All of that out of the way, I hope you like TF part 1!! I'm off to enjoy the rest of my night before I go back to work tomorrow. Sleep well or good morning/afternoon... wherever you might be.
TAMING FIRE: FINALE PART 1
“Xavier!” Emile screamed out to the open space around him. He felt as though he were falling through an endless tunnel. The air was so cold it pricked at his skin. “Xavier!”
The man he loved… Where was Xavier?
Emile heard his name in a faint reply. His eyes shut; he was too tired to keep them open anymore. His chest burned where the cross lay flush with his skin.
“Xavier,” he choked, realizing smoke drifted up his nose.
Hands lifted him from under his shoulders. Relief came in the form of soft feathers wrapping around his body. They chased away the burn in his lungs and the smoke trying to grab at his body.
“Hang on, little one.”
“Don’t give up now. Your time is short. Make the best of it,” Lim’s whisper reached his ear before Emile hit hard ground. “Show him love. Show them all.”
Confused, achy, and coughing, Emile struggled to roll off of his back and sit up. Blinking a few times, Emile saw stars. All around him, hovering close to his face and body, tiny stars moved with a single touch of his hand. When he looked down, Emile froze. Underneath him was nothing but space. He put his hand down to test if what he was seeing was real.
An unseen barrier blocked his hand from reaching out to a formation of purple and orange gas, shining bright in contrast to the black of space. “Holy shit,” he breathed.
That’s when he remembered Xavier. If Emile was here, thousands of miles away from earth, a pinprick of a planet underneath him, then where was his love? Emile got to his feet, keeping his arms out for balance in case the barrier didn’t hold. Astounded, he found his feet firmly planted, suspended over the universe like a god of men.
“Did you think we would war before mortal men, who could hardly begin to comprehend what their eyes were seeing?”
Chills went up Emile’s spine. He rotated to see Lucifer in his true demonic form, seated on a throne of blood and flame. Thick, rosy liquid trickled from his mighty chair, pooling around his large, bare feet. Flames scattered under his touch, sending ashes into the black nothingness around them. His horns gleamed, curling up and away from his head.
Fire danced in the devil’s eyes, entrancing Emile until he swayed uneasily. “W-where is Xavier?”
Lucifer snapped his fingers. A figure began to emerge out of thin air next to Emile. On his knees, Xavier came into focus and coughed until he was hoarse. Black smoke was expunged from his lungs via his mouth, rolling into the arena-like atmosphere.
Emile dropped to his knees, patting Xavier on the back. “It’s okay. I’m here.” He grabbed Xavier’s hand, hauling him to his feet.
He welcomed the half-breed’s desperate embrace and nuzzled his nose in Xavier’s shoulder. “Where are we?”
Xavier swallowed against Emile’s shoulder. “Limbus,” he whispered. “The edge of hell and the edge of heaven, it is a place of judgment for those who question their faith and loyalties.”
“No. Worse.” Xavier pulled away. “Much worse.”
“It is here where demons and angels have the right to battle for souls yet to be decided of their own free will. It is the only place in all of my creation where he may have that right, though I should mention he has yet to be victorious.”
The men turned to find the Creator seated on a throne of white. Upon closer inspection, Emile found the seat to be made of white rose petals that fell away in a gentle breeze, causing the floral fragrance to drift to him. The scent was the same his grandmother used to wear; the scent that haunted him and at the same time gave him strength. It wasn’t a coincidence. He knew that as he met the Creator’s eyes.
“Some theorize Lucifer created sin and tempted Eve to take the fruit, but the truth is, I did not create man in perfection as I did my angels. I created man with such infancy, so that they would grow and learn with their own free will. Lucifer had no part in her decision. He had yet to fall from grace, no matter how much he boasts it was he who tempted her.”
The Creator looked through Emile, at Lucifer. Xavier and Emile watched the interaction, sensing tension thick in the air. “He was so beautiful and perfect, my angel, my son of morning. I gave him power and free will as I did his brothers and sisters, but because of his beauty, he became arrogant and spiteful. He wished to exalt his throne above the stars of his father – to be more powerful than me and rule them all.” The Creator’s lips twitched into a smile. He elegantly glided from his throne; yards of ethereal white trailed behind him, creating a robe befitting the universal entity.
