PrologueMature

Melanie has always been curious of the Human World since her first contract as a child. As she ventures further from the portal bridging Hell and the Human World she encounters William, the Angel of Life. The two strike up a tentative friendship they think is secret, but both God and Lucifer have their ways of discovering what their children are doing.

Melanie

My first summon was more of an accident than anything else. 

I was young and the Summoner was disappointed with my childlike appearance. I mustn't have been much older than three hundred, if memory serves me correctly; the human equivalent being a six or seven year old. He had wanted to give his soul to an omnipotent Harbinger of Destruction to conquer his foes, and instead he unintentionally called forth a child.

That being my first time in the Human World, I was amazed as well as terrified. This human had ripped me from my mother's side; I had never ventured far from my mother and this was in an entirely different realm. 

At first I thought he was a demon, too, but his scent was different. Stranger, my mind screamed. Tears had been running down my face as I cowered from him, crying for Mama. Initially I held my breath, fearing the air would poison me. My lungs began to burn, feeling like they had been trapped by metal bands. Even though I knew I was the one preventing me from breathing, panic welled up inside me and I struggled not to take a breath.

The whole time I was doing this, the Summoner watched me with thinly concealed disgust, as though he was the superior being. He tugged on his ashen hair with one hand and flipped through the pages of a book with the other, muttering about everything being so "wrong."

 When dizziness threatened to over take me, I inhaled sharply. The air was crisp and light, not like the heavy smog of Hell. I took a huge breath of that cool air and then another. I looked up at the rich azure sky, the clouds fluffy and invitingly pure. Fear melted away and was replaced with something else.

Everything looked and felt so alive! It was too sunny for me, though, having been in the darkness of Hell for so long. I squinted my eyes and rubbed them, ridding them of any remaining tears. I heard birds chirping and squirrels scuttling about, chattering at each other. I had completely forgotten about my Summoner as I ran over to a flower patch and smelled the sweet flowers.

Of course, I wasn't there for long. After realizing his mistake, the human sent me back to Hell. I was a bit put off, being called and only to be forced back. Mother amended that quickly by buying me the hellhound I wanted and reading to me while I sat in her lap and played with her hair.

I was distracted, however, and she knew it. I kept thinking of the beautiful, bright world only a dimension away. I thought of the bluebirds and rich green grass, soft beneath my bare feet. Mother cautioned, "Do not venture back there, Melly-bean. There are dangers lurking there you would not even begin to fathom."

"Yes, Mother." I said dreamily, already plotting the next time I would go back there.

That taste of the Human World made me want to return, regardless of her warning. I burned to see that beautiful world, if only one more time.

William

I can remember the first time I met a demon.

I was a young boy with a group of Lesser Angels and one Archangel who had taken us to the Human World. Once you reached your fifth century of life, God permitted you to go with a supervised group to explore the Human World so you could get a feel of this strange world.

Everything was so colorful, unlike the blinding white and gold of Heaven. Furry creatures I had never seen before sniffed the forest floor and ran off as we approached. A little girl in our group squealed with delight when she saw a floppy eared creature. It slammed its foot on the ground in alarm before disappearing down a hole in the ground. She made to run after it but the Archangel, Lucas, lightly touched her shoulder. She froze under his icy touch and looked back at him sheepishly.

"I know the Human World is fascinating to you young ones but we must stay together. Danger lurks here." He said in his soft voice.

We all nodded and I couldn't help but feel scolded though I had done nothing wrong. Lucas ruffled my hair as he passed me. When I would grow up he would be my brother, my foil. Death cannot exist without Life and I would be the Angel of Life once my father decided it was my time.

We stopped at the edge of a village. Lucas held his arm out to prevent us from continuing onward.

He said, "You cannot detract your wings yet and humans are not yet ready for our existence."

We spent some time standing at the edge of the forest, peeking from behind the trees at the beings we were to love more than God Himself. I saw little humans no bigger than us running around, playing a chasing game where one of them was it. I saw adult humans talk and trade meat for loaves of sweet smelling bread. 

