10

Gallagher

08/29/13

Chronicles of Rephen

Rephen stood atop the great spirals of the King's palace, and looked out upon the whites and greens that adorned the tops of the buildings for as far as the eye could see. It was a great empire, reaching far and wide. The buildings played a sort of game with one another, hiding behind and darting away as the flat ground stretched to the horizon. He bit into the loaf of bread he had in his hand, and dipped back the bowl of deep red wine. He chewed slowly, savoring the flavor and taste of the wine as it soaked the stale bread from the King's mass surplus of food.

A great tremor ran through the castle, and the Earth below seemed to shake at its foundations. A great, thunderous noise was heard, and soon the spirals began to sink, and the very spiral Rephen was perched upon began to crack. There was a roar that followed the falling debris, and then an aged, angry groan that rose up from the pit that was forming below.

Rephen deftly leapt backwards, moving a few buildings away to find stable ground, and watched as the castle fell into the Earth itself, and sank deeper and deeper into the pits of Hell. Almost to confirm the destination, black tendrils spooled up from the spirals, and up rose a large, dark beast. Head bowed by the force of it rushing upwards, pieces of the castle fell all around as the dirt mixed with the creature's black figure, and soon two shoulders burst forth from the ground. While the groaning of the beast and moaning of the Earth came together, its shoulder heaved upwards as an arm was drawn out of the pit, and came to rest before Rephen; two finger tips just touching his feet.

He looked up at the two red orbs of deep hate that rested in the middle of its head, and saw the anguish of the King. His body was held in the darkness, and it was being ripped to shreds.

"A wise man once implored me not to take a deal with the Devil." Rephen's voice was quiet, but the breeze it mimicked pierced the howling noise and went straight to the beast's mind: a mind forged from the fusion of a man's folly and Satan's treachery. For the Devil had only created a force of great hate and anger, and the King had sold his soul long ago to fuel this monster. And now it had awakened.

Rephen folded his hands and bowed his head, touching his nose to his fingers. His cloak swirling about him in the great winds, suddenly stopped, and floated away from his body, only being kept down by lightly pulling against his arms. Then in a burst of black light with crimson sparks from his hands, a column of the blackest air came down from the Heavens and ran right between his hands as he threw his head back. Discarding his overcoat with amazing speed, he threw his right and back and slammed it into the Earth before him, with the column of air running from the back of his hand up along his arm and disappearing from the sky. This blackness was seen ebbing along his arm, and soon began pulsing at his hand as he dug into the ground, wrenching his fingers into a fist, and tendrils streaked from his body as he heaved backwards, crimson light exploding from his body with every heave he gave, drawing something out of the dirt upon which he stood.

Soon, he had his fingers wrapped around a handle, wrought iron and black leather wrapped in a spiraling fashion along its length. At the pommel was a simple cross, a keychain attached to the end of it. From this hung a small emblem, made of steel, that bore resemblance to the Anarchist's symbol. And above the grip was the largest hand guard, seemingly made from stone due to its size; but it was made from the very same iron as the handle. It was in layers, having a simple, straight guard going across to having a smaller one on top, but from there were many curling and curving ends that turned towards the blade and protected the knuckles. The blade protruded smoothly from the guard, as the guard had been drawn up against the base of the blade; where in the center of the blade the guard had spiked up to, and going outwards it recessed towards the hand, revealing the smoked titanium of the blade itself.

As he continued to throw his elbow up, now drawing the blade to its full length, he removed the point from the Earth, the end of the pommel reaching a little over his head. Deftly swinging the blade around, he brought it in front of him, leveling it towards the demon. The tip of the blade had two beaks that ran from the point towards the hand, but did not cover anywhere near an eighth of its length.

And so Rephen stood, his right side facing the beast: his boots placed firmly, the silver buckles open and flared at his shin; his black pants tucked smoothly in, the many loops and hooks offered many blades of many sorts to Rephen's easy disposal; and the two belts that adorned his waist displayed a few swords of short length that could dispatch many foes. With his overcoat off, a black button-down shirt was revealed. The two top buttons were undone, revealing his pale chest speckled with dirt and seemingly smoked by the air which had stained his arm. His cross seemed a weight as it hung below his collar bones, and the necklace to his dog tags a silver trail leading out of sight. The sleeves were rolled back to just cover his elbows. His left arm was held back, the smoked gauntlet curled slightly with his fingers, only a small amount of skin visible between its spikes and his sleeve. His right arm outstretched, boldly displaying the Arbitrary Judge of the Damned, all of its many executions could be felt in its dark aura, the pain of the vanquished seen in its sheer size.

"You have sealed your fate with Satan, and so you will perish."

A great wind beckoned the attention of the Judge standing there, and the beast's vast arm was swinging towards him, rushing along the ground, knocking trees and rubble up into the air as it sped towards Rephen.

Calmly pointing the sword towards the oncoming tide of destruction, the Judge brought the blade back around and over his shoulder, bracing his feet against the ground and placing the sword across his shoulders, bracing it along his left arm. He bent down, turning his back towards the oncoming storm of debris and broken Earth. Just as his fingertips touched the ground, what remained of it, the torrent hit him, and so he was pushed across the destroyed grass and once sound footing, tendrils of the blackest matter spiking up in a trail left by his feet and fingers, racing after the flurry of rubble that dared to oppose Rephen.

