The tears burned faintly on Celeste’s once human skin. She covered her face and tucked her dove-like wings close to her body as another explosion rocked the ground. Stroking the cold grip of her handgun, she shivered. Clouds of smoke obscured the sun, and a misty rain fell from the heavens, as though God himself was crying over the brutal sacrifice of his angels. Celeste peered through the crack at the bottom of the wall and stared at the ominous shapes of the battle between the angels and demons. Celeste took a deep breath and wished the sun would rise and thus spare her the day ahead. No pain she had experienced amounted to the memories that haunted her. She had been afraid to return to this place after she and Azazel were forced apart seven years ago when they had sinned against God for their forbidden love.
Silence fell upon the battlefield of night. Hundreds of Celeste’s comrades scampered through the tunnels with anticipation. She turned to look upon a fellow warrior, a boy. The yearling gritted his teeth and scrambled up the wall to view the ancient necropolis. He kissed his crucifix necklace. A whispered prayer fell from his trembling lips. Slowly, he lifted his head. Gazing past the broken wall, he opened his mouth as if to speak. Bang! The young man fell from his lofty perch, light flaring from his body as he tumbled.
The boy landed lifelessly at Celeste’s feet. She stared in horror. A trickle of blood seeped from his mouth, disturbingly scarlet against his pale cheek. As the explosions ceased momentarily, a ray of light fell on the body, and the boy’s eyes flashed gold. He smiled and unfurled his freshly painted wings. He was reborn as a Holy Angel, to purify all evil.
A bitter wind swept the hillside, and the ground was slick with rain. Glancing down, Celeste saw the boy’s crucifix glisten, and she bent down to pluck it from the blood-stained earth. Its golden flames engulfed her hand, blackening her fingertips — it prophesied a sacrifice to come. She dropped it in alarm and looked up at the wall. Bullets and droplets of blood shone in the air as she spread her wings and leapt into the war-torn sky, an uncaged bird soaring into the night.
Amongst the chaos, a masculine shadow moved swiftly through the battlefield. Broad shoulders outlined the shape of a tall figure. The imminent shapes of falcate blades sketched into the air. The impersonal whine of resonating metal passed Celeste’s ears as the man engaged in battle. His face was unrecognisable, the handsome features bloody, twisted and filled with raw rage. Underneath his shimmering black wings, the demon marking across his back was burning deep auburn and violet. And there he was. Azazel.
Across the hoary mist, Azazel was dancing the sweet steps of death, stealing the grace from the angels as a cold nakedness left their bodies. Azazel looked up in astonishment and saw Celeste. Rays of light announced her arrival, and his face lit up in ecstasy. With a roar of euphoria, he tossed his rival to the ground and flew to meet her. Celeste watched him approach, and she felt him calling for her, reaching for her –
Time stopped as they embraced; bullets slowed, and armies faded into oblivion. She sighed and buried herself in his chest. Energy swirled above them in a dangerous cyclone of light and darkness.
“I love you”, he murmured.
She laughed and linked her arms around his neck. “You’re impossible”.
The bare skin of her back was warm to his touch as he pulled Celeste into a hot and passionate kiss. She gripped his shoulders as the dark, erotic desire in his kiss awakened the primitive urges she was forbidden to set free. She breathed in, revelling in his touch, a touch that told her everything she needed to know. Azazel growled in appreciation and opened his mouth wide to bite into her shoulder, easing his need to claim her as his.
Azazel bit her neck playfully. “And you love it.”
His warm hands cupped her face, and she lifted her head, a gentle smile gracing her lips. Her soft blue eyes scanned the horizon, spotting a faint distant light; the Holy Angel. He emerged from the smoke, eyes glowing gold against the sinister darkness. Gun in hand, he aimed directly at her black-winged lover.
The Holy Angel raised his arm at the demon and squeezed the trigger; his lips pulled back into a menacing snarl. Azazel was gone. A bullet pierced his heart, and he plummeted to the barren ground. Celeste screamed in anguish as she dived towards the desolate moorlands. Her lungs were burning as she fell to her knees and cradled his body in a cold embrace. A million memories, like pictures frozen in time, filled her mind. Celeste stared into his deep-set sapphire eyes; they glinted like the twinkle of evil laughter that she remembered. It was the happiest memories that hurt the most, the ones that echoed her painful past. With rising rage she pointed her gun at the Holy Angel and repeatedly fired, missing him by inches as he resided into the darkness. Celeste checked her ammunition. She had one last bullet.
Celeste looked into the eyes of her lover for the last time.
Celeste whispered, “bonded by our love, your spirit and my soul, we are one.”
The unfamiliar promise tumbled out on its own as if her love for him had always remained a quiet flame, waiting to emerge from the darkness. Not even death could pull them apart. Sacrifice and defiance would bring them salvation. Pointing the gun at her temple, she pulled the trigger.