Comes The Night, Comes The Terrible Dawn
By Eric A. Burns
The Event was beautiful. More than that, it was a culmination. So many came together upon that moment. So many joined their eternal rivals as the ultimate rivals came to stand as one. It was a shining moment, which would forever persist in the memory of those who watched it, and the dreams of those who heard of it.
Peace and War came together. The Lion had laid down with the Lamb. In Heaven, time is a fluid thing, so who can say how long they had been in opposition. At last, they were not.
And of all those who watched, only one was unable to shake his sense of foreboding. Only one couldn't simply accept the joy of that moment. He knew that joy was True -- after all, his was the Word of Revelation. But he couldn't shake this nagging feeling that there was something he was missing.
Afterward, of course, he figured it out. The pieces of the puzzle were all before him, so it wasn't even hard. Had he turned his true prowess to cleaving Truth from mystery towards it, he would have realized it so much faster. But as with so many others, he had set aside his burning obsession with Truth for one day, and tried to appreciate the ceremony for what it was.
Litheroy would never forgive himself this one, tragic indulgence. He would never accept that the Wedding of Novalis and Michael was as inevitable as the Fall of Lucifer himself. He would never release himself from that most terrible of prisons -- the prison of second guessing. For you see, he had seen the key to the puzzle before the nuptials, but had not asked the question that had leapt to his thoughts.
When Dominic found Litheroy, in the remains of his Abbey, he overheard Litheroy's whisper. "Why didn't I ask... why didn't I seek? Why didn't I reveal?"
"Ask what?" Dominic asked, quietly. On this day, Dominic took no joy, but neither was his judgment harsh.
Litheroy turned his eyes to his closest friend. "Why was Yves so reluctant to perform the ceremony?"
Dominic paused, and closed his own eyes, and understood his friend's pain.
It had been a beautiful reception. Many old jokes were told (though Cordiel, Cherub of War and Angel of Holding the Bridge didn't understand why they kept pointing at David and making comments about potholders) and many old wounds were healed (though Chamiel, Cherub of Flowers and Angel of Nursing the Seed didn't know why the Gabrielites kept following Judgment Servitors and saying 'here kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty'). Still, the two Cherubim were content. They had been good natured rivals for centuries, perhaps accentuated because both appeared as winged Lions in Heaven, Cordiel a rich furred huntress, Chamiel a regal black maned male.
On this day, Flowers and War were hardly rivals, though. And the two Lion Cherubim had been selected for a most honored duty.
The Bower stood between the Groves and the Gardens. This would be the place that did not belong to War or Flowers, but to both. It had but one way in, the trees thick to keep all others out. It was perfectly defensible. It was radiantly natural. In so many ways, it suited both its occupants perfectly.
Michael and Novalis had entered together, arm in arm, wearing silk robes -- their formal attire had been shed for the reception, their party clothes shed for their private celebration to come. Michael leaned close to the Cherubim as he entered, and grinned. "So much as one Windie with a camera gets by, and we're going to have words, Cord," he joked. Novalis merely looked radiantly happy.
No one got past the Cherubim. No one had to. They, of course, faced outward. Their divine love would never permit them to be anything less than discreet. Besides, all of Heaven knew this was more than an assignation -- more than even a symbol. No matter what intimacy the pair might have shared before now, this would be the truest moment of their unity. The moment their first child would be created.
The night -- the true night -- came at the stroke of Midnight, when uncounted Demons received their Essence far away from Heaven. Neither Cherub could possibly have reacted to the screams in time. Neither could possibly have entered the copse of trees before the skies had turned black and thunder had fallen in its wake. Neither could have possibly assisted their beloved Masters before the deed was done. Still, self-recrimination is the worst kind. The pair might even have Fallen, if they had survived.
The trees were falling away like cordwood as they wheeled around. Within the remains of the Bower, the broken celestial forms of Novalis and Michael, their anthropomorphic representations shattered along with their forces, lay motionless. And towards them walked a truly gigantic man, nude but not unadorned, his perfect skin black and tempered, his bald scalp gleaming with the fires around him. In his right hand, he held an axe every War servitor revered. Around his body, almost in mockery of a Malakite's chains, an ivy strand encircled him. He smiled with a face that gleamed, new as the world, and his eyes burned with hatred, old as Heaven itself.
"What is that," whispered Chamiel, who had not yet been made when those like the newcomer had been cast out.
"A Grigori," Cordiel snarled, and leapt, followed less than a second later by the black maned lion.
