|The Nephilim Chronicles|
|Preceded by: |
|Born At Dawn||Succeded by: |
The Sun Warrior
"Azrael!" the Metatron called after his charge, "Where are you going now? Your father instructed me that you were not leave your rooms, no matter what. Now come back!"
"But Raziel," the little boy turned around, "Did you see them? They flew by the window and landed in the courtyard! It's my job to greet them as heir apparent, right? That's what you've always told me." he said in his nine-year old voice.
The two stood in Azrael's room, the second largest set of rooms in the Keep. Raziel, the new Metatron, stood guard over the Prince of the Seraph Empire, his student. "Well... I do suppose that is your job since your father isn't here," Raziel quickly walked over to Azrael before he had a chance to run away, "But you also need to stay safe, for the Empire."
"But I want to meet the visitors!" Azrael whined, "Please Raziel? It's my job, you just said so! Let me go down, please?" he looked up, giving his teacher his signature puppy-dog eyes, "Please?"
Raziel looked down at the young boy, "Fine." he sighed. He patted the boy on the back, "But I go first okay? You have to be safe." "Alright!" Azrael smiled, used to getting his way.
The duo set off down the tall, spiral stair case that led to the receiving hall; Raziel kept the young prince behind him. Though he was slim, the large robes he wore to signify his being the Metatron helped him conceal his prince. After several long minutes they neared the bottom, "Come here Azrael," the Metatron whispered to the boy as he started getting ahead of his teacher, "It is dangerous for you to go ahead of me, an-"
"But I want to meet them, it's my job!"
"I know, I know," Raziel crouched so he was eye level with the boy, "But I need to go first to protect you. We do not know who they are or why they are here." he sighed, pinching the bridge between his nose. How could he say this without scaring the poor thing? "They could be here to harm you or your father, or even myself, but you need to stay save."
"No more 'buts' Azrael." he said firmly, "You will stay here until I signal for you that it's safe, understood?"
"Yes Raziel." Azrael's shoulder's sagged with defeat.
Raziel stood, "Stay here. I'll call you when and if it's safe for you to come out. If anything should happen, I want you to back to your rooms, and hide under your bed. I'll be there shortly and we will go somewhere were you can be safe."
Azrael nodded his head, and Azrael turned, walking out into the receiving hall, "Hello gentlemen," he said, "Welcome to the Seventh Circle of the Garden, Araboth, the throne of the king. I am the Metatron, is there anything I can help you with?" he said to the men.
They all wore black cloaks that swept the floor. They, like himself, were so enveloped by their cloaks that it was hard to judge their true size. The hoods of their cloaks covered their faces, the only piece of flesh visible was the mouth of the leader, or, Raziel thought him the leader.
"We are here to take what is ours." he said, his voice deeper that night, "Now step aside."
The group stepped forward, closing the gap. "What are you here for, perhaps I could help?" Raziel tried a smile, Azrael, you'd better not come out now, he though to himself.
"I'm afraid you cannot, unless you are willing going to hand me the throne. It is rightfully mine regardless, so I shall be taking it tonight, whether by force or otherwise." the man held out his hand, the skin pale white with what looked to be black lines crisscrossing it, leading up to his nails and back away into the folds of his cloak.
Raziel's eyes hardened, "You cannot have the throne," he whispered.
"As I thought," he turned to the man on his right, "Retrieve the brat." he growled, turning to the man on the left, "Wait outside, no one is to come it."
The two nodded, and were gone in a flash. "Oh Raziel, how long has been? I see you've been made the Metatron, good for you, I suppose it doesn't now anyway, I'm more powerful that you could ever be anyway," he shucked his cloak. He was tall and powerful, though pale and crisscrossed with black lines. His eyes were dark, like dried blood.
"I thought... I thought we banished you, how're you back?" the Metatron stumbled backwards, "You should be dead, torn apart by the Devils."
"If our places were switched, perhaps that would be true for you. But I have always been more powerful that those beasts. I've always been more powerful that any of you Grigori." he spat out the last word.
Raziel's gaze darted to the stairs. Good, the boy was gone, thank the gods, and the one who had been sent after him had gone the other way. Azrael is safe. He thought to himself, "You won't win," he said, "Even if you succeed in killing me, the other Grigori will be here soon, and after them, the king. You fail, Samael."
