"Exiled," said the voice on the podium, "for the murder of Garrett Rust." Choruses of hushed conversation and whispered gossip rose among the people who had come to watch the Judgment. "Silence." All sound in the room died as the word was spoken. The voice waited before continuing. "By the decree of God himself, you are to permanently give up your place among the Angels. You are no longer welcome in Heaven, Adam Melrose. Arrangements have been made for you to depart at once." He paused. "Any final objections?" He waited for someone to speak up. When no one did, he declared, "dismissed." His stone gavel came down upon its marble plate, a symbol of finality. Not a word was uttered as the Angel at the center of the court rose from his knees and turned away from the silhouette at the podium to look into the eyes of the other, equally beautiful, onlooking Angels he had once called his friends.

Adam wasn't quite fazed by the Judgment, nor his sentence of exile. He had never particularly desired to be an Angel in the first place. It was when he forced himself to look at the scores of them that had come to watch that he felt the tiniest remorse. Many of them had been his friends and companions; all of them would have Died for his rank among the elitist Angels who, even, several times a century, served God himself. Now it was he who was Dying for one of them to fill the position. No, he thought. His sentence worse than Death. To Die meant to go to a place far from Heaven, like one dies as a mortal, but a second time. The second place had no name. It was a place where equality existed, because despite their exponential differences, Angels and Demons alike were sent to. It was a place where peace existed where ranks and Judgment and divinity did not. Both Heaven and Hell at once, and at the same time neither one. In Adam's opinion, this world sounded better than the white expanses of God's serene, perfect, largely overrated kingdom.

But instead of going here, he would be sent to the World, where he would exist as something that was difficult to define but could essentially be compared to a ghost.

In truth, Adam would have gladly gone to Hell, but Hell would certainly not admit an Angel, exiled or no. Hell, defined by humans, was a place of fire and wrath that was for the evilest of beings. But, in fact, Hell was not horrible or fiery at all; because it was a place that even most normal, vaguely kind people went after death. It was Heaven that was reserved for the most worthy and holy and saintlike beings. Hell was full of all types of people, of all generosities and levels of decency. It would be much, much easier to fit in there, because, to put it plainly, Heaven was full of stuck up, egotistical 'Angels' in an environment that was constantly demanding and unforgiving. And while most of the Angels started out as decent, kind, wonderful people, their humble mortal outlook withered with the realization of their title.

Adam understood why he was placed among the high Angels. He had tried his hardest not to let his title become him, and evidently it had worked.

On Earth, he would miss the others within the elite; they, too, had worked hard to not let their egos take control. They were still the good, wonderful people they were when they arrived. It was also they who, despite Adam's sentence, understood and even forgave his crimes. But it was not always the good, wonderful Angels who delivered Judgment. Something that was, in Adam's opinion, true, but he had never dared to voice, was that the Angels, in general, were much more forgiving and wise than God himself. It seemed, at times, that the Angels might as well have been God; they certainly did enough of his work to be.

Adam felt bronze, chained bracelets being clasped to his wrists and feet. Bronze was said to be the Devil's medium, and Adam now knew why. Where metal met skin, his skin burned- actually burned- and felt if he would catch fire. After a minute the burn started to spread slowly over his body, even where he didn't touch the bronze. He bit his tongue: it was all he could do not to howl in pain. The burn sank into his flesh when there was no longer any room for it to spread. It was the most excruciating pain he had felt for a long time, and in fact, it reminded him of dying as a mortal: burned in the Salem Witch Trials nearly 300 years ago.

Vaguely, Adam wondered if Demons felt the same pain he was experiencing when they touched silver, a symbol of the Angels. Literally, the bronze burned through him. He moaned aloud with the worst pain that anyone, it seemed, could physically experience. It burned and burned until Adam actually started deteriorating. And then all he could see was blackness, a color he had not seen for three centuries.

His body was gone completely. The audience of Angels was dead silent. All that remained of Adam Melrose were the bronze shackles that had bound him, and destroyed his body. No one moved. Only when the silhouette uttered, "dismissed," did they start heading back to their tasks, in near silence. Once their role model and friend, Adam was Dead; lost forever below on the Earth.