Finish the Story Entry: Week 20

in #fiction6 years ago

angel-art-black-and-white-96127.jpg

This is my entry for a contest hosted by @f3nix. Participants are given the beginning of a story that they are then tasked with finishing. If this sounds like something you would enjoy you can find the contest here:
https://steemit.com/contest/@f3nix/finish-the-story-contest-week-20


This beginning of this week's story, written by @f3nix:


Black Star

And finally dawn came, mercilessly, to reveal the blasphemous massacre of that night. The sulphur smell of the Flaegreian fields was blending with that of blood and entrails, while clots of death, horribly coagulated one with the other, slowly melted inside the iridescent acid water pools. There was no honour of weapons for the vanquished, whose remains were hideously smeared on the battlefield.
Instead, something else was crawling in that silent scene: the unnatural profanity of a rape, far beyond the concept of victory of one army over the other. It was as if the ground, pierced by fumaroles and teeming with mutilated bodies, wanted to shout to the sky a silent cry of faltering horror.
From the piles of corrupt meat, a black pillar emerged in the middle of the plain. An invisible and incandescent flame was emanating from that dark mountain, making the landscape all around tremulous due to the intense heat.

"I brought you some wine, Xarag." The man in armour approached cautiously to the black and immobile human tower.

"I do not find it right that you have to stay still for all this time instead of celebrating ..".

"Tell me you did not come alone just with that nauseating spicy wine." Glaring through the black metal of the helmet, the paladin abruptly interrupted the officer.

"I also have the serum, Xarag. Our queen never forgets the needs of her most valiant servants"

"Oh yes, she's always so thoughtful". The sudden pain obliged the paladin to an added effort for emitting the last word, which barely came out through the bloody clenched teeth.

"Do not worry, I cannot figure out how much you suffer, Xarag, and I won’t even dare to, but I promise you that also this time, when it has cooled down, we will manage to get you out of the gift".

"The gift, of course, guard of the queen. I know you'll do a good job with that piece of meat that still sticks to my bones," the black tower murmured in a metal hiss. "Now pour the whey into the wine and then leave me. You, at least, go and celebrate."

Xarag, the Black Star, barely approached the chalice at the deformed hole of the helmet and drank avidly. His meats, slowly devoured by his own armour, produced sounds that he would never get used to. He wanted to look up from that vision of death, he wanted to look for a star in the sky, among the poisonous and sulphur fumes, but the steel colour of the abyss no longer allowed it by many battles. He wanted to think to her, if only he didn’t have to bleed for the effort of not being torn apart in his body, mind and soul at the same time. For him, the battle would have still continued in solitude for long hours.

The fires projected cheerful arabesques on the cobalt walls of the camp tents, where the unrestrained bacchanal of victory was taking place. A group of officers argued in the galley tent, away from the crowds.

"I told you they did not fight! The angel approached, and they just looked at each other for a very long time .. at least that's what I saw as long as I could," said the young man with shelled eyes to the rest of the group.

"If only I could fight one of those damned celestials simply by standing by.. Maybe even while scratching my balls.” The silly laugh of the inexperienced official interrupted in a strangled sob.

"Listen to me well, piece of dung. Just because you miraculously survived your first battle and you got good marks at the academy, do you think you gained the right to talk about the Black Star?" The veteran's arm had relentlessly triggered at the young man's throat with a ruthless grip.

"First of all, that was not just an angel, but it was one of the Powers, sent into battle directly from the third triad. Have you already forgotten the lessons on the enemy hierarchy, cutie?" The grip loosened just before the colour of the young officer passed from red to dark purple.

"Also," continued the veteran, "you can bet they were fighting, as the Power had managed to overtake the first two auras of Xarag's armour and was now attempting to force the third inner one.. "

"Disintegration of the essence." Like gnarled invisibile fingers, a murmur ran through the soldiers.

The senior officer would have continued but was interrupted by a loud disturbing roar. The immediate shock-wave overwhelmed those present and all the contents of the tent. Perhaps the battle was not completely over.


My Ending


Xarag clenched his jaw. If anyone had been observing him, they would have thought his armor had mirrored this minute action of his facial muscles perfectly, but he could feel the disconnect. The process was beginning. It was always a bittersweet sensation to allow his own aura to separate from that of his armor. His human soul was accustomed to solitude, and always longed to return to it, but he got less of himself back with every divorce.