“It may be true that here you sit, Lucifer, on a throne in the stars.” The Creator stopped. Amusement touched his ocean blue eyes. “But what you fail to realize, what you’ve always been too blind to see, is your throne will never ascend above this point or above myself, for everything you see is of my own making. I am power. I am everything. I am you. Do you not see, Lucifer? You cannot rise above me.”
Enraged, Lucifer slammed a clawed fist on his throne. Flames burst from his hand, licking his skin. “My fire will consume every man, woman, and child. I will never stop fighting for the souls of my people.”
“My people,” the Creator roared. His robes billowed around him in anger. His eyes bled white. He raised a hand to Lucifer. “You wicked fool, your deceit and lies are no match for the power of my love. When they are scared do they pray for you to save them? When a miracle occurs, do they bless your name? Where do they chant your title and praise the works of your kingdom? Where are these men you rule, Lucifer?”
“It is quite simple. You have none.” The Creator dropped his hand, calming the swarm of fabric around him. “You have nothing but regret to show for your actions. It is why you bring this boy here, because he sees through you and yours. No matter his shortcomings or trials he has always turned to me. And through me, others turn to him. You are bitter one of yours has become enthralled by him, seeking the beautiful light inside of him. You cannot let go because you are greedy and need to have the last word, even though there is nothing else to say. It is why we are here, in this place of trial. You wish to condemn this boy to a life of hellfire as punishment for leading your sheep astray. To let him live would make you look weak in the eyes of your followers.”
The Creator rumbled, lifting his hands above his head. “But that sheep has the right to choose. He has the right to see the glory of my love versus the pain you offer up.” Dropping his hands in a rush, the Creator sighed. Behind him the stars glowed until an angel appeared from each and every one.
Hundreds of wings spanned over the magnificent galaxy before him. Beings with light coming from inside of them stood tall, shining down upon them all. The Creator’s army was more perfect than any word written attempting to describe them in the bible.
Emile’s breath left him. He had no strength to stand before such a sight. His knees hit the barrier and his eyes welled with tears of wonder. Lim burned brighter than the rest, kneeling before his father with a sword at his hip. He turned his eyes to Emile with a smile; a knowing look transpiring such love and care.
The Creator extended his hands again. “I claim that sheep as my child, now, then, and forevermore. I open my arms for him to come. Strike against him and I will allow him to use his love and anger upon you.”
Emile looked up at Xavier. He couldn’t read the emotions on his face, but it was clear Xavier knew who the Creator was speaking of. That sheep was a confused half-breed caught in the middle of a never ending war. No matter how stuck Xavier was, Emile knew no amount of standing there and hearing how much he was loved, by a man he didn’t know, would make Xavier give in. Emile knew what came next. He knew how to make Xavier see. He was certain of his purpose when he heard the first scream. It gave him the courage and the fire he needed to follow through.
Lucifer gripped a figure by the neck, rising from his throne. “What of this, almighty liar? What of this worthless creature my power conjured out of thin air?”
An army of darkness rolled in on a wave of fire. Demons stepped through an invisible wall, surrounding their leader. Hooves and claws, some with no faces and disfigured bodies, and some with skin so dark they blended into the pit of space, Lucifer’s demons were ready for battle. Among them was Bee, striding forward in his true form. He made no point in hiding himself in this realm, clacking his claws together eagerly.
“Yes, Creator, what of this?” Bee ripped his claws down Botis’s back.
“No,” Emile whispered. “Xavier, stop him.”
“Oh, Xavier,” Bee mocked. “Yes, stop me, half-breed. I dare you.” The Prince of Hell stuck his claws deep into Botis’s gut. Botis screamed. His reptilian tongue darted out of his open mouth. His red eyes sought help from his friends.
“You can’t do that! He had no choice how he came to be! You don’t own him,” Emile growled. The cross around his chest burned through his shirt, leaving charred pieces to fall away.
Bee threw his head back and laughed. The sound cut Emile to the core; a hopeless effort was what it sounded like. However, Emile was determined to never know Botis’s screams again. The conjured demon was innocent. He loved or was capable of having a heart. He’d helped both Xavier and him when he could have made things worse and went to Bee. Botis only sided with Lucifer because he thought he had nowhere else to go. He was stuck, but he didn’t have to be.
