There was an air of serenity surrounding Asmodei as he followed Lino’s flying departure from the golden hall, his eyes bearing emotions unfitting his youthful-looking face. His shoulders fell but an inch downward, yet it seemed as though a world of burdens had been lifted off them all the same. Before he had a chance to get lost in thoughts, a wisp of faint energy materialized next to him, its form and color indistinct, seemingly there but not at the same time. The wisp seemed to be rejecting the world surrounding it as space around it began bending and tearing, clean gashes and uneven cuts rounding it. Asmodei glanced sideways, smiling faintly as he held up his arm as though with the intention to touch the wisp, but instead keeping it away from the tearing space and merely keeping it there, frozen.
“... it’s been a long time.” Asmodei said in a low voice.
“... it has,” the wisp replied in a coarse, distant and distorted one, as though it was traveling through numerous dimensions before reaching Asmodei. “I made it in time.”
“You did take your sweet time choosing,” Asmodei said, chuckling. “Why him?”
“Because he can withstand it.” the wisp replied.
“Can he, though?” Asmodei mumbled, glancing toward the distance, his eyes searching the figure that had long since disappeared. “He’s still young.”
“... I had to take the risk,” the wisp said. “And I chose to believe in him.”
“Remember the first time we spoke after I obtained my Will?” Asmodei suddenly changed the topic, switching his eyes back onto the wisp. “I believe it was just after the Yuel’s death.”
“... it was.”
“You told me that her death was worth my waking. Do you still believe that?”
“...” the wisp remained silent for a moment, as though contemplating. “I do.”
“... I’m glad to hear it. I don’t though. She was the greatest Prime that has ever existed. Could have made your journey much easier.”
“And you were the greatest Angel.”
“Hah, I was, once, I suppose. I still dream about it, sometimes. The grand imposition of Scorching Firmament, the towers piercing into the void, the pure, white pillar of light shouldering the echoes of dismay. Beneath my feet brethren, their wings spread out, rhythmically fluttering in a symposium that never ceased. And Yuel,” he added, smiling lightly. “When I met her, I knew she was unmatched. In everything. It was the very first time in my existence that I had begun to have doubts. And, spending days with her, furthered the gap. Then, one by one, all my brothers and sisters began Falling. Yet, I remained firm. I was blind, Ataxia. The light had blinded me.”
“... you were always a believer, Asmodei,” the wisp said, though seemingly forever emotionless. “With the Scripture, with us, with Gaia, with Yuel... and with yourself. You always believed we could make a world worth living in. While we were concocting ways to uproot each other and spread our Word to the living, you were the conduit binding us, however meekly. That’s why Yuel went after Gaia instead of you,” the wisp paused for a moment as if it was remembering something it had forgotten a long, long time ago. “Because, of all things in this world, she believed in you above them all.”
“... you are too kind. You always were.” Asmodei chuckled faintly. “Perhaps I was a believer in all of us, but you were the one who always saw the best in us. Even today you do. That’s a conviction none of us ever had. I envy you, you know? To be able to chase that conviction so fervently, no matter what it takes.”
“... you shouldn’t. It’s a thankless occupation.”
“Oh, ho ho ho. Is that humor that I sense?” Asmodei suddenly laughed heartily. “Never thought I’d live to see the day.”
“I decided to indulge you once.”
“... I’m sorry, Ataxia. I had failed you.” Asmodei said. “I had failed the world. I... had failed myself and her belief in me. I’m not going to ask for your forgiveness because I know you don’t engage the concept, but I will ask that, should you ever get the opportunity, apologize in my name to Yuel. She deserves it.”
“... you were always sentimental, but old age had really amplified it.” the wisp said.
“... I hope it works out with the kid,” Asmodei said. “But, be careful with him. His heart... is almost bridging the point of no return.”
“... I know.”
“... I’ve given away my last gift, I’ve spoken all that ought to be spoken and seen all that ought to be seen. Though, there is one last favor I need to ask of you.”