He had barely begun to regain his sense of self before Heaven announced their presence with a deafening explosion. He had defeated a high ranking angel, he knew Heaven would retaliate, they couldn’t let an insult of that magnitude go unanswered. He had expected their rebuttal to take longer though. How had they gathered an army that quickly? With the queen’s popularity increasing, it had been taking them longer and longer to find zealots to manipulate. When the rubble from the initial impact finally cleared, Xarag saw before him only a single angel.

“I didn’t know angels could go anywhere alone. I thought the mindless boot lickers that tend to swarm around you were necessary to your survival.” Xarag projected the jibe mentally and the angel answered in turn.

“Very little is necessary for the survival of an angel, which is why we are rather perplexed by what happened here today. You killed one of my kind.” The angel’s face remained expressionless. If it felt any kind remorse for the loss of the other angel, it didn’t show.

“I defeated a Power, backed by an army, and in response Heaven sent a lone angel? They can’t possibly expect this encounter to end any more favorably for them. They sent you to die.”

“Heaven didn’t send me to dispatch you, although if it becomes necessary I don’t think you would be able to put up much of a fight considering your current condition.” The confidence with which the angel dismissed Xarag’s bluff was unsettling, but not entirely unexpected.

“Well get on with it then. If Heaven doesn’t want me dead, what do they want?”

“I was sent to remind you that Heaven’s offer to humanity still stands.”

“Then you’re wasting your breath. I’m not in the habit of cutting deals with pompous pigeons.”

“I urge you to reconsider. It may surprise you to learn that in spite of your ignorance and malice, I do not hate humanity. Actually, I pity you. None of you asked for the burden of life. You were all forced into this world bloody and screaming, and so many of you leave it the same way.” The angel looked around the battlefield then, as if to make its point. “But you should know, your lives don’t have to be reduced to simple vignettes of tragedy. We can still offer you salvation.”

“You can offer me slavery, and with all due respect, I decline.”

“I feel it is only fair that I inform you that should you refuse redemption, my orders are to eradicate what remains of your war camp and take you into custody.”

“My answer hasn’t changed.”

“You refuse to be heaven’s slave, and yet you willingly mutilate your body and soul for your rebellious queen. Tell me little one, are you not simply trading masters?”

“You see this suit as my prison, but I chose it freely. I would pay any cost to prove to humanity that they can fight back against your tirrany and win.”

Before the angel could respond, Xarag disengaged the pressurized doors on the chest of his suit. Pain coursed through him as his still attached tissue tore under the pressure and his soul split in a million different directions. Before everything faded to black, Xarag used his remaining aura to pull the angel inside the suit and slam the doors firmly shut behind it. Nothing could open those doors without his aura giving the command. It was coded to respond only to him, and he would be dead within seconds. The angel that had appeared so serene only a moment ago, roared in anger and frustration. Xarag had truly never considered this suit his prison, but that is exactly what it would serve as for its new occupant. He had effectively removed two angels from Heaven’s arsenal. He gave his cause everything. He spent his last seconds of consciousness hoping that everything would be enough.

Photo is by Ghost Presenter from Pexels. It is free for personal and commercial use. You can find it here:
https://www.pexels.com/photo/statue-angel-cemetery-96127/

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Now you really spoiled my classification plans with your contribution! It's very very very well done. Apologies for having read it only now.
It's clear (halleluja). Clever and interesting dialogues which give depth to the characters. No useless campy lexicon. All juice and a final twist (but IMHO he will have to find a trick for the angel to come closer or take him by surprise, a bit more polishing, just a bit). Brava, I mean it!

Thank you :D I’m glad you enjoyed it!

The Angel got a screwy deal. Immortal and living in a prison … that is a lot.

Fun read.

Thanks for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it. And yeah it's interesting to think about the weight forever has over for something immortal.

It seems to me that we both have played on the themes of free will and supreme sacrifice as the ultimate choice of freedom. For this, I feel your ending very significant for me! Tip!

Thank you for the kind words and also for the tip :D

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Finish the Story Contest - Weeek #21 is out, crispy and warm, for the first time on the Bananafish blog!

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