"Oh really?" he smiled, flashing his once-prefect teeth, which were now rotten, "I don't suppose they can come back from the grave can they?" he chuckled to himself, "Not even you could accomplish that, how could my brother and the other Grigori do so?"
"You wouldn't kill them, they are all your blood in some way."
"And?" Samael stepped forward again, "They cast me out without a second thought!" he snarled, spittle flying from his lips, "Why should I give their deaths anymore than that?" he took a deep breath, "Enough chatter, where is the boy?"
"Yes, yes, I know, you won't tell me. How valient of you to die for that brat, the son of my usurper. Can we dispense with the formalities already? Tell me where he his Raziel, you're both going to die anyway, why make this any harder for me?"
"I know," Raziel whispered, "but I will die defending my king, and that is what you could never understand, that is why you were banished."
Samael glared at the Metatron. "Fine then." he growled, "I will take pleasure in ripping you limb from limb." He held out his left hand, and all of the shadows in the room darted towards it. They gathered there, writhing, waiting to be released. Samael clenched his hand into a fist crushing the shadows, which then grew and stretched until it was sharp and narrow, until it became a sword.
Samael raised his sword high, "One last chance."
"Do your worst." Raziel opened his arms wide, "I've lived long as it is."
Samael smiled wickedly, "With pleasure." he slashed downward, serrating Raziel's flesh. He then jabbed him three times from his upper stomach to right below his throat. Then the shadowed blade vanished, "This will be better that killing you by hand. Now I can watch as my power poisons you, the great Metatron, from within."
Raziel bowed his head, so be it that he'd die, at least he had given his now king a chance to escape. He fell to his knees, Samael's poisonous shadows working their way through him. He would be dead soon, and then the pain would stop. Not much longer now.
And then: "Raziel?" a small voice whimpered.
"No." he breathed, "Go Azrael. Run away from here."
"Hush." Samael barked, kicking the Metatron savagely. Turning to the boy, he held out his left hand, "Come lad, I have news of your father."
"Papa?" Azrael ran to him, "What is it? What did Papa tell you? Is he coming back soon."
"Yes," Samael patted him on the head, "You two will be together very, very soon." He drew the shadows back into his hand, however this time they took the form of a small knife. "Very soon indeed."
As Samael went to put the knife into the small boy's back, Raziel launched himself up, snatching his new king away from his former friend and ran. Samael roared with rage, "Bring him back to be now." fire danced his eyes as did shadow his hands, which quickly formed two blades of darkness.
"Raziel!" the boy cried, "Put me down! He said I would be with Papa soon." he kicked and punched, "I wanna go see Papa!"
"Hush," the Metatron hissed into his ear, "He will take you to your father alright, if you want to die."
Azrael bit down hard on Raziel's arm, and Raziel dropped him. "Aha," Samael's swords merged, forming a swath a shadows, "Get him," Samael commanded, and the shadows did as they were told. They shot forward, quickly turning into what looked like a replica of their master's hand, and grabbed Azrael, immobilizing him.
"Move one step and I end him now." Samael called.
Raziel closed his eyes. He had no other choice, he had to use his powers. He drew his right hand to his chest, and breathed out slowly. Counting to ten, he breathed in and out five more times. Then he opened his eyes. "If it's a fight you want, then it's a fight you will get."
He held out his right hand, drawing the light to it as Samael did shadow to his own. Crushing the light, it formed into a blade of his own. He slashed out at the manifestation of shadow that held down the boy king, separating the two. "Azrael, come to me now so we can escape."
Azrael ran into the arms of his teacher, hugging him close. Raziel sent his sword of light away, and instead of drawing forth a weapon, he summoned his wings. He folded them around himself and Azrael, one wing curling up and the other curling down
"No!" Samael stormed towards the two, "You will not leave me now, not on the cusp of victory."
As Samael reached the Metatron and the boy king of the Seraph Empire, they disappeared in a flash of light, a scorch mark the only sign of their former presences.