With a deft but powerful movement, Rephen jabbed the blade with his left elbow, forcefully sending it out in an arc to come back to his right side; halting the torrent of dark debris, seemingly stopping it in the air. Turning to his toes, the Judge grasped the blade with both hands and launched himself forwards, the black tendrils spiking behind each of his powerful footsteps, pushing away chunks of Earth behind him as he covered the short distance to his target. From below the waist, he swung the blade upwards, across his body, and struck the cloud of dirt as if it were a solid object, sending it flying up and back around to the other side of the monster, leaning back to halt the rearward progress of its arm.

He straightened his back slightly, walking calmly around the edge of the sinkhole that had emerged, the point of the blade dipping into the abyss as he looked up, the light filtering through the dark cloud, casting a filthy light over Rephen.

The monster moved slowly forwards, covering the great void that sloped away before Rephen's feet, and soon he was staring up into the swirling dirt, watching the two orbs almost directly above him, seemingly a part of the darkened sky.

Bowing forwards, he brought one knee to the ground. A small crater forming beneath it, the heel of his other boot slowly left the ground, and he arced his head upwards as he pushed off, leaving black tendrils spiking away in all directions, cracking the ground he had kneeled upon.

He burst through the floating matter of the beast, leaving waves in his wake through the dark particles of its mass. Approaching the eyes, Rephen rolled his shoulder back, bringing up his knees, and turned to bring his sword turning over his head, timing the turn so that the middle of the blade made contact with the mass of hatred on the apex of the swing. His shoulder tensed, his body horizontal, as he drove the sword into the red orb, his legs turning to give force to his swing; the sound of metal shearing could be heard, a sound like that of a million wires of copper, electrified, running along stainless steel. The wires of copper that were infused with this hatred seemed to spasm as the Arbitrary Judge of the Damned cut wire after wire, sending the once spherical mass spewing out bits and pieces in all directions, the dark matter pulsing from Rephen's strained arm up the blade, and finally split right through the orb infused with hate.

Continuing his upward arc and spin, Rephen came back down upon the next eye, unable to hear the beast's groans over the sound of the dirt swirling all around him. Both hands on the sword, he brought it down in front of him, destroying the second eye in the same way he did the first.

Coming out of the swing, he stretched his arms apart and let the wind take them upwards a little, bringing his heels up to point his knees outwards. Like a comet to Earth, he struck the densely packed dirt that made up the belt of the beast, and rose from the position that the force had pushed him into to walk towards the center of the demon.

The King's body was slowly falling down, and landed softly in the middle of this plateau. Rephen's eyes scanned over it, but took more attention to the dark area where the spine of the beast would be. From there a glowing red could be seen coming, and soon the glow stretched around the opening and a human figure, entirely black, came out and moved over to the King's body, walking in an odd, rigid manner; the knees coming up unnaturally high unnaturally quickly, and the feet striking out forwards, if there were feet at all. At the end of the legs were points, the same with the arms, and the head had spikes coming off from where hair would be. The red glow came from the base of these spikes, and the eyes. A small smile cracked its pitch black complexion, in no way skin, in the form of a crimson red line.

"Oh, so nice of you to Judge me, Rephen. I see you're allowed to determine what's right and what's wrong. How special." The "s"s hissed through the black teeth, outlined by a red that spewed forth from its throat. "Those pretty little eyes would be a wonderful… tool to have at my disposal." It walked over the King's body, its feet piercing the corpse as it strutted around. "This man had no such eyes, only a short sighted soul," it sighed mournfully, now tearing the body to shreds with its feet. "But, you are naught but a man, so let's see if we can't get a rise out of you!" it cheerfully strutted over, pointed arms stretching towards Rephen. Unfazed, he swatted the hands away, crimson sparks coming from them as if they were metal.

Immediately after this maneuver, the dark being's sporadic movements picked up, and a flurry of strikes emerged, constantly seeking to pierce Rephen's body and tear his flesh apart. He skillfully backpedaled, drawing the sword in graceful defensive arcs. Approaching the end of the plateau, he turned his back outward, allowing a strike to go by following his blade. He struck the pommel into its chest, and then delivered a ferocious uppercut with his elbow, ending with a backwards kick into the chest to send it off its feet, to sprawl onto the ground. Twitching, its feet dug into the belt of the beast and rose itself up, unnaturally slowly in opposition with any possible spine. The half circle of red was constantly flying around, as the smile was illuminated ever more brightly as the crimson light increased in intensity.

"You can't kill me, I'm a sin! An absence! There is no hope for a man like you to vanquish me!" Rephen took a step forwards, and swung the blade down, bringing the Arbitrary Judge through the dirt, and upwards to slice off one of its arms, and continued the arc to gracefully remove the other arm. He stepped forwards, allowing his body to turn 'round, and brought the blade in sideways to remove its head. The body fell to its knees, and then naturally landed on the ground. The head went upwards a little, turning slightly. The half circle still shone, but as a frown, "but, I am Wrath, I am the deep seated lack, I am powerful."

