Glowing with a soft radiance, the two Elohim looked up from their bloody work at the dark tower rising crookedly in the distance. Behind them, Jehos and Camaille were finishing off the Calabite. Not for the first time, the younger Elohite felt grateful for their silent presence on this journey.
"That," murmured the elder, "is the face of the enemy." He looked down at his bloody hands to the remains of the foolhardy Habbalite. "Not this, nor that," and he indicated the fallen Calabite. "But the tower of Nightmares, in all its squalor."
Confusion flickered across the face of the younger Elohite. Behind them, the two Malakim melted away into the chaos of the Marches, keeping an invisible vigil over their charges. "This is closer than I have ever been," said the younger. "It has...beauty."
"Indeed," said the elder. "Some among us believe that she was seduced by it." He paused, reflective. "You must think us foolish, for doing work that seems to mirror hers." The young Elohite's mouth twisted in a wry grin. "It has crossed my mind."
"That is said of us. Yet we serve a necessary function." He paused again. "The critical difference between us and what she used to be, young one, is that we fulfill the function -- we are its tools, not its masters."
The chaos flexed. A dreamscape rolled by, careening madly, its surface a reddish-silver sheen of fright. The younger Power twitched; the elder held a restraining hand on his arm. "We are here to observe, not to act." They watched impassively as it vanished into a maelstrom of color and emotion.
"Beleth, Princess of Nightmares. Once the Archangel of Fear. You were not around then, young one. I was. She understood then. Perhaps she still does. Regardless of her absence, we must still continue the work." It was his turn to smile. "And perhaps one day Heaven will thank us for it."
The Angels of Fear
Humans are broken. It has been noted many times that each individual is, on some level, a reflection of Heaven, with all its conflicting agendas and personalities. Most angels (and Archangels) overlook this, or quickly forget it, busying themselves with the concerns of the War.
Haniel has never forgotten it. In the beginning, he served Fear and Dreams both, in a time when the distinction was unimportant. He had a special project of his own as well -- he sought to understand why humans could be so contradictory in nature, why the meek gatherer of fruit could also be the frenzied warrior. To better understand humans, he immersed himself in their dreams.
And recoiled from the horrors therein. Beyond their petty fears of pain and the unknown was a deeper monster, one who was a slave of his lusts. Over the years Haniel watched civilization develop and saw how its mores repressed the human subconscious. When the concept of private property was introduced, Haniel discovered that more and more humans began to crave others' belongings. When marriage came into vogue, Haniel watched as more and more humans dreamt of taking their neighbor's spouse or cheating on their own.
Yet in the waking world, he found that the opposite was quite true. The man who secretly lusted after every woman in the village was, in fact, utterly devoted to his wife. The youth who dreamt of killing his father cared for him in his dotage. Far better than anyone, save perhaps for the two Archangels, Haniel understood the interplay between Fear and Dreams, and saw that each was necessary for the other.
When Lucifer tore his Superiors apart, Haniel was, at first, confused about the part he was to play in the unfolding drama. He felt for Beleth, but he could not sympathize with her choice. Blandine, on the other hand, was far too focused on other aspects of her Word to appreciate his value. The Lightbringer did his best to play on Haniel's affiliation with Fear, offering him power, prestige, authority.
In the end, Haniel refused, and distinguished himself in the fighting that followed.
Today, the warrior Elohite is the head of a small contingent of Servitors of Dreams. They are kept under close scrutiny at all times -- even the Malakim among them, after all, have Hearts to look into -- but are allowed to carry out what they perceive to be their functions. They are the Angels of Fear. Each of them has a price on his head. Beleth is, after all, a jealous Princess, and her Servitors are legion in the depths of the Marches.
Unlike the demons of Nightmares, they have no charter to terrify humans, although they may use nightmares as their tools if absolutely necessary. They act as humanity's safety valves, offering catharsis whenever necessary, and more than one human has avoided his Fate simply because an Angel of Fear kept him dreaming. Through the agency of these angels, humans experience depravity: they fulfill their secret lusts, their aches and longings granted free reign in the privacy of their own dreamscapes. Often, this keeps them from trying to fulfill these fantasies in the waking world. No few Angels of Fear use warning dreams as well, when it is deemed necessary: fears of retribution are played on, and the backlash of consequence is a far smaller thing for actions taken in dreams than in real life.
The Archangel of Dreams is notably reticent when it comes to discussing these Servitors, although they have a poor reputation among her other agents. An Angel of Fear is less likely to earn a boon from Blandine, leading many to speculate that Haniel and his group have somehow earned her disfavor. Blandine simply doesn't say.
The group is primarily composed of older, more experienced angels, Elohim and Malakim for the most part. A few Ofanim and Kyriotates are also members, although there is a remarkable lack of Seraphim, Cherubim and Mercurians in the ranks of the Angels of Fear. Of late, Haniel and his most trusted lieutenants have begun to recruit more of the newer Servitors of Dreams, hoping that they will be more receptive than their older peers. With the ranks of the Angels of Fear dwindling -- the result of an organized, aggressive campaign among some of Beleth's more aggrieved Servitors -- it is difficult to say whether the Angels of Fear will remain a force to be reckoned with in the Marches for much longer.
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