Hell found me. Hell found me in the most unlikely place. In a place where I never thought I would stoop to going. I never imagined Hell would force me to that place. I also never imagined Hell would find me in that place once I got there. It tracked me down and found me in the form of its most feared demon. His name alone is unsuitable for mortal ears, so I won't force you, my dear reader to suffer its mentioning. Yes, Hell certainly found me.
I'd like to stem the flow of any ill thoughts you may already be harboring against me. I am not insane. Though I know I wish I was. Hell has a funny way of making one wish plenty of things that one never would wish for normally. Perhaps if I explained a bit of my past, a bit of my story, you might begin to better understand what I mean when I say Hell found me.
Erius, the name my parents gave me, a name that would eventually lead to my capture by the denizens of Hell. My parents gave me the name in ignorance of the prophecies. Prophecies that they should have known by all rights. Prophecies that all Angels are taught the moment they come to being. All Angels except fallen ones. My grandparents were Angels who had fallen from God's grace, and were banished from the heights of Heaven to live out their years on Earth. So, my parents, while being full blood Angels, were not allowed into Heaven because of the transgressions of their parents. My grandparents, seeing no need to burden their children with the weight of the prophecies, were forced to allow my parents to name me Erius; the name of the future equal to Satan. I know what you must be thinking, no I am not evil. The prophesized one was to be equal to Satan in power, he was to overthrow him and his demonic followers. Anyway, (I feel no need to bore you with any further recitations of Angelic prophecy.) now that you understand a little of who I am, I may get along with my story.
Needless to say my parents brought me up as normally as they could, teaching me to hide my Angelic powers from mortals in order to fit in with them and not cause problems. Because of this I had a rather boring childhood, even though I was the child of two quite powerful Angels, fallen Angels, but Angels none-the-less. Enough babbling about my family, on with the story.
When I was about 17 I began to get feelings. Odd feelings that I had never felt before. Not quite a feeling of fear, but slightly like it. As if the feeling I had was somehow kin to fear. It was a feeling that I eventually linked with a demonic presence. I felt it more frequently as I grew closer to age 18. I didn't know I was being watched at strategic points in time by Satan's most trusted demon. Yes, Lucifer knew of the prophecies, knew I was to eventually knock him from his reign over the earth. So, he had me watched to see how much I knew of my powers, and if I knew of these prophecies. Eventually he planned to capture me, to destroy me before I could awake to my true powers and steal his throne from underneath him. I became aware of his demon's presence and duty two days before he was to take me. An Arch-Angel of God warned me, and told me to go into hiding until the time was right for me to serve my purpose as intended by my creator. What could I do, I ran, I escaped.
I hid in several places over the next few months, mainly in forgotten caves all over the world. Places Satan would not remember until I had already moved to a new position. Those few months were the best of my life. I could fly with my Angelic wings for the first time in my life. For the first time I could utilize my powers. I discovered more things about myself and my powers as an Angel in those four months then I had my whole life. At first, God's Angels gave me warnings when Lucifer's demons became aware of my hiding place, but over time I could sense these things without warning. I could become invisible, I could fly, I could teleport. I could do all the things I had always dreamed of doing and more. Mostly though, I was on an adventure, I had a purpose. My new knowledge of who I was and what I was prophesized to do gave me freedom. I felt joy, I knew I was going to accomplish something meaningful with my life.
Well, as you might have guessed I began to run out of hiding places. It came to a point where I had to move everyday because of the Devil's quickening awareness of the forgotten hiding places in the world. So I had to go there, the one place I had never wanted to have to hide, the place I never intended to hide. I had to go though, it was inevitable. I had to hide in Ante-Hell. (If you have ever seen the map of Hell as drawn by Dante, you will know that this is the outer-most section of Hell.) Although it's not exactly part of Hell itself, it is considered part of Satan's lands. I had to hide in the forests of this gateway into Hell. I was on the very edge of the one place I did not want to go.
This place had been brought to my awareness by God's Arch-Angels in the first month of my hiding on earth. They didn't think I would ever have to go there, but they taught me how I could get there. It was a last-ditch effort to keep me hidden in case it took longer then suspected for me to be ready to face Lucifer. The classic "hide where they'll never look, right under there noses" tactic. To my surprise it even worked for a while. Longer then we'd ever expected it could at least. Two months I hid in the forests of Ante-Hell. Satan's cunning had been blinded by his eagerness to find me, and so he did not think of looking in his own lands for two whole months.
The Arch-Angel Gabriel himself came to me and gave me a sword, in order that I might be armed in my eventual fight with Satan and his minions. A sword forged in the furnaces of Heaven. It glowed with heavenly perfection from every angle. It trembled in my grip as though eager to fulfill its purpose as a demon destroyer. It was a sword well worthy of the future destroyer of Lucifer, but I do not believe I deserved it. I am and always have been a modest Angel, and I did not see myself as some great demon slayer, indeed I had never even seen a demon, much less Satan's most powerful advocate. I trained myself in the use of my sword on the beasts that thrived in the forests of Ante-Hell. Forgotten and tortured souls that had slowly wandered over the plains of Hell to this, the very border region between Hell and the worldly regions.
