A demon, born with the possibility of becoming an angel, desperate to escape Hell, approaches a girl whose soul has been recently condemned and strikes a deal: if she helps him, he'll cancel her condemnation and help stop a much bigger threat--Armageddon. Together, they cross the country in an attempt to stop the breaking of the seven seals, enlisting help from angels, demons, and humans alike. This is the prologue. The title is only temporary, and it may change.0
Paranormal fiction / Magic realism
Emily Speth (United States)
--Joel C. Rosenberg
"But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
--Book of Daniel, 12:4
"The treachery of demons is nothing compared to the betrayal of an angel."
--Brenna Yovanoff, The Space Between
The vessel he currently inhabited was his new favorite. The man who prayed for deliverance each night--and whose prayers were certainly answered--was Cambodian, third generation. His hair was black and carefully styled, his eyes the color of freshly ground coffee beans. He wore a cream-colored Italian suit and expensive dress shoes to match.
All in all, not a bad vessel to possess.
He walked next to Dumah, hands clasped behind his back, listening intently.
"We're currently training thirty new legions of roughly three thousand each," Dumah was saying, smoothing his vessel's hair back. Dumah, although a lesser demon and usually one to be looked down on as such, possessed power. As a prince of Hell and presider over the silence of death, he led tens of thousands of angels of destruction. They certainly used the term "angel" lightly here, for the only angels residing in Hell were the Fallen.
"How soon do you expect to be fully prepared?" he asked the demon.
"Before the year is up," Dumah replied. "Exael and Furculor wander the mortal realm as we speak. The first seal will be broken within six months' time, the others soon to follow."
"Exael? You entrust such an important job to one of such minor status?"
Dumah growled. "Exael is able to roam the earth unchallenged. He has been anticipating this moment for centuries. He will perform well." He paused. "Of course, our preparation is for nothing if you cannot guarantee us access to the Kingdom."
"I assure you, the gates will be flung wide in welcome." He grinned, his teeth a white flash in the dim lighting. "Every point of entry will be open to you and your legions, and every point of egress will be blocked. And below in the mortal realm, churches will burn. The faith of the human race will be destroyed. Religion will be traded for anarchy. There will be no shelter in the Kingdom, and there will be no shelter on the Earth."
"What you suggest, then, is total annihilation."
He shrugged, the smile never leaving his face. "We are speaking of Armageddon. Millennia in the making. Foretold by thousands of humans, angels, and devils alike. Aren't you anxious to have a little fun?"
Dumah growled in pleasure, imagining the carnage. His fingertips twitched as if claws were attached to the ends of them. "Very anxious," he agreed. "The others are growing impatient. They lust for war."
"Good," he mused. "Excellent, in fact. I trust Asmodeus and Sonneillon are overseeing the preparations?"
"Yes, as well as Berith and Astaroth."
"Astaroth?" He laughed, and the sound grated on the air around them. "That old goat's still around?"
Dumah chuckled. "He might not be our best war strategist, but he's the most efficient trainer we've had since the height of the Byzantine Empire. Whips the new ones into shape in no time at all, saves Asmodeus and the others from any of that dirty work."
"Hmm. What of Beelzebub? What of Lucifer?"
"Zeb's everywhere at once, carrying out orders and giving us more. He's like a whirlwind. Unbelievable."
"I believe it."
"As for Lucifer...he rarely emerges, uses Zeb and Beleth to relay information back and forth. His anticipation is building, as is his wrath. Mistakes are few and far between."
"Lucifer has been anticipating this since he fell."
Dumah made a sound at the back of his throat. "Indeed. He wishes to see you, when you've had a chance to view our plans and discussed further development. Sonneillon's are especially intricate."
He dipped his head. "I'll be sure to stop by. And I look forward to hearing your strategies. It's been too long since my last visit."
Dumah shot him a sideways glance, his eyes a luminescent green even whilst possessing a vessel. "You're sure the Kingdom is unaware? You're sure that the destruction brought on by the breaking of the seals will go unnoticed?"
"Ever since the apocalypse of 2012 failed to occur, Michael and the others have let their guard down. And even if the seals draw their attention, by then it will be too late. They believe the armies of Hell are inadequate to stage an attack as large-scale as the apocalypse foretold by the prophets. I suppose they're in for a rather nasty surprise, don't you?"
Dumah smirked. "That, Simiel, would be an understatement."
Simiel, one of the seven archangels and brother to them all, turned to the demon and said, "2012 is behind us. This time, the seals will be found, and all will be destroyed. We will not fail again."
Dumah walked in silence for a moment. Then he said, "About the seals...Simiel, an angel is required."
"The incantations cannot be performed, and the seals will not crumble unless representatives from both sides are present. You know this. It was the problem we ran into in 2012."
"I am aware, Dumah," Simiel snapped, then he closed his eyes and smoothed the collar of his suit. "I--Lucifer, rather--still has followers in the Kingdom. If I were to leave, Michael would notice. But I will send you someone. That you can count on." His mouth twisted into a cold smile. "And when Earth burns...when the fires of Hell blaze in every city and every town...when the Kingdom lies in ruin...then, friend, we will celebrate."
As angel and demon slid off into the murkier depths of Hell, drawn towards the muffled chants and grinding of chains and the thunder of millions of footsteps, they failed to sense that another pair of eyes watched them. Neither of them noticed the shadow lurking among the other shadows pressed against the wall. But he'd noticed them as they passed by, and slipped from his cell to follow. He heard their every word, and he swore never to forget.
He knew of the plans of Armageddon. He knew of the archangel Simiel's involvement. He knew of Michael's ignorance. He cursed himself as he'd done countless times before. If he weren't an Eruit, it would be easy to forget and fade into the background, watching without protest as the worlds above him crumbled and burned. But he was an Eruit, and he'd paid dearly for it, and it made it impossible to sit back and watch.
He would have to wait. He'd have to bide his time and wait. He knew his first solo venture into the mortal realm was fast approaching, which gave him a distinct advantage. It meant Carreau and Minos no longer deemed him a threat. It meant their guard might slip.
And when it did, he would be ready.
Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1
Attention to mechanics
- You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
- Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
- Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
- Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
- Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Technique and tight writing
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Style and originality
- I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Authentic and vivid setting
- The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.