Chapter 14 - Of Battles and Boxes

This was a heck of a time for reminiscence, but as Emmanuelle motored toward the Library to rendezvous with Greaves images of their childhood rushed through her mind.  In truth she felt guilty that her older brother was dragged into this side of the battle.  Out of some misplaced need to be overly protective, Greaves the clumsy scholar had unwittingly been catapulted into battle.

Nonetheless pictures of Greaves with a bloody nose when avenging someone who dared insult his little sister,  a handmade paper boat drifting down a solitary stream, the bed they shared as youngsters, all irrelevant reminders that the mortal peril he must now face was entirely of her doing.

Though it turned out to be the correct thing politically, her curiosity and its intense desire to be satisfied had only brought anxiety upon her.  The crash and thunder of swords meeting shields, arrows meeting armour, and screams rent from dying throats echoed around the castle from a yet to be determined location.  Greaves was not designed for this, he should be sat poring over books of poetry blissfully unaware that Jehovah was inherently evil, studying for nothing whatsoever and not being placed in such danger.

As she climbed the steps leading to the library a picture of her home came to mind.  Her Mother, her Father and her Brother crammed together in a three roomed cosy cavern on the outskirts of a decrepit shanty village so far from Babylon there were no roads except a small track roughly cut by the farmers leading mostly to the fields where there important grind was performed day in, day out.

All around her memory was obvious illustrations as to why she should have chosen a different side, signs she ignored, sayings that she refused to acknowledge, sights that she feared.  The complete poverty in which she and her family had forced upon them was so blatant, but as a child you never know that you ever do without.

Belial had spoken of her home, had described the horrors there that Jehovah had unleashed upon them.  But killing the village was nothing to the horror of keeping it alive.  Cattle attacked daily by ravenous wild beasts, crops ruined by hard winters and a scorching summers drought, bleeding fingers, calloused hands, sprained ankles, broken backs and the daily stench of sweat hung like a futile fog in the air advertising that this was a working community.  One with little productivity.

There was a blood patch on the floor.

How long had she been striding toward her destination?  This was the right route, right where Greaves would have passed.  The patch of blood gave her stomach an unnecessary jolt of fear that she smiled at her involuntary stomachs grim forecast.

But the stain was real, albeit without a body, had a body that lost this amount of blood managed to animate itself? 

True Angels and Demons were much stronger than the wriggling maggoty mortal creatures that inhabit earth, but a body empty of blood regardless of strength or mortality still cannot continue to thrive and apparently wander off for a leisurely stroll.

She was so enraptured by the vexing stain that she caught the movement in the corner of her eye too late.

Emmanuelle swung around and hefted her shield into an oncoming blow just in time to stop it meeting her chest.  The force of the blow jarred her arm and pushed her back against the wall.  Emmanuelle let her legs buckle so she could roll just far enough away.  As she leapt to her feet to face the perpetrator she saw that he hadn't moved and stood with a defensive posture as if ready to meet an attack.

Emmanuelles assailant, though alien to her was evidentally a Demon.

'Why are Angels killing Angels?'  The guttural voice rasped through rapid breaths.

'What?'

'You heard, why are your kind here slaying each other?'  The demon remained unmoving, a solid frightening statue leaking anger between each word.

'Who is here?  There should only be two Angels in this castle and I am one of them.'  Emmanuelle met his fierce gaze with a venomous stare of her own.

'You're one of Michaels order.  I can tell by your stance.'  It was frightening how physically controlled this Demon was.  Nary a blink, a twitch, nor even an involuntary deep breath.

'I was one of Michaels order.  I have a new agenda and you would do well not to stand in my way strange Demon.  I work with one of your own.'  Emmanuelle quickly changed her stance to emulate that of Belials.  It was easy to mimic his body posture after studying him during her brothers sparring match.  Her shoulders rolled forward and her sword lay horizontal just below her eyeline.  Her back leg was crooked as a runners would be in readiness to push off from the blocks.

The Demon relaxed a little.

'Who has slain who?'  E mmanuelle didn't relax in case the Demon was feinting.

'Gabriel slew some Cherubim weakling in cold blood.  The scholar stood no chance.'  The words were out of the Demons mouth, a pitcher of needle cold water delivered remorsely into the pit of her stomach.  The Demon noticed the reaction and the sudden stark grief that his tidings hit to full effect.

'You knew this man, you are both friends of Belial?'

Emmanuelles throat was frozen. 

'I'm Balthazar.  An ally of Belials in a sort of warped and regrettable sense.  Who are you?'

'Emmanuelle.  My god Greaves.'  She dropped her sword no longer caring whether this Demon had it in mind to assault her.

'Simon passed by and carried him away from the corridor.  From there he headed to the Library.  Now though I fully sympathise that you may have lost a friend or family member but surely the Angel getting to the library and procuring the items Greaves spoke of may actually make his death a moot point.  He died, do you want it to be for nothing?'

Emmanuelle threw her shield at Balthazar.

'He was my brother and no he shall not die in vain, but I need no lecture from you.  Belial has told me of all your misgivings.  We are here because you decided to cast them out.  On my brothers name you will stop trying to corner me with your weak, cowardly, power hungry observations and flawed motivational speeches.  On his blood we owe you no respect.'

Words wounded Balthazar more than any weapon could ever.  The scars on his face from Saracens little set to with him early began to itch as his guilt registered her angry tirade.  He halted her as she took a deep breath to spew more bile in his direction.

'I never understood the weight of my decisions til recently, but you can berate me later.  Accompany me to the library to catch Simon where you may acheive some measure of revenge.'

The End

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