“Botis!” Emile dashed forward, only to be dragged back by Xavier. The half-breed wrestled him into the middle of the arena again. “No, you don’t understand. I know what I have to do!”
“And what is that, mortal?”
Xavier blew out a slow breath. He looked up to see his father standing tall in front of his army, a many legion militant structure meant for causing chaos the likes of which a human military could never conceive. “Don’t answer him, Emile.”
“This is the boy, the one you have demon touched?” Bael pulled his swords from his belt. Fire leapt up both blades.
“It’s not what you think,” Xavier murmured, feeling backed into a corner. His father, the man he had looked up to his entire life, was going to dismiss him for good and make him an enemy if he lasted through the next hour.
“You’ve made your mark upon him and still you don’t take his soul! What am I not understanding…half-breed?”
“Father!” Xavier jumped to his feet, eyes begging for mercy. “I didn’t take his soul because half of it was mine all along.”
Hushed silence fell over Lucifer’s side. If looks could kill mankind, Lucifer’s would have destroyed all of earth. He rose, still gripping Botis’s throat as if the demon was nothing more than a rag doll.
“Impossible!” Stars rattled around the demon king. “You are mine!”
Bael’s fierce expression fell away as Lucifer approached his son. Emile’s words rang in Bael’s head. Xavier, his son, never had a choice. None of this was his fault, instead destiny’s decision to make him one with the mortal at his side. Neither his son, nor the human… they didn’t deserve Lucifer’s anger.
“My king,” Bael shouted over the maelstrom of fire. “My king, stop!”
Lucifer cranked his head to the side, whipping his eyes to Bael. “You dare tell me what to do, underling?”
“Underling?” Bael scraped his blades over the invisible flooring beneath his feet. “I, Bael, commander of the darkest army in all of hell, am your underling?”
“Those who speak out against their king are underlings,” Lucifer hissed, throttling Botis to make his point. “Do you not speak against my actions, Bael?”
Closing his eyes briefly, Bael knew come hell or high water Xavier was his blood. No matter his station or his king, the dark commander would never allow Lucifer to touch his family. His decision made, Bael cast a glare full of intent at Lucifer.
“Anyone who touches my son with the intent to kill is no king to me.” Bael pointed his sword at Lucifer.
Xavier pushed Emile back, fear in his eyes. Every demon watched their king pad over the barrier floor to Bael. Lucifer dropped Botis at Bael’s feet. Botis wheezed, reaching out a clawed hand to Emile and Xavier. Everything slowed – time, thoughts, and words. The lines between good and evil seemed to blur, as did the empty space between sides. Somewhere in that rift of a moment, as angels lifted their swords to greet the bodies of their enemies, and the king of hell lifted his flaming hands to Bael standing tall before his shadowy legions, Emile saw his opportunity.
With one act of kindness, a selfless pledge of his love, Emile would change the structure of heaven and hell. His eyes slid to the Creator, standing still amongst a guard of angels. The heavenly king nodded at him. A tear fell from Emile’s eye. He grabbed Xavier’s hand, yanking him to attention.
“For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, and whosoever believeth in him, shall have everlasting life. Remember what came next,” Emile whispered and let Xavier’s hand go.
“Emile, stop!” Xavier started to run, but was shoved into the melee. “Emile!”
The mortal lifted his face to the stars and yelled, “For you and all those like you, the ones without a choice, the ones undecided of who is most high, I give myself to death to show you his undying power and sacrifice. Have faith in him and you will always know love.” Emile’s voice echoed around the arena, filling every ear with his powerful last words.
“Emile!” Xavier screamed.
Sucked into the battle, Emile let his cross guide him. A wave of holy supremacy occupied his body, riding out the Creator’s plans as if Emile knew them all by heart. In his last seconds of life, Emile threw himself between Bael and Lucifer, kicking Botis out of the way so that he would be free of the storm; free to live and choose.
Emile counted his last breaths. He was stifled for air as the heat kicked up. Even though Xavier’s father was strong and a commander of the worst beings in all of hell, Lucifer was stronger. For Xavier, Emile would protect Bael, a demon who thought he was worthless because he was human; just another soul to reap. The message would be sent. Xavier would choose. They would all stop to think. His job would be fulfilled.