I saw the beauty in the humans and was almost blinded by it until I saw a human steal. Then, another human beat his wife. I frowned and looked at the other Lesser Angels. They looked just as horrified and confused as I felt.  We were supposed to love these selfish creatures more than God? I doubted in my heart I could do it, I found myself whispering to myself.

"Be careful, William; that was how Lucifer Fell." Lucas warned when he heard me. I dug my nails into my palms until I had little half-moon welts embedded into my skin. I didn't want to Fall like Lucifer and the other traitors. I didn't want to become-

"Come, little ones, let us explore the forest. I will tell you about the plants and animals that live in its depths." Lucas led us back into the forest, away from the horrible sights of the humans.

We admired the flowers and the fluffy creatures that wandered. We were told more dangerous, larger animals wandered deeper in the forest but none of us wanted to believe Lucas. We wanted to believe there was some goodness in the Human World, not more monsters. 

Tobias was admiring the a pretty red flower, stroking its silky petals with the very tip of his finger carefully. He sighed wistfully, "I love this flower. It's so beautiful."

I rolled my eyes. Tobias loved everything. I didn't say that, though; he was very sensitive and would probably cry. I nodded my head and touched one of the other flowers, a yellow one just a couple shades darker than the sun. 

Lucas suddenly tensed and looked over his shoulder. We mirrored him but saw nothing. Sulfur wafted into our nostrils and he barked, "Get back!"

A monstrous being lunged at Lucas from the top of a tree nearby. We shrieked and scattered. Noor went one way, Selena, Tobias, and Caedmon went several different ways. I remained where I was, frozen in terror.

There was almost nothing human about the creature Lucas threw off him. It had no nose or mouth, only angry, red slits for eyes. Its pointed ears swiveled forward as it crouched on hock-joints similar to a horse's.

"William, get out of here!" Lucas roared, his gas mask askew.

The monster turned to look at me and shook its head as though noticing me for the first time. The place where its mouth would have been suddenly opened, making a ripping sound. Yellow, dagger like teeth were revealed as it leered at me. It moved startlingly fast as it was upon me before I had a chance to blink. 

The force of its body slamming into mine knocked the wind out of my body. I had no air left to scream, even as I felt white hot pain across my throat. I brought my hands up and touched scorching hot skin. I screamed and tried to shove it off me as it sank its teeth deeper into my throat. Blood welled inside my throat and I choked.

"Lucas!" I gurgled pleadingly. Where was he? Why wasn't he helping me?

The demon gave a shriek then and its weight was lifted off me.

My memory escapes me after that. I woke up two weeks later in the infirmary with my mother hovering apprehensively over me. She sobbed when my eyes opened and Father called for a healer to check me out.

"What happened?" I had whimpered, throat sore and mouth dry.

Father brushed my hair back from my face as he explained, "A demon attacked you. It slit your throat before Lucas got to it."

I remembered the pain and subconsciously brushed my hand against my throat. I felt white gauze and sharp pain.

"Neither your or Luke walked away uninjured." Mother's tearful words grabbed my attention and I sat up quickly, ignoring the way the room spun.

"What happened to Lucas?" I demanded, my voice raised in panic. The healer's delicate work was strained as my voice rose above a yell.

Father placed his large hands on my shoulders and tried to get me to lay back down but I stiffened my spine. "Will-"

"No." A soft voice said from the corner. "It is fine."

Luke had been there the whole time, blending in with the white walls. He neared me and I felt my eyes widen in horror.

His wounds had healed but I was hard pressed to say the healers had done a good job. His right eye was milky, barely noticeable when compared to his white left eye. Three long, jagged scars ran from his forehead, across his right eye, and stopped beneath his jaw. One claw had caught the corner of his mouth on the right side, dragging the corner down into a perpetual frown. When he smiled at me that side remained down.

I tearfully apologized for not listening to him when he told me to move but he waved away my apology. "We both live. That is enough."

After that, he excused himself and walked out of the room. He had only wanted to stick around long enough to see that I was okay.

I thought of the dead demon and rage pooled in my belly. The lessons I had been learning began to stick as my mind conjured up the image of the demon. Before they had just been a concept, the monsters that hid under my bed. Now, though, they were all too real and I felt foolish for even likening them to the monsters under my bed.

Demons were much worse than that.

The End

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