Chapter 1 - Seven Years LaterEdit
Azrael stood up from his crouch. He peeled his eyes, looking out across the valley below the mountain peak. His eyes hurt, strained from overuse. He'd been on guard duty for five hours, not that there was any point in there even being a guard duty, no one ever ventured this far into the valley, and nobody but himself and his teacher had been in here in decades.
He turn around and walked away. What was the point in even doing this? Azrael sighed, sometimes he wished that he was still the prince of the Seraph Empire. Sure, it was fun learning to sword fight and use magic, but when he wasn't doing those things, it was boring, terribly boring.
"What are you doing?" the Metatron asked, appearing out of thin air, something he still hadn't taught Azrael, "I told you never to leave your post."
"There are no 'buts', if you leave your post, you're putting us both in danger. If even one of us were to die, then there will be no hope for the Empire." he pointed back to the cliff, "Now go back and watch."
"I'm tired of watching!" the former prince hissed, "All I ever do is train and watch, train and watch. I'm tired of watching, and you're not teaching me anything new! If this is all there is to learn, I can see why Samael was able to take my throne."
"Watch your mouth boy, I saved you from certain death, one would think you'd be more grateful."
"Perhaps I would if we'd do something with the life you saved." Azrael turned, "Why saved my life if all I'm going to do with it is look over my shoulder. This is no better than being dead, in fact, it's worse. Al least if I was dead I wouldn't be bored out of my mind."
Raziel sighed, "You don't know what you're talking about. One of these days you will see why we live the way we live." he turned and walked a few feet. He stopped and turned around, "Come with me Azrael,"
"Were are we going?" he asked, following closely behind, "Are you going to finally teach me something useful?"
"Yes," was all the Metatron said.
A little while later, Azrael stood while his master slowly sat down on the stone platform, the seven short years since he had lived in Araboth had aged him terribly. Raziel crossed his legs, and motioned for the adolescent to sit across from himself.
Once Azrael had done so, the Metatron closed his eyes and took several deep breaths, "Now Azrael," he sighed out the last breath and opened his eyes, "the time has come for you to learn about your duties as the next Metatron.
"As you can well see, I do not have much longer on this world," he paused, and clasped his hands, "you will need to take my spot as the Metatron as well as regain your throne. This will be a difficult task, and even with the advantage that your new powers will bring, your fight with Samael will take everything you've got.
And that is why we're here." the Metatron said, "This is the beginning of a great journey, your great journey. Tomorrow we will leave this place and head for the Crypt of Enoch, the place were our power originates."
"Why are you just now telling me about this?" Azrael questioned, "For seven years we've just been sitting here, doing nothing, when we could have already saved my kingdom? Why have you wasted all of our time?"
"You weren't ready for this power, and you still aren't, but by the time we reach the Crypt, I know you will be, because you have to be."
"How long will this journey take?" Azrael tried to hide his smile, he was finally going to do something useful.
"I couldn't say, it is different for each person who embarks upon it. Mine only lasted four days, but there have been some that lasted for months. It depends on how long it takes for you to show your worthiness to the Metatron spirit."
"You said we leave tomorrow?" the young prince asked, "Why are we waiting, shouldn't we go now and start it as soon as possible?"
"No, dear boy," the Metatron's shoulders sagged from a lack of sleep, "We must wait until dawn, that is how you signify the start of your journey, your new life will be born at dawn."
Azrael stood up, "What do we do now, then?" he looked behind his master into the room. The walls were a pale, bleached white color, most likely from the amount of sun that filtered through the patchy seiling. "I can just do nothing, I need something to entertain me until we have dinner."
"You could go hunting and catch us our dinner," the Metatron said, still sitting, "we've ran out of food again."
"Alright." Azrael started to walk away.
"Be back by sun down!"
The sun was low in the sky as Azrael skulked through the forest that surround the Temple. The red light reflected in the spider webs that swooped from tree to tree, turning them blood red. Azrael avoided them, fearing what may be waiting for him if he got too close.
He had killed a large buck, which would be plenty, but he continued his search nonetheless. The more food they had the better, it'd be less time spent on hunting during the journey.
After several more hours of searching, with only a hawk and two squirrels to show for his extra efforts, Azrael head back to the Temple. Something flicked in his peripheral vision, and his head snapped around to see what it was.
