From the Ground Up

Watch your step

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Middle Ground: Chapter Twelve

Beside Noel was who she assumed was Lily, or rather Lilim. The woman was busty and covered in very little. Her tight leather skirt was more like a belt than anything and the only thing that covered her breasts were the tiniest of bras. Her hair was long, dark and wavy; it cascaded over her shoulders, her seductive eyes roaming the crowd lewdly. Small black wings flexed in excitement.

 

The man to her left wasn’t much better, clothing wise. His blue-black hair looked soft to the touch and his body was a picture, perfectly chiselled muscles placed in all the right places to make a woman want him. His black leather pants sat extremely low on his hips. Blue eyes looked bored at the scene in front of him, until they rested on Athen who was basically laid at his feet.

 

Lastly the fourth figure just right of Noel, was very mysterious. The horns on his head resembled Ford’s in a way but they were longer and curled slightly at the end. They sprouted from short black hair that waved in a mussed way. His square jaw was set in a solid frown. What made Athen stare at him were the tattoos that played on his arms. She recognized them! The only difference between the man’s and the ones on Luke’s arms were that these extended up to his shoulders and down his back. That, and the fact that they moved; they were a living thing.

 

Athen forced herself to stand though the force still exerted on her made it hard to do so. She figured though, it was that force that allowed the demons to stay where they were, bowed on one knee.

 

"May I ask what is going on here?" Noel’s voice command everyone’s attention and Athen withheld a shudder, this wasn’t the father she knew.

 

"Father?"  Athen spoke, the crowd gasped collectively. She took a step forward even against the pressure that forced her back.

 

"Treason, Assassin, Kill her!" Athen heard but she continued.

 

"Squelch." Noel held up a hand and the jibs and roars from the crowd once again stopped. A quick glance of navy blue eyes to his four guards that now stood to the side of the quartet of royalty showed him they had no inclination to move. He trusted the four Marquis with his life and so he let Athen approach.

 

"Tell me, One Not From Hell. What is the cause of this uproar?"

 

"I am." The angel answered calmly. "The count you call Vatican, has called treason. Count Akefia, Zack, Mark and Joey, sorry Joseph, have been falsely accused of such." She unfolded her wings for the first time all night. The crowd gave a collective gasp and took a step back. "What is treason when I mean no harm? What is treason when I am as damned as all of you? What is treason when I sinned for love?" She cried of the crowd who had kicked up again. "Noel." She looked up into the man’s eyes. "Lily, Luke, Spence. What is treason when you call me family?" It took almost all of her power to don her human skin in such a place but she continued through the pain. "What is treason when I’m betrothed to your kin?" She released her human form and struggled to keep herself up. Hunched over she caught her breath.

 

"Athen?" The girl in question wavered on her feet but smiled nonetheless.

 

"Where is the Marquis they call Vatican?" Noel spoke loudly a large smirk on his face.

 

"Uncle." The demon walked through the crowd, crown gone, obviously blown away by the explosive energy. Black coal eyes glared daggers at Athen.

 

"Oh," Noel spoke, his face clearly amused. "Dear friends I believe we have a problem," The demon king threw his arm over Athen’s shoulder in a loose embrace. "Here I present you with a member of my family." Athen stood straighter, bravely facing the once-angry mob. "Do any of you wish to stand up to my family?" The smile on his face was sadistic, promising slow and painful torture for any of those who dare defy him. "No one?" He asked as the crowd hushed. "I thought as much."

 

"I believe, father, starting a mutiny is the highest form of treason is it not?" All boredom from Luke’s face was replaced by a mirroring look of sadistic intent.

 

"You’re right." The king nodded thoughtfully. "Friends, I need some help. Here in front of you lies Vatican who wishes to destroy members of my family. Please assist your king in getting rid of such vermin." The angry crowd was set off again. With a final glare, sensing his own destruction Vatican made to leave. The flying, crawling, slithering, and smoking of the loyal demon crowd behind him.

 

Athen’s knees decided to give out at that moment. No matter where she went out, she always made some sort of spectacle. Maybe Ford was right, maybe she should stay home.

 

"Let’s get inside; it’s been a long day." Joey suggested.

 

"Don’t tell Ford. No amount of seduction would let him forget this, and I’m not fond of that tower." Athen glared daggers at everyone around her.