"Do you hear the people sing," the Grigori murmured gently, swinging his axe smoothly and slicing Cordiel apart, the Cherub's destruction being accompanied by her very Forces being consumed into the Grigori... "singing the song of angry men..." he turned, swinging back and destroying the Master Wordbound who remained, as casually, adding the Forces of that ancient Cherub to his own. "It is the music of a people... who will not be slaves again...."
There was a reaction, of course. One couldn't cause *that* much pain and devastation so close to the Groves and not have War, Stone and the Sword on you like a pack of wolves. And if there was an angel in Heaven who hadn't heard the horrible scream of Michael and Novalis, they were deaf indeed.
The Grigori, already bristling with Forces taken from the Scion of Peace and the Champion of Heaven alike, smiled a cold smile as the Host swept towards him. "When the beating of your heart... echoes the beating of the drums... there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes."
Not all who stood before the Grigori were destroyed, but it was a near thing. And those who fell added to the terrible strength of the Grigori. When the darkness lifted, and the terrible dawn came, two things were known. The Grigori was named Gog... and his terrible Word was Unity.
"How could this happen?" Zadkiel demanded in the Seraphim Council. "How?"
"I don't understand," Marc said, for what seemed the thousandth time. "It was the perfect trade. Each took six Forces -- two of Corporeal, two of Ethereal and two of Celestial apiece -- from themselves and combined them together into a single Angel. How..."
"The process was relatively simple," Jean said, as dispassionate as always. "They did indeed create a twelve Force angel. However, they had consulted with me as to whether or not such an Angel would need to be made within a Choir, or allowed to fledge. As I said to them, it is perfectly possible to create a twelve Force reliever, who would fledge themselves almost immediately. Nothing in the data suggested that it would fledge into a Watcher."
"Don't talk about the process," Laurence snapped. He had dominated the meeting -- in some ways taking the leadership role he had always been uncomfortable with before. "We could spend all night on it. 'Where did Gog get his Word?' 'How did Gog become a Superior?' 'Why did Gog attack his parents?' 'How did Michael fall so quickly?' 'Why didn't Novalis's aura of peace not stop Gog?' We don't know. We can't know and it doesn't matter." He turned to David. "How is their condition?"
"If we need proof that the Lord still remains with us," the Malakite rumbled, "it is that neither have died. Gog's worst power seems to be his ability to draw the Forces he costs another into himself, and he had a veritable feast from his parents. Both lie nearly destroyed. Were their Words not so powerful, they would have been. As it is, they each have but one Celestial Force and one Ethereal Force remaining."
"Which brings us to a chilling truth," Dominic said. "Within the Ethereal Forces of Michael and Novalis are tremendous resources and knowledge. Can any of us say we know the extent of Michael's organization on the Corporeal Plane? Can any of us say we know the secrets Novalis has learned from the very web of life on Earth itself? We have to assume Gog has those pieces. We have to assume Gog knows."
"Gog," David spat. "Why Gog. That was the name Magog had for me. The name he claimed I would assume in the end times. Why would the child of Michael and Novalis take it for their own?"
"Because Magog forsaw the ultimate cruelty -- the cruelty of a child destroying his parents -- and knew it involved what looked like a black, nude man in chains of some sort."
The room hushed, and Yves walked in, lighting a cigarette. Yves was ageless, but looked so much older than he had before. Given to quiet amusement, he now seemed direct... and very serious.
"Yves... what is going on," Blandine asked, finally.
"The Wolves have laid down with the Lambs, and the Kids have laid down with the Leopards," Yves said, taking a long drag. "War and Flowers have come together. And they have created Unity, and Unity has left Heaven to claim Earth for his own. And we will not find him until he is ready to be found." He looked around the room. "When the Watchers fall and become the Skulkers, they do not change like another fallen Angel would. Instead, they keep their extremely sensitive resonance. However, they are adept at using it to conceal themselves so completely that even a Demon Prince among Skulkers could remain hidden away." He took one last drag, and flicked the butt away. "It's interesting. There has always been an assumption that Lilim and Malakim counterpoint one another. But they don't. Malakim don't Fall at all, and a redeemed Lilim remains a Lilim, only Bright. No, the only Choir of Angel that remains the same when Falling is a Watcher. Where a Lilim sees Needs to chain, a Watcher feels disturbance to be righted. And both came after the Rebellion was put down."
"You knew this would happen," Zadkiel hissed. "You knew, and you didn't stop it!"
"That is true," Yves said, rising again. "Because the Destiny of the World, and of Humanity, is more important than the Fate of Michael and Novalis. Now, we must prepare."
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