As you already know, Hell found me. The demon that had been searching for me for six months. He stormed into my dwelling place one day. Fortunately, my training had played off, I had become stronger then even I knew. After a period of time that seemed an eternity I finally threw him down and beheaded him with my great sword. Exhausted and wound covered I sat and slept. I was safe six more hours; before hundreds of demons stormed my hiding place and captured me before I could fully awake to what was happening. Hell had finally found me. Though I had killed the most powerful demon in Lucifer's hordes, I felt I wasn't ready to face the lord of evil himself.
I woke up hours later (the demons had knocked me out after they realized I wouldn't stop fighting even though I was tied up) in a cell. I knew where I was instantly. Satan's fortress, the dark keep of the Devil. I sat for hours, numb with the reality of my situation. I stared blankly at the wall and wondered if I would ever get out, but mostly I was filled with despair that I had failed my mission, the mission God himself had assigned me. Then I realized they had left my sword with me. So I wondered about that for about ten seconds before the door to my prison opened and light flooded in. At that moment I felt the most powerful presence I had ever felt. It was so chokingly evil it was painful. The aura of whatever was entering was so swelteringly dark and corrupted seemed to physically fill the air of my cell. At that moment I realized whose aura this was. The one I had come to Hell to hide from and eventually kill. He entered the room; the bright light flowing into the room hid his form from my stinging eyes for a few blessed seconds. I prepared myself in these few seconds to see the form of Satan, a form I felt would surely kill me or drive me instantly insane.
"Don't fear, I have not come to kill you." Lucifer spoke to me, the magnitude of this fact hit me like a waterfall. I was hearing the voice of the most feared being of all time, and he had addressed me like an old friend. He spoke again, "Are you so surprised to hear how I speak to you. Surely you are the one from the prophecies, my equal. Your aura doesn't lie to me; you are one who would be my equal. However, I sense that you aren't ready to assume that position as of yet." I stared at him and drew my sword, preparing for my destined battle, feeling quit unready. Then something happened I did not expect, he laughed. "Hahahaha, you feel you are ready? Then come, strike me down with that cursed blade," he said. I felt that I could hear a hint of fear when he spoke of my sword, but at the time I thought I was imagining it. So I charged him, I charged Lucifer with the sword prophesized to destroy him.
My blow never landed. Satan let out a flash of his aura and I was blown against the wall of my chamber. "Impressive, you almost got to me. This shall be a fun time indeed," he said to me. My vision blurred and I heard his last words as though from a mile away. "I will allow you to live after-all then. I admit it was not my intention, but I am interested to see how strong you may become. No doubt you can never become strong enough to defeat me, but you will be a fun toy. Get strong; ask for anything of my demons and it shall be given to you. Train on any demons you wish, they are expendable. Yes, grow strong and challenge me again sometime soon, won't you? I think you will," he said, finishing as he walked out and shut the door to my room.
I slept restlessly that night; nightmares tortured my exhausted and frightened mind. In the morning I couldn't remember any of the dreams, only a slight residue of fear remained. When I rose from my bed I was shocked to find my small prison cell had become a fully furnished master-bedroom overnight. My bed (previously a straw-stuffed, moth-bitten, rusted, single-sized bed) had seemingly morphed into a gigantic four-poster complete with curtains and satin sheets. The stone floors now had deep purple carpeting that was so soft it could have been woven from clouds. I quickly realized I was in a room fit for a king, no, an emperor.
The walls of my new suite were royal red and the many ceiling fans were gold and black to offset the walls and carpet perfectly. The southern half of the bedroom was a large kitchen with fully stocked refrigerator and pantry. It took me a whole hour just to learn all the wonders of my new apartments. A door in the west wall led to a huge bathroom with an oversized pool and shower. On the eastern wall there was a door that led into a training room. The ceiling in this room was very high, I guessed fifty feet. A mass of weaponry and armor was laid on racks and in cabinets on one wall. The northern portion of the room had rows of dummies for me to tune my archery and fencing on. On the southern wall there was a huge furnace and a large anvil, clearly a forge meant for a master blacksmith. All the tools, weapons, and other amenities meant for pre-combat I could ever wish for were in that room. A king's bachelor pad if I ever saw one.
Two more long months passed, the time had come. I felt ready to face Satan, well, as ready as I thought I would ever be. I marched from my compartments in full armor, armor that I had forged myself. (I felt it would be better to face my nemesis in my own armor, not the armor he had supplied me with.) I marched right on through the halls of Lucifer's fortress. Demon's snarled at me and mocked me with words, but I knew. I knew they were afraid; I had become an opponent worthy of their master, their eyes gave this away. My sword in its scabbard, my helmet in my right arm, and my shield in its place on my left arm, I marched to Lucifer's audience chambers. Transferring my helm to my left hand I knocked on the grand doors that led to Satan's apartments. Fear gripped my heart, but I did not let this show. My face set, I knocked.