“...” the wisp remained silent, waiting.
“I... I had forgotten our last moment together, with shame I admit,” Asmodei said, lowering his head slightly. “I’d like to relive it, one last time, before I go.”
“... you really are overly sentimental.”
“I am. Will you indulge me one last time, old friend?”
“...” the wisp said nothing, but Asmodei suddenly felt a faint trace of energy pass up through the soles of his feet, circulating his whole body before entering his brain.
“... thank you.”
“... you have done your job, Asmodei. Rest now.”
A gates tall beyond description, cased in gold and gems and diamonds from top to bottom, slanted eye on each side of it, burning in golden blaze eternally, guarded a city in the clouds beyond. They were firmly shut, before them only a tall giant, nearly six meters, and a shapeless phantom of shadow and entropy. The former was clad in full set of golden armor, similarly colored, towering wings flung behind his back, shining in their glorified radiance. The phantom before him was barely half his height, repeatedly flickering in and out of existence, its shapeless tangles weaving like ropes, its edges like vaporizing water and smoke mingling together. Its eyes were starkly red; not of blood or of flames, but red much deeper and darker, without shadows or highlights. The man’s expression read a faint trace of guilt, though it appeared stoic on the surface. The two stared at each other ceaselessly, as though time and space surrounding them was eternally frozen in its singularity. The phantom moved ever so closer, its ethereal body lifting off the ground till its perceived head was at the same level as man’s. From the shadows a human-like arm, coiled in darkness and smoke, sickly pale in its hue, emerged, crossing over the small distance and holding up the man’s chin gently. The latter felt sudden burst of cold and warmth mingling at the point of touch, as space around him began to flicker and vibrate, his whole body systematically trying to expel the energy, rejecting it completely. However, nothing showed on man’s expression but a passing flicker in his eyes. The hand remained but for a moment before the phantom withdrew it back into the shadows. There was a trace of abstruse sadness in its eyes, wholly unfitting the image. The man felt his body calm down as the alien energy departed from him, yet he also felt a strange sense of loneliness surge from the depths of his being. The two remained staring at each other in silence, as though both were afraid to speak out their minds from fear of anyone else hearing them. However, eyes hardly spoke much for either; red and golden mingled in invisible trace, in a puncturing array of light which broke apart the dimension before traveling.
“You are afraid,” the phantom suddenly spoke, its voice heavily distorted and distant, frigid in tone even. “Don’t be.”
“... I am not afraid.” the man replied.
“By the decree of the Word, Chaos and Order shan’t mingle,” the phantom continued. “And so they shan’t mingle.”
“...” the man’s lips trembled for a moment before he managed to control his expression once again.
“I am a Prime, Asmodei,” the phantom continued. “A being born to die.”
“You won’t die. You’re stronger than her.”
“She’s the World, Asmodei, and I’m merely a lingering shadow of a rejected calling. That is why He’s ordering me, and not you, to go. You can yet change this World. Your light is brilliant, beset for a stage far grander than Firmament.”
“...” the man remained silent while his facade began cracking.
“Goodbye, Asmodei. Val’hul kah’hul.”
Within a flicker of time, the phantom had disappeared, leaving the man alone standing on the grand bridge between the sky and earth. His eyes widened, shine in them dimming, as red tears began strolling down his cheeks. Suddenly, the golden eyes began losing their shine, turning silver, as cracks began spreading like spider webs across his armor. The wings behind him screeched and screamed in agony, pushing to tear themselves off of him, while every inch of his being began convulsing. With a burst of chaotic energy, the golden armor blew out off of him, revealing a body full of pulsating, ebony veins. They wriggled repeatedly like worms, yet he didn’t let out a sound. Red tears streamed on like river, eyes flickering eternally between silver and golden, his body, inch by inch, shortening. Yet, in his mind, only the phantom’s last words resonated. Nothing else. Over and over again, like an image bouncing off the mirrors ceaselessly into infinity. Just the words.