Sunday, March 1, 2009

Respite and Revelations

They crept closer, the moldering dead. From every field, from every hill, from the forgotten graveyards and the family lots for miles around, they came. Called by dark power and tasked to a darker end, they shambled forward. Constantly moving, rotting in the midnight air, killing anything they came across. Warm feasts indeed for cold flesh, but not the prey they sought.

That was ahead. That was where they were going, bony claws flexing in mindless anticipation of the slaughter to come.

"One wrong move, angel, and you're gone." He said it while staring down then edge of his favorite sword. Graceful, deadly, indignant Aria, shrieking in celestial tones at the hateful feel of his hand around her hilt.

The newcomer to the little shack he had been hiding in just smiled and stepped out of the shadows. "Haven't we had that dance before?"

"Uziel?!" The surprise in Matt's voice was apparent as was the waver in his stance. He had only just awoken from a recuperative sleep to sense the powerful energies of an angel nearby. This, just a couple of days after being bonded with his inner demon and the subsequent hunts that had harried him all the way to this remote corner of God Knows Where, USA, was not a welcome sight.

It did not help matters that Uziel was the only angel he had ever met that could handily, nigh easily, kick his ass and had done so the last time they met. Uziel was also the reason he had Stay, the archangel having basically assigned the little girl to him as a sort of living, marker-wielding parole.

"Look, about Stay…" Matt knew he had to talk fast. Uziel had said that if he ever lost the girl or sent her away his reprieve would be over. "I know you're here to kill me. If that's what you gotta do, then do it and get it over with. I'm not apologizing for saving her."

He was talking about the last thing to hunt him down, a necromantic creature called a bloodrider. A horse and rider called back from the grave, it was more than a match for him and if he had tried to fight the thing with Stay nearby, the resulting devastation would have killed her. Matt had made a choice, sending her to the one woman he knew would love and protect the blonde moppet as much as he did. If he had to die for that choice, so be it.

Uziel looked down at the battle blade in his hand and shook his head, his bald pate flickering as the shadowy tattoos around his brow started to move again. "I think I will let you live a little longer, hellsp…" Then a crooked smile creased his lips. "I suppose I cannot call you that now, can I?"

"So you can see it?" Matt asked, his sword still out.

"Oh, most certainly, Mathranael." The archangel sounded almost amused.

"What did you call me?"

Uziel moved deeper into the shed, closing the wooden door behind him. "Your new name, of course. A fusion like yours is rare and, if I am not mistaken, unique where one of the Seven Viles is concerned. But it is not unheard of with human possessed."

"Mind explaining it to me a little?"

"Call your ageless mother if you want a bedtime story. I did not come here to execute or educate you."

Matt leaned against the wall. It was more as a habit than anything else. He was not tired. To the contrary, he felt amazing. Every part of his body was vitalized; nothing hurt. He had never felt stronger or faster. In fact, with Incarnael's physical power and increased magical might, he might actually be able to take on Uziel and…

The archangel's sword came up, its point instantly coming to rest just under Matt's chin. "That is why I came here. To see what kind of beast Lilith's spell hath birthed. If you had not sent the girl away, we might be having a far less pleasant conversation right now."

Matt gulped softly, looking directly into Uziel's eyes. "I… all right." Hs grip on Aria weakened slightly. Fighting was so very not an option.

"You know you really should give up those blades. The Host only hates you more for keeping them."

Matt shook his head, careful not to slit his own throat on Uziel's weapon. "No can do. You know as well as I that once an angelic sword is wielded in combat against a foe, it can seek out that enemy anywhere he goes." He took a steadying breath. "I assume that's how you've been tracking me too. With yours."

Uziel's slight smile became an open grin. "You are clever. I was right to spare you." With that, the dark winged archangel sent his blade away, freeing Matt from its transfixing, almost fatal point.

"Not that I am not grateful?" Matt looked down and 'sheathed' Aria as well. It was a simple spell, bound into every celestial weapon at the time of its forging. They appeared when needed and when battle was done, they could be sent to any place, physical or extra-dimensional, their owner wished. In Matt's case, this meant Aria reappeared a moment later in a magical golf bag strapped to the back of his motorcycle. The bag held a lot more inside than it appeared, something his violent life for the last two years had made a sad necessity.

"But?" Uziel prompted.

"But why did you spare me?" Matt walked over and barred the door again. "You'll have to forgive me if I don't believe this was an act of mercy."

"More of that clever showing through." The archangel flexed his wings slightly and stepped a little closer. "I spared you because you have been a unique creature since the moment of your dire infusion with Incarnael."

"Right. I became a hellspawn."

Uziel looked dismissive. "No. Hellspawns are rare but they are pathetic. Hundreds rise every year and they get put down or burn out just as fast. No, you are a very special kind of beast, my young friend."

For some reason, being called Uziel's 'friend' made him almost as nervous as the presence of the archangel itself. He had access to Incarnael's memories now and from what he could recall, being associated with Uziel at all never ended well.

Matt sighed and found as much distance in the small shack as he could put between him and the angel. "Okay, I'll bite. What do you mean?"

Uziel seemed amused at the separation but did not give chase. He seemed content to stand in the center of the room, in the thin starlight trickling in from the whole in the old shed's roof. "Have you not been curious as to your longevity as a hellborne? Why you have lived so much longer than others?"

That got a shrug. "I've been too busy trying to survive to question it much."

After a slight laugh, Uziel continued. "Fair. Shall I tell you?"

"It's that or prove yourself a liar about not killing me by boring me to death." Such a remark was possibly suicidal but along with Incarnael's memories, Matt had also inherited the demon's immense hatred for angels. It was especially strong for archangels, though it helped that Uziel was not the one that had dragged him from the mortal world into the Pit.

"I will let that slide, boy." Uziel's smile was more dangerous now. "Considering we are in a sense blood relations, you and I."

Matt blinked. When one blink and a moment's pause did not clear things up, he did it again.

"I will explain. Your human last name is Engel, a long and distinguished moniker that was a title long before the language it came to you with ever existed." The archangel folded his hands. "It means quite simply 'angelic' and it was used to denote…"

Matthew's demonic memories churned forth the rest. "…the children of angels and mortals." There was a stunned quietude in his voice. That had honestly never occurred to him.

"Quite right. You are the many, many times removed child of a truly grave sin, one that should have gotten the angel involved banished from Heaven." Uziel smiled, leaving the rest unsaid. It was obvious he was waiting to see if Matthew would ask.

The archangel was not disappointed. "Okay, tell me. Who?"

"Now now, Mathranael. You want me to spoil the surprise so soon? You and I have so much to do together. Places to go. People to k…"

A heavy thud against the wall stopped the angel's words. Another shook the shed's one boarded up window, cracking what was left of its glass. Several more followed those two. In a few moments, it sounded like the building was surrounded, things pounding their way through its cobbled boards.

"What in His name is going on?" Uziel's sword flashed back into being as he turned to face the loudest sounds, muttering under his holy breath.

Matthew's mage sight confirmed his instant fear. "Nothing in God's name, I can tell you that. This isn't anything of Heaven. I'm seeing some serious necromancy." With a groan, he corrected himself. "More serious necromancy. Whoever called up the bloodrider is at it again."

"Back to back with me, Little Engle. If it is a fight they want, it is a fight they will have."

Matt moved fast across the room, Aria in one hand and Requiem in the other. He had just enough time to put his back to the angel's wings before the walls of the shack shattered inward and a putrid horde of the undead poured in, teeth and nails bared for blood!

"This is gonna hurt, isn't it?"

Uziel grinned at him, Matt's face reflected in his mirrored glasses.