I entered through the slowly opening doors. A long shadowy hall met me. Pillars to my right and left soared into a never-ending abyss above me. Eerie green phosphorescence seemed to hang in the air about me. I could see no source of light, but the chamber was lit enough to see the way to Satan's throne. That evil green light sent chills up my ramrod spine. The evil grandeur of that ruined hall seeped through my armor and weighed on my very being. While taking all this in I had walked the length of the throne-room. I stood before the dark and horned throne of Lucifer. He, my arch-nemesis, sat on his corrupted lordly seat and regarded me. "Welcome," he said expressionlessly. He was in full battle armor.
The war to end all wars began. I matched Satan blow for blow as he did in return. Our swords sparked as evil met divinity. The very steel of my sword grew hot as our fight took us through the fortress and out its main gates. Wide-eyed demons opened doors for us as we exited, not daring to say anything to us. "Very good," Lucifer remarked as I parried a particularly skillful thrust. We circled and whirled moving ever away from the keep of evil as a pinwheel of heated death.
Our footwork was evenly matched. We sidestepped, ducked, and advanced together, as if we were dancing partners in a perfectly choreographed set of steps. I was astonished to find we were even in all areas of our combat. I, Erius, a fallen Angel, matched God's own enemy for strength and ability. Sweat poured from my pores and my chest heaved. Judging from my opponent's panting breath; his body was reacting to our exertion in the same way. Two hours passed and still we danced across the plains of Hell's ninth circle. Even the Furies looked up from their gruesome tasks to watch the twirling, sparking cyclone that we, the Devil and I, had become.
After six hours of vigorous and unrelenting fighting, we both tripped and fell. We seemed to form a silent pact of rest. Satan slept, but I, knowing better then to trust the lord of deceit, lay awake. I used my Angelic powers to regenerate my stamina and strength. Doves, sent by God, carried gourds of water to me, so that I might not dehydrate before my fight was through. As I lay I retraced our path in my mind. Most of our way I hadn't been able to take in (because all of my focus had to be in my fight at all times), but I vaguely remembered crossing the "Giants' Well". (The deep pool that separates Hell's ninth and eighth circles. It turned out that Dante's description of Hell in his "Inferno" was quite accurate after all.) Looking up I could see a dark line on the horizon, meaning we would soon reach the Abyss, a deep canyon, and cross it to reach the seventh circle.
For the remainder of that first day and the next four days and nights our battle roared on. We crossed the River Phlegethon, the sixth circle and continued on our winding path. We clashed all the way through the City of Dis, across the River Styx, and over the plains of the fifth circle, then the fourth, the third, and the second circles of Hell.
On the morning of the sixth day we crossed the border into Limbo. Sensing the lack of land we had left to contend on, Lucifer seemed to begin fighting even harder (if that was possible by that point). He poured what was left of his demonic strength into his every blow. I retaliated with my pure, God-given power, and I matched him again. The very air around us heated up to higher temperatures as we turned up the heat in our ferocious fight. As we crossed the Acheron into the Vestibule (or Ante-Hell), I knew the time was near to defeat the enemy. This day brought hope anew to my exhausted body and soul. We still met blows, sparks from our magnificent blades left fires in our wake as we passed laboriously through the forests of Ante-Hell. We exited the forest and the time drew neigh. There, in view of the gates of Hell, Satan's strength finally faltered. His dark sword flew from his hand as it met one of my slashes. In slow motion I threw my final strike. In slow motion my blade slid through Lucifer's cuirass and into his breast. A horrendous note wracked the planes of Hell and the very ground shook. Satan's armor blew from his body as flames exploded from his skin. Lightning flared from the skies and my dieing enemy's body. Thunder roared and the ground I stood on shook ever more violently. I withdrew my blade and leapt back to spare myself from the intense heat being released from Lucifer's now morphing form. I threw my helm to the ground to better see the demise of the Lord of Hell. His previously humanoid body convulsed, changing shape into a gruesome, perverse, and unbearably evil form of the beast that was Satan's true body. Then, as even more bolts of electricity flew from his charred body, he fell. The thunder silenced, the lightning stopped, the floors of Hell ceased their quaking and silence reigned. What happened next brought forth a sound from that seemingly eternal silence. That most evil soul burst forth from Lucifer's smoking corpse and floated above it's previous home momentarily before disintegrating into nothingness. An Angelic chorus broke the silence and reached my ears, filling my exhausted soul with joy for the first time in months. The sun rose as the song of Angels continued.
Elation filled my mind and clogged my senses. At the same time the full toll of six days of ultimate exertion with no sleep hit my tortured body. The dawn of the seventh day began. The fight had ended in six days. Just as God's creation had lasted six days, so had my fight, this final fight. I knew I was to imitate God's actions during the Creation and end the seven days with a day long respite. My job done, the prophecies fulfilled, I fell to the ground and allowed my aching muscles to go limp. Amidst a heavenly choir, I rested.
"…so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." -Genesis 2:2
Author's Note: I do not own Dante's "Inferno", nor do I claim to have invented the geographical information of Hell as depicted in my story. Full credit for the names of the rivers and regions of Hell goes to Dante Alighieri and his poem, "Inferno."