Red and silver bands of light, cast by a prism of blood and steel lit the way as they walked toward the gathering; an immortal, a midget and a giant.
Undeterred by the demonic hoard that awaited them, in fact urged on by the prospect of riding humanity of this unholy scourge, their pace quickened as their hands touched the steel and bone sheathed tightly to their sides.
They had searched him out and placed someone he had come to love in mortal peril. In fact it was his love that had exposed a mortal to the machinations of unfettered angels; angels cut adrift by heaven and hell.
Tears streamed down his face as anger boiled inside him knowing what lay ahead. As they neared the abandoned Palazoo and the music within grew louder he drew two blades, Damascus steel won in mortal combat from a Saracen prince so many years ago.
The pace was no longer a walk, but now a slow run that gained in speed. Slowly building, marshaling force, imbued with anger and righteous mayhem, they hit the ancient wooden door with the force of a hurricane blown tidal wave...and the battle was joined.
He had no reason to worry about his comrades. They had danced this dance of death before and so, blades working like scythes wielded by a maniacal madman, he worked his way through the demonic horde, desperate to find her, knowing deep down that it was too late but letting that knowledge fuel his rage.
They had known he was coming but that gave them no advantage. Angelic beings imbued with supposedly everlasting life fell by the dozens in his wake. Centuries of dealing death wrapped up in one human being driven by love wreaked havoc on a pantheon of demons and their lesser beings.
In the end it was as he knew it would be.
He had fought his way down a series of stairs, into the subterranean depths of the decrepit Palazzo appropriated by the vagabond angel Cyrus for his attempted snare, until he was standing in a cavernous room filled with the dankest, darkest vanguard of the fallen one’s followers. Armed with a satanic array of weapons gathered for the sole purpose of bringing Gaspar to bay they stood, to his momentary satisfaction, nervously awaiting his next move.
The sound of deathly silent footfalls on the stairs behind him gave him not a moment’s pause. He had lived with those steps for over five hundred years. The midget Sabaticus took up station on his right, his tiny sword covered in gore, while the giant Malamek eased by him on the left, the first rank of demons shrinking back in obvious fear.
A commotion in the middle of the horde arrayed before them erupted momentarily until Cyrus stood before the trio. A long dagger, Gaspar noticed that it dripped blood onto the stone floor, was gripped in his left hand.
“Welcome, Templar. You realize that you are too late don’t you,” the demon hissed.
Gaspar sensed the giant’s charge before the Arab had even moved a muscle and his hand shot out, restraining him.
“I knew the moment I received your messenger in my courtyard she would not live out the night” Gaspar answered. “I also knew that neither would you. This will be your end, demon; here in a stinking cellar in the realm of humans, a million moments away from the throne you once sat upon. In this place I will take your head and your heart, and any evidence that you ever existed will end here, now.”
The demon’s face betrayed his fear. He had marshaled his forces for one last attempt at grandeur. The chance to stride up to hell’s gate with the head of Gaspar in one hand and his soul in the other would have been his offering; the offering that would have bought his way back into his master’s graces.
He had gambled and broke all the rules. He had taken Gaspar’s woman and torn her to pieces knowing he would come for her. This was the moment he had orchestrated and now that it was here he realized the human was right; he would not live out this night.
With a cry of rage born of a thousand years spent basking out of God’s light in the deepest bowels of hell, and then cast even from that infernal place, he raised the dagger and propelled himself forward toward the human, his horde of followers moving as one with him.
He never felt the blade as it cut through his neck. He did though see the eyes of the human as he swung the blade. They shone wet with tears; tears an Angel like him had never been able to shed. In that last moment before the dark took him Cyrus smiled. He had taken something from the human that he would never have again. And then the darkness like a torrential rain flowed across his eyes and it was done.
Gaspar and his companions stood amongst the dead, some still writhing in their final spasms but dead none the less. They stood before a low stone alter.
Gaspar stared at the tattered and torn body that lay upon the cold white stone. The stone now streaked with her blood.
He had known the danger. He had feared the pain and the hurt. None of it could even begin to touch what it was he felt.
She had trusted him. She had believed him. She had loved him.
He fell to his knees the midget catching him just before he hit the floor.
The tears fell then. Like a river. Seven hundred years of walled in emotion burst forth in this one moment. He had failed again and this time it had resulted not in his death but in the death of the one woman he had allowed himself to love in all these centuries.
He saw a flash of light on steel on the floor next to him. The demon’s dagger still covered in her blood lay within reach. He reached out his hand for the blade his fingers closing over the cold bone handle. He raised the weapon pondering the razor sharp point and drawing a breath he closed his eyes.
At some point this had to end…
The giant’s hand closed like an iron claw, clad in a glove of satin, on his wrist. He raised his eyes staring into the coal-black eyes of the Arab who had walked beside him for over half a millennium. Tears flowed across the giant’s brown, time weathered face and for the first time since the day Gaspar had saved his life five hundred years ago he spoke, “I loved her to Gaspar. Not like you did but like I love you. Would you break my heart twice this night?”
Gaspar felt the light touch of Sabbaticus’s right hand on his shoulder. He watched transfixed as the midgets left hand reached out and took the demon’s blade from his hand. Staring straight into Gaspar’s eyes he slid the blade under Gaspar’s belt tucking it firmly in place.
The Giant released his wrist and walked slowly to the alter, and with a tenderness and gentle grace that seemed surreal for a being so huge, he lifted the wrecked body of Solare and cradled her to his chest. Without a word he headed up the stairs out of the cellar and away from the death and destruction of the place.
With Sabatticus’ help Gaspar stood and followed after the giant. He stopped at the body of the demon Cyrus. He stared down for a moment before kneeling. Drawing the demons own blade from his belt he plunged it deep into his chest carving out a space where the Angel’s heart should be. Reaching into the cavity he tore the still warm organ from his chest and crushed it in his hand until it was nothing but a gelatinous mass of blood and tissue unrecognizable for what it once was.
“I think we are done here, master,” came the soft voice of Sabbaticus.
Gaspar said nothing. He turned and headed up the stairs after the giant and the body of his love.
They buried her, three weeks later, on a hill overlooking the
’s youth, after the giant and the midget had both slaved over her body, piecing her back into some semblance of the beauty she had been, using every bit of their centuries of knowledge to preserve and prepare her. Beneath a giant oak, that he swore he remembered being there as a boy, he laid her down on a bed of fine Venetian silk. The giant covered her in some ancient mixture of herbs, flowers and oil and then the three of them spades in hand filled in her grave with the earth of Gaspar’s land. valley of Gaspar
As the sun set they sat drinking, each from his own bottle of wine. No one said a word until finally Gaspar stood, “Thank you my friends. Thank you for being here and for saving my life.”
He turned and walked down the hill toward the old Manor house leaving his friends to mourn. This life of his would not end by his hand but it would end. It was time.