 

"What are you doing here?"

 

"Better question is; why is she an angel?" Athen was in the throne room accompanied by Noel, Lily, and Spence. Luke, who Athen had discovered was the general of the hellion army, was off doing crowd control after the disaster at the festival.

 

"Well, I was always an angel." Athen smiled without any true mirth. "As long as I can remember I’ve been one. I don’t remember one moment of my human life. So I really cherish the time I had spent on earth."

 

"You look quite dark for an angel, and your wings are huge." Spence’s excitable nature never shocked Athen, even now as he sat on his throne small leather wings on his back.

 

"Yea, I have a theory about my looks." She whispered, though there was no real point as every member of the room could hear her with their enhanced hearing.

 

"And that is?" Lily asked perched in her own throne, legs crossed.

 

"What are my wings?" Of the few glimpses she caught of her wings she already guessed their makeup but she had to be sure. This was something she just didn’t want to believe.

 

"Dark grey with black tips." She frowned deeply.

 

"I’ve been doing some research lately, and I have come to a conclusion. The reason why my wings are grey and not black," The three demons were listening patiently. "Is due to the fact I’m a ‘demon-fucker’." She added finger quotes around the term."May I mention your books are crude?" The amusement was evident on their faces. The laughter started as a mere chuckle and evolved into a complete guffaw.

 

"You never answered my question." Athen looked over to Lily after the laughter had calmed.

 

"A mission. The whole reason I was even on Earth was to find the gate of hell." She said, laughing she continued. "I think it’s obvious that I succeeded."

 

"I don’t like it." Noel was talking to himself.

 

"Finally, I found you." Ford made his presence known as he blinked into the room "I’ve been looking all over for you all. Zack told me about the commotion in the festival." Athen froze. Damn that cat demon. "To think Vatican would try to rush the castle." She released the breath she was holding.

 

"I really don’t like it." Noel was still mumbling quietly. "Why would they risk a near certain execution for such a useless cause?"

 

"I also have a theory about that." Athen’s mood turned sour as she thought about the council and the realizations she made within her time of being a full ranked angel.

 

"Well?" They prodded. Athen prepared to do something she only had doubts if she could even do.

 

"I need to ask some serious questions." Athen snapped her fingers." Kiel?" She asked for the small angel as she asked she willed the angel to her. Black smoke appeared and in front of her there stood the small pink pixie-like angel. The clouds dissipated and Athen braced herself as her arms were filled with a sobbing mass of pink.

 

"Athen, you’re alive! When I found out about their plan, I-I I tried to warn you, as best I could. Then they sent me to the fourth dimension." Lily and Spence hissed their hate for the place and Kiel continued. "How are you alive? And look at you!" She released her hold on Athen and took a chance to look around the room. Blue eyes widened as they caught sight of the demons that surrounded her. "W-what is going on?" The angel was clearly scared out of her wits.

 

"Kiel, these people are the reason I’m still alive. That is Noel, Lily, Spence, and this is Ford. From earth remember?" Kiel took a step around Athen to look at all of them. She nodded noticing the clear resemblance between the demon and human. "Meet the royal family of hell." Athen finished introductions.

 

"Hi," The girl came from behind Athen and waved shyly. She got smiles and waves in return.

 

"What are you saying about the ones who sent Athen there?" Noel asked.

 

"The council. Athen they sent you here on purpose. They want you dead." Kiel answered.

 

"Why would they want to kill her?" Lily asked the question on everyone’s mind.

 

"Athen, you’re the fourth Seraphim." The room went silent. All of Athen’s speculations and fears were proved. She hung her head.

 

"I know, I’ve known for a few weeks now." She sighed, guilt taking over her.

 

"Sorry to disturb the climax of this twisted plot, but what in the fourth dimension is happening?" Noel jumped in.

 

"And what is a seraph?" Luke had sauntered in at the time it was revealed Athen was basically on her death bed.

 

"A Seraph is the highest rank of angel. Right now heaven is under the rule of three of them Light, Aqua, and Fire." Kiel explained.

 

"Okay, then what does that have to do with Athen?"

