The focus shifts.

The cross is a long way beneath him, dark like blood

don't think of blood

on the pale floor

pale flesh

don't think of flesh

and it makes him think of swords.

"I want you to listen to me." The voice is like water bearing him up, warm against his skin, and it seems to seep into his flesh where the hooks pierce it. "Laurence, my son, my chosen one, Commander of the Hosts of Heaven, listen to me. We have a great deal to do. The world must be purged."

His lips are dry. "Dominic?"

Dominic? I dreamed that you had Fallen...

"Yes." The word offers safety.

"I dreamed..."

The cross before his eyes. The sword. His blood defiles it.

don't think of blood

"Come down and kneel before me," the voice says.

Again the fear sweeps over him - not Falling, but failure, to have failed in his duties, the demons creeping into Heaven, the blood in the Marches

don't think of blood

David's eyes... David's eyes as those hands shattered his sword, flung him down into the grass, the grasp of the earth as stone closed around him, legs, body, wings...

"You are my commander." The voice is rooted in certainty. He should recognise it. He should bow down before it and rejoice in the glorious light it promised. Take, eat, this is my body, this is my blood.

don't think of blood

The cross, the sword, is below him. He moves on the hooks that held him, screams as they rip into muscle and tendon. More blood flecks across the pale floor. Scarlet.

"You are not God." The voice is dry in his throat, and he can feel the hooks digging in further as his chest works. "God... I am the servant of God."

"You are my servant, the servant of God." The voice is like a warm tide again, rising up around him. "You are the champion." It is like David's stone, sliding up over mouth and eyes, trapping his wings mid-beat and arching against his back. "You know this."

It is like warm blood. He is going to drown in the blood.

"Deceiver," he spits, his voice painfully feeble.

It closes over his head, voice, blood, warmth, and the last thing he can see is the cross - the sword - below him. Then he is lost in a sea of hot fluid that eats away at him, offering him comfort because it's all that there is, certainty in the voice that echoes through him like the heartbeat, that fans the rage

righteous rage

stills the terror

fear the impure

offers him truth

believe me

is all the world

the world is blood, the world must be cleansed in blood

Steel is pure. Steel was forged to be pure, to be the servant of God. Words may shatter and fire may rage insane, but I am Laurence, I am the Archangel of the Sword and I will not be turned from my purpose and I will hold to my oaths. Because. They. Are. What. I. Am.

The blood seems to fall away from him like the crest of a wave, and he is abruptly conscious of the pain in his throat, hoarse and raw. Discord knots itself round his heart again, deep where he can't touch it, can't tear it out of himself, rid himself of its taint. Bound into him like his chains now, deeper than the hooks through his wings and flesh.

don't think of blood

The hooks tighten another notch in him.

The focus shifts.

"I want you to listen to me."

Flaming edge graphics from Our Domain Gallery of Graphics
The "In Nomine" and "flaming feather" graphics are
(C) 1997 Steve Jackson Games, Incorporated.
Used with fnord.