This story is by Shannon Eichelberger and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Redemption for Lucifer. What a ridiculous thought.
And yet, here I was, walking towards a group of angry Archangels, holding a corpse, planning on begging for just that. Because she asked me to. On her dying breath, she asked the monster who killed her to try.
She was pale and lifeless in my arms. Her wounds, including the bite mark on her neck, the one that had stolen her life, were covered. I carried her with physical ease. Her lifeblood had given me strength through the vampire monster I had become. She had been kind to me after my Fall. Her death broke me.
I had taken and tortured her to hurt her consort, the one who had cast me down, stolen my angelic name. The monster inside hadn’t cared, had stolen my free will and did horrific things to her. When I finally broke free of his restraints, completely for the first time since my Fall, she was dead. One of us would die here today. The Lucifer that angels and demons alike had learned to fear, or the angel who had been stolen from this cruel world.
I laid her body gently on the ground before her consort, whose eyes were dull with grief. He went to his knees and touched her face lightly, as if he was afraid of hurting her. Maybe he had the strength left in him to save her. He would fix my mistake. But that choice would not affect my fate. Regardless if her God could save her, only one person I knew could forgive me enough to redeem me.
As she had commanded.
“Michael.” My voice wavered a bit as I addressed the Warrior Archangel. He regarded me with those amber eyes that had haunted my dreams for millennia. Grief and anger made them glow with the same fire that existed in his hands, on his sword. A sword that would easily pierce my heart should he decide not to forgive me. “I…I request your help.”
A snarl came from Michael’s left, from the lips of the feisty Messenger Archangel. “Like hell you need help,” Gabriel snapped, his cheeks a bright red from anger. All the Archangels had been close to her. It was my fault she was dead, I did not dare even think her name. Their anger was just.
“There’s nothing that can be fixed in you Fallen.” Uriel, the second youngest, but living up to his fiery name. Hand on sword, he looked ready to charge at me should Michael let him. “Black ichor. Nothing to be saved.” To Michael, he added, “Kill him, Mikey. Or I will.”
The muscles in Michael’s jaw twitched, the only outward change in his expression. I wondered what he was thinking as he stared back at me. When he continued to say nothing to me, my heart – or what was left of it – sank. I bowed my head as I went to my knees. “I am unarmed and I will not fight. This is my surrender. I refuse to continue on as who I was.”
I raised my head again, meeting Michael’s gaze once more. Such beautiful eyes I would never forget, a face I used to touch with affection. “It took her death by my hands to free me from him. From the monster that comes with vampirism. The monster that killed her…” I trailed off, then shook my head. Focus, focus. “She told me that if I asked for your forgiveness, if I received it from the one I hurt the most, then there is a possibility of redemption for me.”
Michael’s eyes narrowed, just a touch, but I had always been able to see the tiniest change in my Michael’s face. “You, Lucifer,” he began slowly, “do not deserve forgiveness for the pain and death you have caused in these last five millennia of war.”
Tears burned in the back of my eyes, an unfamiliar sensation. I hadn’t been afraid to die when I started the War in Heaven. I was prepared to die for what I believed in. But, even though I didn’t want to die now, if my death would cause peace, maybe that would be worth it. But to watch Michael, my first friend and lover, kill me, was more than I could bear.
Sitting back on my heels, I turned my gaze to the ground, my heart pounding loud in my ears. End this, Michael. Stop the monster before he hurts more people. Stop me. I wanted to be free. I didn’t – couldn’t hear him walk towards me. I only knew he was there when I felt flames on my nape, on my leather-like wings. The blade was cold when it touched my skin, the flames around it burning my skin with a recognizable aroma. I could barely feel the pain.
The blade was raised.
I did as she commanded.
I squeezed my eyes shut.
She saw good in me, even as she lay dying in my arms.
The vampiric monster clawed at my skin, snarling and demanding I fight back, to preserve our lives.
If I die, you go with me. You will hurt no more.
Metal clattering against concrete had me snapping my eyes open. No blood greeted my sight. Just a sword with dying fire in front of me. A sword that should have ended my life. I turned my head up towards the Archangel.
There were tears on Michael’s face and I watched in astonishment as he sank to his knees in front of me. “Lucifer does not deserve forgiveness,” he whispered, cupping my face with both of his hands. Calloused hands from his life as a warrior, but warm all the same. “But you, you are not Lucifer. You did not kill Jophiel. I know you didn’t.”
“I did, Michael, please.” I grabbed his wrists as I cried my own tears. “You have to end me before he takes control again.”
But Michael was shaking his head, his grip firm. “I cannot kill you. I can’t, and I won’t let anyone else do so.” He jerked me forward and I went, letting him press me against his chest. “Jophiel promised you redemption if I forgave you. I forgive you, Azrael, I forgive you.”
Hearing Michael say my angelic name again was like a lightning bolt down my spine. It took me a few moments to realize that the pain down my spine was actually there.
Pain radiated from my spine out to my wings in waves, carrying the whisper of Jophiel’s essence. Nerves screamed with pain as Michael’s hands touched my wings, my back. Michael was shaking me, saying something that was muffled to my ears. Head dizzy, I pondered if I did actually get struck by lightning when I felt it.
I pushed myself away from Michael and turned my head. Black feathers on my wings greeted me, feathers I had not seen or touched since my Fall. I ran a shaking hand over them, unsure if they were real. They gleamed like obsidian in the sunlight, were as soft as they once were. The monster’s voice and presence were dulled, barely a prick in my mind, on my skin.
I looked up at Michael.
“A-Azrael… Azrael, you’re back.” Michael cupped my face again, tears falling more earnestly now. If he said anything else, it was lost to my ears as I stared down at my hands, still stained with Jophiel’s dried blood.
How….how did I…did she…
It shouldn’t have been possible. The amount of death and blood and suffering on my shoulders. I was the least likely person to even be considered for redemption. And yet, I had my wings back, my Grace. I had been forgiven by the one person I tortured the most.
“I’m back,” I whispered, echoing Michael’s words. I tasted tears on my lips as I tried to find my voice. “I’m free.” But, the most important thought occurred to me as Michael pulled me into an embrace once more.
Redemption for Lucifer. Ridiculous, but possible if one has the ability to look past the faults of a person, ones that they created or had put on themselves.