"You're one of the last Archangels I expected to take part of thechallenge." Michael's baritone voice was wrapped in icy cold. The old man infront of him smiled gently and wordlessly nodded. "And what is yourchallenge, Yves?"
Laurence knew, for he had been told by the eldest of celestials momentsbefore. "A staring contest," he informed the eldest of Seraphs.
Michael's bellow of incredulity, the echo of The Sword's words, shook thegroves. "A staring contest? THAT is your challenge?" Once again, the shortold man simply nodded, but Michael thought he saw a twinkle in Destiny'seyes.
"A staring contest risks no injury, Yves. I'm afraid I must-" Laurencebegan, but was cut off by Yves.
"Ah, but is not such a contest one of the hallmarks of man-to-man combat?The stare down? And can it not cause psychological injury?"
Michael sighed, Yves was right and he announced it to be True. "What will bethe prize?" Yves came close to him and whispered in his ear, so that none ofthe gathering - and Michael's challenges had assembled a number ofspectators - could overhear. Michael saw that Yves spoke the Truth andnodded solemnly.
The two eldest of all angels - if He Who Named God could truly be consideredan angel - sat across from each other, their eyes boring into the other's.And though War was ancient, he was consumed by the depths of time, from TheBeginning to The End. He nearly turned his head then, within the firstmoment of the contest, but steeled himself and let Yves see the countlessbattles in his eyes.
As the two had their gazes locked part of Michael's brain drifted away. Yvesalways invokes questions but never gives answers, he thought harshly, andhis wavering between religions stirs Heaven into skirmishes between itself.Why? Why if he has everything that may be written does he not share it withthose who need it - for the glory of God?
The Seraph saw into Destiny's eyes. In the depths of time he saw a calmness,an almost ineffability. He saw tenderness, sorrow and love. But most of allhe saw faith. Faith so strong that he almost turned away again, for thefaith was so True that even Michael's faith seemed a candle to the sun.Michael began to shake. Even through all he had seen, all he had done, hedid not have this vision that Yves had.
Michael began to doubt himself and his mistrust began to waver. Perhaps itwas Yves's faith and love that kept him silent. It could be that Yves didnot show the plans of Hell because Yves himself never looked, trusting fullyin God. Michael's doubt consumed him and he almost surrendered.
Then it happened. Destiny blinked. The former General of the Host wasvictorious again, though through no power of my own, he thought. Hismistrust sprang back into place and he nearly spat at Yves's feet. At thoseblack orthopedic shoes.
"You were Destined to win, Michael. It was ever so." Yves smiled his gentlesmile, stood, and turned to go. And Michael saw that to be True.
"Wait Yves, what of War's prize?" Laurence called to the departingArchangel. Michael held out his hand to still the young General of the Host.
"He has already given it to me." War said, speaking of Destiny in warm tonesfor the first time in a long, long time.
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