Heat wafted at Emile, rolling off the devil’s body. It licked at his skin and Emile felt it this time. He felt real flames instead of those fabricated out of his own fears. This was no trick. He felt every soul trapped in the underworld with every searing burn to his body. He wept as sweat rained over his face. And still he did not move from that spot between two vicious beings. Only his hands, guided by the cross around his neck, reached up as Lucifer bent down.
Emile and Lucifer touched for the first time. The human’s hands around Lucifer’s horns and the demon’s hands around Emile’s cross, they both began to glow. They screamed. Emile, through his cries of torment, looked Lucifer in the eye.
“They love, like any child loves their father or like any father loves his child. They love, you’re so called followers.” Emile let out a strangled cry. His palms began to scorch under the heat of Lucifer’s horns like a hot iron. “And you’re no one’s father or child. You’d have to have a heart. That’s why you lose, Lucifer.”
Lucifer roared, pushing all of his hate and influence into Emile’s fragile mortal body. Bael reached out for the human who had tried to protect him.
There one second and gone the next, bursting apart into miniscule pieces, Emile’s body ceased to exist under Lucifer’s power.
Bael’s hand went through the air, catching only bits of glittering dust that scattered across the sky as it fell away. He looked up into the eyes of his master, his former master, and was surprised to see Lucifer’s pride and joy, his horns, fall away from his scalp. Blood welled, leaking over Lucifer’s forehead.
The horns clattered to the barrier beneath them, rolling awkwardly to a stop at Xavier’s feet. Xavier sucked in a shaky, angry, unfathomable breath. His glare warranted death to the demon he targeted. He clenched his smoking fists, both of them brewing fire and he didn’t even notice. He lifted his hands and roared, causing every being around him to take a step back. He only had eyes for Lucifer. He only felt pain at the thought of what had just happened. He couldn’t bear this pain!
The battle put on pause due to Xavier’s earth shattering anger, he flung his head back and screamed Emile’s name. The agony in his body was nothing compared to the throb in his heart. His love was nothing but dust, blown to the corners of the universe. He would never hold his Emile again, however briefly he’d been gifted in the past week. He’d never hear that beautiful voice reach his ears. Xavier would never say those three little words to the only person in the world he’d ever think to say them to.
Something burrowed out of his body, ripping the flesh around his spine. Wet with blood, but glowing bright around the tips, black wings expanded to either side of his body. Both of his eyes bled white. Behind him he felt the Creator near. For the first time in life, Xavier listened to his heart above the hate he’d been programmed to believe.
Emile had sacrificed himself for a demon, Xavier’s father, regardless of how Bael felt about him.
Emile had believed in the Creator until the very end. He had an unrivaled faith and a heart bigger than his body could contain.
Emile’s love for him stemmed from his love for the Creator.
The same holy being of Emile’s faith stood at Xavier’s back, caressing his feathers with a comforting touch, something Lucifer would never do.
Xavier bent down and picked up Lucifer’s horns; a last gift from his beautiful Emile. The moment they touched his hands, they’re dark exterior lengthened into two sharp swords. Twisting around his wrists, the hollowed ends became grips for his hands.
“I have chosen my loyalties.” Xavier took a step forward, dragging his new blades across the ground. White fire sparked to life, pouring from his wrists down his weapons. “And they will never lie with you.”
“Choose,” he screamed to the demons around him. “Choose him and I will come after every last one of you! After I deal with him first…”
The demons looked to one another. Some laughed. Others cowered in the recesses of the dark. Some were filled with curiosity.
Lucifer cackled. “I shall grow new horns, half-breed. Your new toys won’t bring my children to him.”
“Wanna bet?” Xavier blurred forward, wings flapping and raining blood on whoever was near. His blades drove home in Lucifer’s chest, blasting white flames into the demon’s body. “He touched them,” Xavier whispered excitedly, half mad with grief. “Emile touched your horns.”
Lucifer’s mouth opened. His skin began to crack. “No,” he choked.
