Chapter 54:

Volume 2: Chapter 5: A Festival of Confrontation - Part 1

Nephalem


Gabriel had not left her home since returning to Heaven. After coming through the gates, she had ignored her brother, Michael, and went straight to home. There she had spent the past day crying.

Homes in Heaven looked nothing like human homes, which were abodes with four walls, a floor, and a ceiling. Gabriel’s house had no walls, no ceiling, and technically no floor since Heaven didn’t have any ground. It did have columns. It also had some furniture, like her divan and a bath—though baths were a recent addition that had come from the humans who lived in Heaven after they died—but that was it.

It probably wasn’t accurate to call what she lived in a home. At least, that was what Gabriel had come to believe since coming back from Earth. This place didn’t feel like much of a home anymore.

Gabriel stared up at the sky through sore eyes that felt puffy and irritated.

Heaven was a place that was blessed by the sun. There were no nights in Heaven. It was always daytime there. Many years ago, this place had also been graced by God’s presence, but Father’s love and warmth had been steadily diminishing with each year.

As she continued to look up, lying on her bed, a shadow blocked out the sun, coming inexorably closer with every passing second. It was Michael, descending on wings of pure white. Gabriel used to find his fourteen wings impressive. Indeed, she had always admired his wings. Today, however, she didn’t want to even look at them.

“Go away, Michael,” Gabriel said.

“Are you still sulking?” Michael asked.

“Did you not hear me? I said go away!”

Gabriel didn’t even want to be in her brother’s presence. Just looking at him was enough to make her stomach churn. It made her remember what she had been forced to do.

“You know that you cannot avoid talking to me forever,” Michael said. “You’re an archangel just like I am. At some point, you will need to get over yourself and continue doing your duties.”

“If doing my duties mean killing innocent people, then you can count me out.” Gabriel turned around, presenting her back to Michael as she buried her face into the sheets of her divan.

Michael’s sigh caressed her ear. “If you’re worried about the Nephalem, then you needn’t be. It seems your attack was not as successful as you seem to think it was. He is alive and well.”

“What?” Gabriel shot up and turned to stare at Michael. “What did you just say?”

“The Nephalem is alive.”

She didn’t doubt her brother’s words. Angels couldn’t lie. Father had made angels to be perfect beings, and perfect beings did not, could not, lie.

“I see. So, Jacob is alive.” Gabriel pressed her hands to her face to keep Michael from seeing the tears of relief that welled up in her eyes.

“The Nephalem is apparently more resilient than even I could have imagined,” Michael continued. “It seems Nephalem are highly resistant to angelic attacks. I can only assume the same is true for devil magic. Since it seems he was not killed, I am going to task Uriel with killing him—”

“No!!” Gabriel shouted suddenly, startling Michael into taking several steps back. “Please don’t send Uriel to kill him!”

“Listen, Gabriel,” Michael began, “I understand that you have grown… attached to this boy for some reason. However, I cannot overlook him. For the sake of this world, he must die. Since you failed, I have no choice but to send Uriel to finish him off.”

Gabriel did not want Uriel going anywhere near Jacob. Uriel was an angel who enjoyed his task of killing a little too much. He took pride in it and would often brag about the heathens and blasphemers that he had killed. Jacob would suffer even more if Uriel got ahold of him.

“Give… give me another chance,” Gabriel said.

Michael frowned at her, his eyebrows raised, expression bemused as though she had said something he didn’t understand. “Another chance? Gabriel, not only did you fail to kill the Nephalem last time, but you hate the very idea of it.”

“I won’t let Uriel go anywhere near him!” Gabriel said. “If it must be done, then I’ll be the one to do it.”

“You’ve always been stubborn.” Michael sighed. “Very well. I shall give you one more chance, but you must destroy him this time.”

“I-I will,” Gabriel said.

Despite telling Michael that she would kill Jacob, she did not want to. She wanted him to live. He deserved to live. More than that, he deserved to be happy.

It was not to be. Michael had decreed that Jacob needed to die, and if she didn’t do it, then someone else, Uriel, would be given that task. If that happened, Jacob would suffer needlessly. That was why Gabriel would be the one to end his life.

Even if doing so broke her heart.


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