"You are damned. And, by the power invested in me by God, I damn you to Hell." And with those binding words, Rephen sliced his thumb on the blade, and traced the cross on Wrath's forehead. Over the sickly smell of burnt flesh, the blood boiled to Wrath's shriek of an agony beyond that of which it had ever inflicted, and all of its remains dissolved into black smoke. "You're a demon! You aren't a man, you'll never be saved, you are more damned than any sin! I curse you to be subject to Satan's judgment!" And the shrieks faded from hearing.

Kneeling, Rephen slowly brought the Judge up, letting the point stick into the ground. The black air snaked from his arm and along the blade, concentrating on the point. He smoothly forced the blade into the ground, and the tendrils snaked around it, enveloping it as it disappeared. Rephen drew his hand back from the ground, and there was nothing but a black streak of Earth to show that the Arbitrary Judge of the Damned had left this dimension.

Stunning, brilliant white light enveloped the whole area, and Rephen rose to his feet. The soft symphony of angels could be heard, and a tall, bronzed man descended from the light above. As the angel looked upon his craft, he asked, "Rephen, you aren't impervious to the sins or their curses. You are bound by Wrath's words. You aren't an angel, you don't have the protection. Why did you do all this?"

"Aren't you supposed to be omniscient, Archangel?"

"And aren't you supposed to be a man?"

"I'm a lot of things," Rephen replied, drawing his cloak back over his shoulders. "One of them being a Warrior."

Michael laughed, saying, "aye, that you are Rephen, that you are. It's very human, to be a lot of things." And there was silence, and the white light faded, revealing the two men standing on a large rock in the middle of the sinkhole. Strikingly opposite: Rephen, a little shorter and broader in the shoulders, had his head bent slightly, clad in all black, a dark complexion to his face and short hair, covered in dirt. Michael, the Archangel, stood proud, in sandals and dazzling white, curly hair as bright as his angel blue eyes. These two opposites looked out upon the destruction, in deep contemplation.

The ground beneath Rephen's feet began to turn into a murky cess pit, and deformed, shadowy hands reached up, trying to grab his ankles. He stepped back, calmly, watching as the filth followed, slowly.

"You only have so much time until they pull you down there, and the Judge won't follow you. Neither will the title."

"I'm more than a blade and a title, Archangel."

"I know that, believe me," he said with a smile, looking over the ghostly hands that yearned for Rephen's punishment, "but they greatly assist in staving off those forces of Evil."

"In that case, they make me weak. I would be better off without them."

"Careful Rephen, there are lengths even I will not go without God's grace."

Rephen grunted, walking in a large circle, the Underworld sluggishly calling. He then spoke,

"That's because you are naught without God's grace, angel."

Now Michael grunted, squatting by the small marsh and peering into the depths of the mud. Rephen's boots quietly landed on the ground, as he slowly stretched his time, thinking. A breeze came from the far North, and swept pleasantly over the plain, testing a few pebbles and tugging at Rephen's coattails. It was quite a pleasant day outside, the Sun warmly lit up the world, and the clouds hung sparsely in the blue sky.

"Whatever God plans to do with you, it is the farthest God's ever gone." The Archangel said with a long, heavy sigh, running his fingers through his curly hair, "but alas, a weapon would do you some good down there. Would you like to use one of yours, or would you like me to Forge something?" At that time, the chorus of angels increased in volume, both number and song. Michael looked up, over his shoulder as he stood, to see the sandals of another Archangel break the clouds, and Gabriel gracefully descended. A lighter skin tone than Michael and black hair, Gabriel was only a little shorter and less muscular. He approached Rephen, after offering salute to Michael, and looked over him with his angel blue eyes.

"The Lord wants you to use a weapon which Michael will create." He tossed a scroll of parchment behind him, which Michael caught, "and I do hope that it will deliver you from Evil."

Turning to Michael, he said with a light laugh, "quite a piece of work, this one."

"Aye, he embodies my vision well. If only I knew what it is he sees, though." He finished with a shaking head, leaping up into the Heavens with Gabriel.

Rephen stood and looked up into the clouds for a while, feeling another breeze brush against his eyelashes. But, his thoughts were interrupted by the hungry hands that had reached his boots again. He took a few steps away, then leapt out of the crater, landing on a strip of concrete.

He sped off, running at breakneck speed through the standing buildings; darting left and right, avoiding open windows and rolling over railings. He left shallow boot prints wherever his feet touched the ground, which slowly filled with a disgusting, translucent grey mud. Within a short amount of time, Rephen slowed to approach a church. He let his legs pump the final, few strides as he came to a halt before the simple oak doors, surrounded by a white wall that led to black roofing, which in turn gave way to a large steeple that reached far above any other building and bore a simple cross.

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On the door he traced the Sign of the Cross, and reverently turned the handle, stepping inside. The inside very much so resembled the outside: two rows of oak pews on dark stone ground, before a white block altar.