 

"I’m getting there. There is sort of prophecy that goes along with the Seraphim. Centuries ago, God was put into a very deep sleep. This of course is not the first time, but it has been one of the longest. After the ‘birth’ of civilizations and the last few miracles, God needed a rest. Remember in the human bible how it is said God will return to defeat evil. Well God’s return is all in the hands of the last Seraphim. Their angelic birth is the sign that something universe-destroying is in the making."

 

Athen looked away, her eyes hard. She didn’t care if she was being selfish; she was planning on leaving soon anyways. Just she wanted to enjoy herself a little bit more.

 

"I believe the council just wanted to keep their positions no matter the evil that would be released. Of course the best way to do that was to get rid of the fourth Seraphim, through death." Athen shuddered.

 

"I’ve heard of that prophecy though, doesn’t God’s return also come after the end of the world? He will destroy evil.” No one had noticed the appearance of Joey and the rest of the court guards. “Though, I also heard, you know who, makes her return as well with them being twins and all.” Joey said omnisciently.

 

"Mom?" Lily was clearly shocked.

 

"Yea. Sorry, Kiel, was it? There is more to your prophecy then your angel schools teach you." It was weird seeing Akefia and Joey in this new light. Athen had seen the older soul within Joey but Akefia as he spoke bore jaded wisdom that physically hurt Athen.

 

"At the beginning, as clichéd as that sounds. There were the twins. If you look up in the sky, they’re the constellation Gemini. They created the universe. From there, nature took over, and they watched, assisted when they needed to. It wasn’t until humans strolled along that they became interested in what their project was doing. Billions of years leaves one apathetic I would say. They watched the humans and noticed they had certain traits, those that were favourable and those that were not. When the life of a human ends, their body becomes one with the earth while their soul is sent to find a resting place." Athen listened with interest as did every other member of the room, though these were things that were common knowledge to demons and angels alike. The way Akefia spun his tale gave each a different impression on the actual story.

 

"As such heaven and hell were created. This was after the birth and death of Christ. Souls before that time, were either instantly reborn or floating around in the fourth dimension, the place of antimatter. To make the story short, or well shorter than it would be, I’ll spare the details. After the creation of new dimensions outside of the original universe, the twins needed a rest, only to return when the fourth Seraphim takes their seat above the clouds. Or something like that."

 

Athen felt beyond guilty, what if this great catastrophe happened right now. She would be the cause for the world’s destruction.

 

"I need to go back." She said suddenly. Her purple eyes were glowing with a dark light.

 

"They will kill you, haven’t you been listening?" Ford grabbed her by the shoulders.

 

"My life, compared to the existence of the universe. I think we all know the right choice." Athen smiled at the room. "Besides, I’ve been dying to test out my powers." Ford looked around the room for some sort of objection. Anything to help him to get Athen to realize her life was at risk.

 

"They’re going to have to try really hard to kill you, woman." The moving tattoos slithered along Luke’s arm in agreement.

 

"It’s unyielding then, shall we commence with operation invading heaven?"

 

"Ford, Athen will be fine, we’re all going with her and nothing, and I mean nothing is going to take my friend away." Mark said the glint in his purple eyes reminding Athen of why he was the scary one. "Right guys?" Zack flicked out his hands from his palms, silver glittering chains whipped the ground. So that’s why he rattled when he walked.

 

"Nothing I would like more, than to defeat some angel trash. Plus, I’ve missed Mom, but someone has to keep Vatican in his place, and, well, I have a bone to pick with him." Spence said, standing with a roll of his shoulders. Ford sighed.

 

"Might as well do this the right way. Joey get my sword." The dog demon nodded instantly blinking out of the room. "Well, my lovely dark angel, you’re going to have to lead us on this mission."

 

"I don’t know how to lead; I don’t even want to fight." The angel complained.

 

"Well, it’s your fight to fight. Your life is on the line. Not to mention the universe. I’ll be staying home with Spence to look after this place." Lily put a comforting hand on Athen’s shoulder.

 

"Fine I’ll do it, but only if you guys are all willing to fight with me."

 

"I’ve risked my life for less." In a survey of the room Athen saw no one backing down. If anything they were more fired up then before.

 

"Don’t get yourselves killed. Don’t die for me." Athen whispered. "I’ll never forgive you or myself if any of you die."

 

"In a heartbeat." Ford hugged her around the shoulders and Athen had no will to fight back. She knew she wouldn’t hesitate to risk her life if their positions were reversed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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