a big show of looking annoyed. The Bal was certainly a newly Fallen, his language was thickly accented. "I bet you're talking about my Boss. There is a subtle difference between him and my Master. I'll tell you what, if you can find him in this mess, why don't you tell the rest of us, okay? We'd all like to know. Although there is-"
The Balseraph had come forward, and stood within breathing distance. I was feeling hynotised, and what I imagined as blood pulsed in time to an equally imaginary heartbeat. I was feeling Malik's discomfort. And it finally said, "Daimonique?"
I stopped short, and the wise ass grin that I wear as a matter of habit disappeared from my face. I squinted at the being, wondering if I recognized this guy or not.
It came just that much nearer, and paused. Then it finally said, "Now we can be together..."
I started to feel recognition claw at the back of my mind. "Do I know you?"
The Balseraph nodded slowly.
I dropped the Imp and backed up. It landed with a squak and scampered off into the trash on the side of the street, cursing me and swearing it would tell someone. I could feel Malik's nervousness behind me and slightly to the right. I shook my head. "This is real funny. Really ironic. I get it. This is another one of those pranks that keep going around, and someone thinks it would be funny to hit me with the cream pie this time. But I'm not going to fall for it. You know, you're a funny guy. Working on a new toy or something?" I waved my hands before me, like trying to ward off a bad smell. "Take your camera crew and scram before I take you apart."
It spoke again, that eerie voice that Band possesses in their Celestial form, soft and reassuring and terrible all at the same time. "Don't you recognize me, Daimonique? I certainly recognize you. You don't look any different then when we were last together."
I stopped, and what was bothering me in the back of my mind made itself known. "Oh no, you lying bastard," I said, my voice shaking, recognition dawning, although the form was changed, twisted from what I remembered. Malik was becoming more uncomfortable, and she's rarely uncomfortable with anything. "Oh no. It doesn't work this way. Sorry."
"Dai?" Malik asked. I shooed her away with my hand.
I could feel that the Balseraph was pleased. Of course it was pleased. He works for Malphas now. It promotes hate and anger, divided factions, in it's own special way. And it was doing it in it's own home turf. I didn't need it happening to me.
"It doesn't end this way, dammit," I hissed through my teeth.
It came closer, wavering. I could feel it laughing at me, mocking me. "But its already happened, and it will happen to many more of my kind. Accept it, and we can be truly together."
"Fairy tales do not end by the hero becoming the troll, do you hear me, motherfucker?" I was angry, so I was yelling. I always yell now when I'm angry. I would think it was discord, but it's the wrong sort of discord. My voice bounced off the walls and the broken glass storefronts. "It doesn't end that way! It doesn't because I say so!"
"But..." it hissed at me, knowing that it had me, "I still love you... I did this for you..."
A lie. It was a Balseraph. It cannot love. It can only lie. My head spun. I grabbed Malik's hand and fled.
She followed me in silence as I ran through the streets of Shal-Mari, trying to get the feeling of being dirty and tainted off of my skin. There was no distance that seemed far enough, nor any twist of the street strange enough to get away from that thing that was once my true love.
We ducked into a theater on the City's heavy red light district. I couldn't remember when we crossed the line between Kobal's and Andrealphus's areas, but we were in it now. I slid into a seat in the back row, my sister sliding in next to me. Imps in the rows below us were yelling and throwing popcorn and JuJu Bees. On the screen was some strange movie which would eventually take a turn towards the pornographic, with some older man seducing a younger girl by telling her it was okay to have sex with him at her young age. I knew this plot, or at least the varients, where he would seduce her, and give her AIDS or get her pregnant or something. Not one of the Boss's best pieces.
My breathing was coming rapidly. Malik put her hand on my arm. "Is there anything I can do?" she asked.
I didn't look into her eyes. "Malik..."
I stared at the black floor at my feet. I swallowed. "I don't think there is a God. If so, why would He do this to me? To us? It's not like I went up there and gave him the finger." I paused, thinking. "It's all a big lie. A big scam. Like God is a big Balseraph. I don't even think there's any real point in redemption. Why bother?" I sighed.
"Because without it," Malik said softly, "we don't have any hope."
"I think Lucifer just runs the whole show. The Great and Secret Show, I say." I dropped my head in my hands.
"Yes." She nodded in the dark. "I know he does."