Book 1, Chapter 8: Earned in Blood
Cain was completely disoriented. Did he travel through time? Or just space? Could Lucifer really do that? A moment ago he was with Lucifer, and now he stood facing the hordes of Heaven in front of the Pearly Gates!
He lusted for power, it set his heart aflame. So he ran. He ran towards the Army of Heaven. His people were confused but still followed him into war.
‘TO WAR!’ he cried to his brethren, who followed him towards death.
He was invincible, he thought. His Mark protected him! No one dared kill him. No one could kill him. Not even Lucifer. He would defeat the elder angels, nay, he would slay them all! He would consume their souls. And then he would put Lucifer in his place.
His vengeance was about to begin. His death, his resentment of the Heavens and his lust for the power of Satan, drove him wild with fury and passion. He ran into war, swinging the two-handed beheader, into the army of his elders.
The Mark of Cain gleamed and shone as it consumed victim after victim. With each kill, Cain’s horde got stronger and stronger as the Soul redistributed amongst the people of the realm.
They were like viruses that ate into the cache of the blue realm. They had degraded to doing the very thing that they had despised so much, many years ago when they had left Eden for it: forced consumption of souls.
He cut through the angels mercilessly. Those that managed to get past his block, disintegrated into non-existence before they could touch him. Their very memory wiped off the face of Creation.
His horde, however, was not so lucky. They suffered great losses, with each wave of angelic soldiers their numbers dwindled more and more.
They did not know how long they fought. Hours or days did not matter to them anymore. There were no rests on either side. The angelic waves kept on coming and the horde, rejuvenated with each kill, continued to cut them down.
Cutting across a sea of bodies, they reached the gates. Cain’s eyes shone. He smacked his lips, his grip tightened on his sword.
‘Take down the gates!’ he ordered his men. They rushed towards the hinges, successfully breaking two of them before the last of the horde was cut down. But the damage was done. The left gate fell, while the other, without support, swung open.
Cain took a deep breath, realizing he had been fighting for days; how time passed in war! He gazed upon the reinforcements of angelic warriors who bore down upon him from inside the gates.
He turned and looked back the field ridden with corpses and heads he had hung on their own spears. He faced forward, praying his Mark would hold against so many. He tightened his grip on his sword and got ready for the battle of his life.
How far he had come! From being mercilessly murdered by Abel in his fields, to slaying angels by the dozen.
He let out a shrill cry. He could not even hear it anymore. He did not even know if any voice actually came out of his throat. He just cared about the boiling blood racing through his veins. He was unstoppable.
The road to Heaven was open and he was going to paint it with blood.
Cain left a trail of corpses in his wake. All the mistreatment he had faced all his life fueled his rage. He was mad with the lust for vengeance. The more he killed, the more it fed his rage.
He was covered in blood of his enemies from head to toe. His Mark not once losing its shine as hordes upon hordes of angels bore down upon him and disappeared from existence.
They cared not for their life. There was nothing they could do so they simply tried to overload his curse to cause it to implode unto itself. But the Mark was a gift from the All-Father, it never faltered.
Then something strange happened. His body lifted up of its own accord into the air. His limbs went rigid and his mouth opened. A beam of light fell from the sky and washed his suspended body. His mouth opened of its own accord as unknown energy entered his body.
He grew larger, bulkier. He looked like a red colored statue with a glowing white burn on his forehead. He grew horns from his temples and spikes formed armor for his shoulders, elbows and knees.
His sword extended to double its size. It was now a cleaver. A red horse materialized beside him. And the words of an ancient prophecy rang into his ears.
‘Thus is the fated day when the power of Ancients is invoked again. By the sacrifice of a thousand angels, Lord War comes. Stride upon this horse, the power to take peace from this land. Ride again, red horseman.’
Lucifer exclaimed in his chamber as he scryed upon Cain in marvel. His plan was working out with utmost precision. The Ophanim would rue the day they opened the Hall of Prophets to him. He had invoked the Prophecy of Exodus. He would bring apocalypse to Heaven.
At the palace Azrael hung in mid-air, while he experienced a similar phenomenon. This time a pale horse had appeared.
‘Thus is the fated day when the power of Ancients is invoked again. By the death of a thousand angels, Lord Destruction comes. Stride upon this horse, the power to take life and deal the one true death. Ride again, pale horseman.’
He rode out to face the intruder who had brought death to heaven. ‘Halt, intruder!’ challenged Azrael, ‘you came this far, but shall proceed no further.’
He was transformed as well. All these deaths had invoked Lord War into Cain and Lord Destruction into Azrael. He carried a huge double bladed axe. His head was now skeletal. His clothes were no longer princely; he wore rags that flew in the wind. He was no longer an angel. He was a horseman of apocalypse now.
Cain stopped his horse just inside the Pearly Gates. He was being challenged by Death himself! What glory! Creation will sing his songs for all eternity.
The two horsemen rode at each other.
Devastation followed in their wake. Everyone within visible distance of Azrael was wiped off from existence. Everything within visible distance of Cain burned to ashes.
There was calamity in heaven. The skies burst again with golden light and a black horse appeared. But there was no prophecy this time. There was no one left there to take its mantle. Lord Calamity had woken, but there was no body for him to occupy. The horse tapped its hooves nervously and waited apprehensively while Cain and Azrael engaged in mortal combat.