There was nothing but then air.
He dropped the burlap sack that contained the fresh meat, and held out his hand. This was one of the few useful things that Raziel had taught him. Reading the air had been tricky at first, but once he got used to searching for disruptions in the air currents, it was breeze.
He held his hand out for several minutes, but didn't sense anything. Though, seeing as how he was in a forest, this wasn't the most opportune environment for reading the air. He shrugged, picked up the sack, and starting walking back to the Temple again.
Within several minutes he was back home. "Raziel!" he called into the musty building, "I'm back," holding up the sack, "and I have food!"
There was no reply.
"Raziel?" the boy called into the Temple, but still didn't get a reply.
After several more minutes, and three more shouts without replies, Azrael dropped the sack for the second time that day, and walked deeper into the Temple.
The Temple was where the Metatron and his Council of Grigori lived and practiced their magics before Samael invaded the Garden and killed the warrior mages. Now it was but a shell of its former existence, if that. The roof was collapsing in several places, there were large chucks taken from the walls, and most of the Artifacts were missing or destroyed, thanks to the Fallen.
Raziel had forbidden Azrael of going too far into the Temple, as they, even after all of these years, had not ventured very far into the Temple, and there was no telling who, or more importantly what, was inside. Azrael remembered asking about going to look for survivors, but Raziel had said that if any of the Grigori were still alive, that they would not be monsters, which had the time, had scared his younger self. Now, not so much. Now Azrael could partially defend himself.
Azrael walked into what appeared to be a library. There were books, but, this being the Temple of Grigori, there were books in every room, so he wasn't quite sure.
"Raziel!" he called into the dark room, "Are you in here?"
Again there was no reply.
Azrael's brows furrowed. That's odd, he thought to himself, Raziel wouldn't go this deep, even if he thought he'd be safe, he knew I would be back soon. He wished that his teacher and taught him how to summon his wings, he could have used them to fly up towards to ceiling to get a better view.
As the sun sunk lower in the sky, the light in the Temple began to diminish. Spotting a medium length shaft of wood, Azrael picked it him in his left hand. He held out his right hand so in was in front of him, palm side up. It didn't take long for the flame to catch. Holding two-thirds of the shaft of wood over the flame, he crushed the flame into the wood, binding it so it would burn further down.
With his makeshift torch, Azrael walked further into the building that he had ever gone before, swinging the torch before him to ward of any unpleasantries.
By the time he had cleared the library, stilling having not found Raziel, the sun had completely disappeared. Selene, one of the three moons, was just beginning to rise, but it's light wasn't very strong, so Azrael's touch was the only dependable source of light that he had left.
At last he found a door that led out of the dusty room, and walked into what seemed to be a dining hall. He wasn't sure, but Azrael thought he saw a fight light up a head. Discarding the makeshift torch, which by now was little more that a collection of dying embers faintly attached to a stick, Azrael summoned a new flame into his hand, and ran for the light.
When he got close enough to see that Raziel was the source of the light, he stopped dead in his tracks.
His teacher floated off the ground, symbols that had been craved into his skin glowed brightly, symbols Azrael had never seen before now. His head was tipped back, and light poured from his mouth and eyes, golden wings fluttering behind him, though they were not what kept him in the air.
His legs were crossed and his hands were folded together, resting his lap. It looked as though he had been meditating before he entered his current state.
"Raziel?" he called out to his teacher.
The glow that surrounded him faltered, and his eyes fluttered. After a few seconds, it was as if nothing had happened.
"Raziel!" Azrael called out, louder this time.
The glow completely disappeared, and the Metaron fell, landing heavily on the stone floor. He groaned as Azrael walked over to him, hauling him up into a sitting position. "Are you alright?"
"Huh?" the frail man asked. His eyes were unfocused and a light trickle of blood flowed from his nose. He blinked his eyes several times, and looked up, "Yes, yes I'm fine. What are doing back here? I told you never to venture this far into the Temple. I swear, Azrael, one of these days you're going to get yourself killed."
Anger surged through Azrael, "The only reason I'm here is because I returned from hunting, and you were no where to be seen. I went looking for you, if I did get killed, it would have been your fault."