The devil realized Xavier was right. By wearing the disciple’s cross, Emile had left behind his faith, embedding his last ounce of love into Lucifer’s horns. The power was too much for Lucifer to handle, no matter how much he tried to fight it. His body caved, cracking all over until fiery red lines appeared on his skin.
Xavier twisted the blades, tears running down his face. “He loved me so much, he would give his life to protect my family, so I wouldn’t know that kind of suffering, his suffering; so I would always be able to look on my father and know he still has a choice in what to do with his life. He left behind such a powerful message, for me, and for them, your followers. He showed us all how weak you are. He showed us you are nothing.”
Xavier swallowed back his pain. “If you like your soulless hell so much, you can stay there forever.” He pushed the blades in up to the hilt.
Fire consumed Lucifer’s body. A beam of red light pierced the arena, spotlighting Lucifer. His body crumbled. His screams thundered through the air. Demons ran to their master from all directions, crying his name. They touched the light, one by one, and followed their master back to hell. When only half of them remained, the light disappeared through the floor as if it had never been there in the first place.
Xavier’s vengeful rage was swept away by the turmoil of his deeply rooted grief. Coiling around his wrists completely, his twin swords turned into cuffs. Their weight reminded him of the large whole in his heart.
Xavier didn’t realize he’d taken to his knees until he had to look up to see the person calling his name. His father, Bael, stood inches away from the Creator. The pair of them seemed so mismatched, Xavier didn’t begin to try and comprehend why they could bear to stand next to each other, much less combine their concern with matching expressions of sadness.
The Creator reached out a youthful, coffee-skinned hand. His Caribbean blue eyes churned with power and love, telling Xavier he was willing to bear some of the load. Xavier took his hand, and rose to his feet on solid ground. All around him angels began to enclose him within a circle, still allowing Bael and now Botis to remain.
“You cannot kill an immortal being,” Bael spoke first.
“I saw him…” Xavier sputtered, wiping his eyes.
“He is banished from earth for the remainder of his days, days that will never dwindle. Those who did not follow are now stuck between here and there.” The Creator wiped Xavier’s cheeks of tears. “They have been given the gift of choice just as you have. They may now discover within themselves whether they truly wish to follow the same path or to repent and love as Emile did you.”
Xavier keened, wobbling on his feet. “Don’t say his name.”
“Emile is dead, Xavier.” Bael laid a hand on his son’s shoulder, finalizing the moment Xavier had dreaded the most. “And because of him, I will fight for you, as he did for me. Never in my existence have I seen a mortal give up their life for one of us out of love and not because they were influenced, just because he didn’t think it was fair. It’s not fair. Why should I have to serve him when he offers us nothing but the promise of a soulless end? He does nothing for us, Xavier.”
“What are you saying?” Xavier turned his face away. All the life in his eyes was slowly fading away. He felt depleted, thirsty for Emile at his side. He couldn’t wrap his head around the truth. Emile was dead.
“He’s saying he’s seen the light, so to speak,” Elsanah interrupted.
Bael growled. “Don’t start with me, Elsie. Our kid’s human just…”
“The love of my life is gone!” Xavier pushed through the crowd. “He’s fucking gone!”
At the end of the arena, Xavier saw Bee plastered to the wall. The Prince of Hell was wicked, but seeing his father disappear, banished forever… It literally struck the fear of God into him. He quickly recovered, but only on the outside. Bee flashed his red eyes at Xavier, his father’s murderer, and summoned what forces he had left.
“You,” Xavier spat so hard he tasted blood on his bottom lip. “What do you choose for the death of Emile?”
Bee no longer had the power of his father with him. Whatever they’d done to Lucifer had cut his hell breathing battery down significantly. He had the backing of a hundred useless demons, most of who were still in shock, and his bad boy arrogant wit to get him by. Xavier saw right through Bee’s smirk. Every irate step Xavier took towards him, Bee’s grin diminished.
“I asked you a question.” With his broad black wings, feathers tipped in the Creator’s light, Xavier made no point in masking what he’d become from his worthless, former race. “And I won’t ask it again.”
He summoned his blades from his wrists. The motion came fluidly, without a thought. Someone deserved pain; a brand of pain only he knew at the moment.
“No,” Lim stopped him. “This is not the way.”
Pushing Lim away forcefully, Xavier snarled. “He will know what he’s done to me!”