Azrael crouched low as he readied his dark axe, ready to strike Cain. The Mark had only so much power. If he could kill Cain by overpowering his gift’s force fields, that would be the end of this troublemaker.
They met in an embrace of metal in a hail of sparks. Cleaver crossed against axe. Cain swung back and sliced off the head of Azrael’s pale horse. But the horse did not break stride. A new head grew within moments.
Azrael rode towards him again, and leaped high into the air when he reached Cain’s side, too fast for someone carrying that huge axe. Cain was no less a warrior. He parried Azrael’s overhead blow. His horse sunk under the weight of the hit and gave in, collapsing on the ground.
Now they were both on foot, their weapons locked. Cain turned on his right heel and came up flanking Azrael from left. Azrael swung his axe to parry. Cain feigned and jumped to the right and came down hard on Azrael’s side, stabbing him below his armpit.
The blade crumbled to dust.
With wide eyes Cain jumped back. He would have to change his plan. Azrael is no longer just Death. He is Destruction. He cannot be killed. Only the power of All-Father may defeat him.
But he could not completely trust his Mark now. He could feel his breath getting heavy. Overuse of his gift was starting to take a toll on him. Azrael’s axe weighed a ton. A full-on blow from it would be too much for his gift in his current condition.
Azrael saw Cain’s eyes light up with glee. He lunged towards his rival without wasting a moment. He faked a move and spun in air to bring about a heavy swing intending to lop off Cain’s head.
His axe slowed down. The Mark’s force field was at work. The axe, however, did not stop. The strain on the force field burned the particulates in the air around them, causing a red glow over the surface of the field, making it visible.
It was a sight to behold. A ragged skeletal frame carrying a black diamond axe hundred times his carrying capacity, mid-swing at a figure covered with dark blood, his forehead glowing like the light of a thousand stars; and a burning drape between the two, constricting at the center where the axe was moving towards Cain. The field was getting thinner and thinner.
And then the field dissipated.
The black axe of death cut through it and headed straight for Cain’s neck.
Cain had seen through Azrael’s trick. He knew the move was a fake and was expecting the swing from his right. He would have to time his play perfectly.
He moved ever so slightly, positioning himself to be able to bend over backwards quickly, but refraining to, for the moment.
Azrael’s axe was winning against his field. This was Azrael’s moment of weakness. When he thought his undefeatable and absolute power was going to slay Cain.
Just as the axe cut through the field, Cain bent backwards. The axe passed over his face, grazing his chin and hitting the inner wall of his force field. And the curse of murderers attacked Azrael with its full power.
By making Azrael swing in full power, Cain had ensured the Mark would retaliate in kind. His perfectly-timed dodge saved his neck but Azrael received the full blow of the Mark’s power.
Azrael’s legendary weapon burst into shards, leaving it looking like a damaged scythe. Azrael’s flesh melted away in air as he writhed in pain and collapsed on his knees.
The once handsome Angel of Death, Lord Destruction reborn, had been transformed into a deathly visage, deathly and horrendous. He fell, defeated by All-Father’s protection spell that hit him through the Mark of Cain.
Cain had defeated Death.
‘Not so fast, son of Adam’, spoke Raphael through clenched teeth as he jumped in Cain’s way as the intruder entered the palace grounds, ‘for days you have terrorized my home. I shall allow it no more.’
He wanted to help his brother, but there was something he must do first. Cain had to be stopped. He could not be allowed inside. He would massacre helpless children. Shaken as he was by Death’s defeat, he still faced off against Cain, confident that his power over life would keep him from death.
Cain hissed, ‘Then DIE!’ and crouched into a fighting stance.
Then Lucifer appeared.
In a blinding flash of light, Lucifer was floating above them, looking as glorious as the All-Father. His wings spread wide and his red silica armor gleaming with reflections of his cosmic glow and the pools of dark blood on the ground.
‘No’, Lucifer commanded quietly.
‘What? How did you…? I just left you at the…’ started Raphael, but was cut short.
The sky split with a bang as with another flash of light a little man appeared a thousand feet above them. He seemed to hang for a moment before he fell towards them.
The little speck fell towards Cain with the speed of light. Before Cain could speak or even make his move, the man from the sky hit Cain in a flash of light, like a burning comet.
As they collided and were bounced off each other, Raphael caught a glimpse of the scene unfurling before him, and what he saw stopped his breath with disbelief.
It was Cain.
Another one! Cain had collided against Cain, with the speed of light. The shock itself was capable of killing them both. And it was doing just that. As they bounced back, their bodies floating in air, their Marks burned. They were each other’s murderers and each Cain’s Mark attacked the other.
A hot glow started forming in the middle of the palace square, emerging from between the two Cain’s bodies. It slowly overlapped them. Two glowing marks burned white hot with power at the center.
And then in a flash of cosmic energy, the glow imploded and there was nothing left. Cain was gone; wiped from existence by his own gift.
‘Phase one successful’, smiled Lucifer, pleased with himself. Immortal Azrael and invincible Cain had been defeated. Heaven was up for the taking.