“So will they, Xavier, they will see what happens next and ruin everything Emile stood for. Emile was able to see you for who you were and look past your darker parts. They deserve the chance, a single chance to right themselves and know the beauty of your Creator’s love just as much as you did. Kill him now and take away that spark of hope that dwells deep inside of them.” Lim appeared to Xavier, standing between him and Bee. “Remember that, Xavier…”
Remember that, Xavier thought. An inkling of Emile’s words panged his heart. The Creator sacrificed something precious to him long ago for the greater good; gone in body but not in spirit. Xavier finally understood. He took a step back, mystified. He was now a… and Emile was there. He had to be. Emile still had a soul.
“Let them go, Xavier.” Bael approached his son. “They aren’t worth it right now. Soon they’ll realize who they have to depend on for help and that will be a far more fitting punishment in the end.”
Bee crept back to the wall, summoning his way out. “But before you sneak away, Bee.” Lim smiled. “We will be watching. One chance is all you get.”
“Don’t even think of visiting daddy either.” Bael leaned forward. His shadow demons launched at Bee, stopping mere inches from touching the prince. “I command my own power, not his, and I’ll be watching, too.”
“One chance,” the Creator repeated, “to choose who you wish to serve. Continue on the path you have lived all of these years and my forgiveness will no longer be yours.”
Bee rallied his demons together. Abandoned by his father to earth and an army of angels, who was he now without Lucifer’s command? He wasn’t sure, but he didn’t want to stick around to find out from the Creator. They were being granted escape, even though he knew they were hardly safe judging by the look in Xavier’s eyes. The half breed was magnificent in his menacing, yet angelic glory. His wings matched those of the Archangels, bordering on the line between holy and terrifying. Xavier would not come back to them. He was the Creator’s now.
Bee had lost this round. Shamed and weak, his first thought as he led his army back through the arena portal was that of revenge. Whatever his fellow demons wanted to do was fine by him, but he would see his father free if it was the last thing he did. It would take time and a careful collection of power. But it would happen. One foot in the mortal world, and one foot in Limbus, Bee scowled over his shoulder, sending a hate-filled farewell to Xavier.
Xavier tilted his blade, playing flames along its length for Bee to see. “Next time I won’t show you any mercy.”
Bee grinned. “Until we meet again, angel.”
The portal sealed behind the demons. Silence hung in the air.
Gone was Lucifer’s bloody throne. Gone were the demons that followed their king back to hell. Gone were the Prince of Hell and his hoard, off to earth where they would plot again. Xavier didn’t know what to do or how to say the things he needed to get off of his chest. He simply couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t feel, or could he? Was he in pain or was he numb? Who was he without the other half of his soul? What happened now? Where did Emile go, up to heaven?
“I don’t…help me.” Xavier could feel Emile’s touch wrap around his wrists like a ghostly memory. The trace of Emile’s faith left behind on Xavier’s blades was all he had left.
“I have given you all the help you need because you asked your heart asked for it the moment Emile left the physical world.” The Creator moved out of the way. “By claiming me as yours, I claim you as mine. Never again will you know pain or suffering. Never again will you question who you are or why. You will only feel how much I love you, because you now know what love is.”
A small woman parted the crowd. Her long silver hair cascaded over his shoulders, down to her waist. Her gold eyes burned, touching something familiar inside of Xavier. The scent of her perfume flowed over him and he knew for sure who she was. She had to be.
She smiled warmly, reaching out a hand. Xavier shook his head. “I can’t take any more.”
“Ah, but I think you’ll enjoy this part. You’ve earned it, Xavier.” She folded her soft hand around his. “Have a little faith.”
Guided by Emile’s grandmother, Rosalind, Xavier walked between the angels and his father’s army. He stopped once he reached the mystery portal and glanced at the Creator one last time. His heart twisted, burning his chest. “Is he happy? Is Emile happy where he is?”
The Creator smiled. “Go and find out for yourself.”
Pulled through the portal, eyes wide with hope, Xavier let himself fall through the air. Time and space collided. He closed his eyes and smiled. All he could feel was love. All he could smell were flowers. All he could hear was the Creator’s whisper, telling him everything would be just fine.
TO BE CONTINUED…