We are seven.

We have been seven since the first light of the universe filled the void, and we shall be seven when the last flicking ember gutters and dies, heralding the return of the darkness. That rule is unbreakable, though Heaven might rail against it with all its impotent fury. Though they, who once we called brothers, might wish us exterminated, their desires have no hold over us. Immortal we stand, undying, eternal, forever; at least in number. Should one of us perish another shall rise to take our place. We are bound by the angelic code, as are they. Our numbers cannot be diminished. What option had they but to banish us from the halls of Heaven? But let us begin at the beginning.

In the Egyptian Sin Wars we served, fighting beneath the Heavenly banner of the triple solar symbol, guided by the commands of my brother. Mortals thought us servants of Horus, the human god of vengeance, but we were much more. Demon slayer was our title. Our sole purpose was to settle the ancient quarrel between Heaven and Hell. We were not plucked from the masses of the nine circles and trained as warriors; we were created knowing only war.

No war lasts forever. Such was our fury that when the demon horde lay vanquished beneath our feet the very fabric of Hell had been transformed. The firelands were frozen, the burning pools of noisome brimstone quenched beneath glittering ice.

Of the proud army we once called brothers there were but eight of us remaining. Our kinsmen were left behind where they fell, or condemned to a state of nothingness by the venom of demon wounds. Perhaps they were not truly dead, but by no measurement known to Heaven could they be called truly alive. 616 mutilated angels forsaken on the battlefield. Such was their reward for an eternity of service and loyalty.

We are seven.

Yet, as told, eight of us stood before the gates of Heaven, bathed in the black blood and putrid venom of the countless demons we had slain. We had departed to trumpets and fanfare, loyal soldiers marching to fight a just war. We returned as battle-twisted veterans, unwanted by those in whose name we achieved victory. What place did we have in a victorious Heaven? For we were sons who knew only war and destruction. Our endeavors against the stinking horde had transformed us into powerful and unpredictable immortals.

Proudly we stood while the gates of Heaven were closed to us forever. Undesirables, unwanted, outcasts— the words still burn in our minds. As dark angels we had free rein to wander the world of men and its many insignificant kingdoms. The judgment passed upon was cruel. Immortal we were, but we had been removed from the Grace of Heaven, and for that we suffered. Some had their wings clipped, others atrophied. These wounds pained our flesh, but the loss of dignity ravaged our spirits.

The mortals of Egypt, on whose soil our kinsmen had shed their immortal blood, spoke of how our service to Horus was at an end. Our master was pleased, and rallied us to aid Anubis in the never-ending struggle to protect the underworld from Apophis, the demon-serpent. Thus was our ability to fly taken, for we were bound to the depths, not the eternal sky. Poisonous words except in the feeble minds of mortals, who pitiful senses could not comprehend our true fate.

We are seven.

Yet eight of us stood before the gates of Heaven so long ago. The law was immutable—we would be seven, and no more. In order that the law be fulfilled one of us would remain in Heaven, but not as a hero returned in glory or honored guest. No celestial palace would they call home. Their fate was to be caged. Only when one of us fell would the eighth of our number be released from their bondage.

The decision as to who should be imprisoned was not ours to make. Eve, the most ruthless of our kind, was chosen by the Archangel Adam. Behind closed gates she would stay, the eyes of the fiery, six-winged guardians of the Throne of Tetragrammaton—the Seraphim High Guard—ever upon her.

Why Eve we did not ask, for we knew no answer would be given. They could ignore our words, but they could not deny us our thoughts. Eve was the greatest of our number, a glaive wielder whose prowess had accounted for the existence of an unimaginable number of black-hearted demons during the long war. Ah, how her weapons sang, for they were forged and infused with the most powerful melodies ever known in the heavens.

Mortals forge weapons, but we angels forge power. Only when the physical shell was perfect, as befitted the ranks of Heaven, did we empower our weapons. Into each was whispered a unique song, a psalm attuned to the individual weapon, a hymn that gave the weapon life and purpose. Eve’s glaives held the Hymn of Sundering. No substance, divine or hellish, enchanted or mundane, could resist their deadly kiss. Such power was infused into those blades that the very walls of Heaven shook as each harmony was molded into shape. Never have I replicated their fury, and never shall I do so again.

To leave behind Eve in the Heavenly realm infuriated my brother. He spat no words, but his face was an open book to me. Though he would never admit it, even to himself, he and Eve were close. During the wars they were inseparable, fighting back-to-back on a mound of writhing demon corpses. As my mind’s eye gazed over those scenes, two warriors fighting as one, I realized the truth—ripping Eve from our ranks would render my brother incomplete.

We are immortals. No passing of time would erase this mischief from my brother’s mind, nor heal the open wound in his heart. It is strange, perhaps cruel, how things work out. In the last battle, before we unfurled the victory banner over the shattered remnants of Hell, Eve broke a piece of her heart and gave it to my brother. Around his neck it hung, and would do so for eternity.

We are seven.

The early days of our banishment were a source of great pain. The constant presence of Heaven poisoned our spirit, for although we had been cast out they would not allow us our freedom. Into our ears they whispered venomous thoughts, telling us our banishment to the mortal layer was in our best interests. As the Tree of Life grew from a seed, so vengeance festered and magnified within us. Perhaps we did dwell in ignorance, blinded by Heaven’s insidious claims, but the curtain of lies could not remain over our minds forever. My brother and I saw clearly the true nature of the scheme. Our banishment was not for our good, but to protect the pathetic lords of Heaven, to whom we had once bowed low. Alas, the others were still veiled to the truth.

Before our descent we made a pact to remain together, brothers in exile, defiant against those who had sinned against us. The mortals have a saying—the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Let me tell you now, it is paved with the blood of fallen angels. I know, for I have walked it.

We remained as one in deed and thought but for a short time. Two of them were pawns of Heaven. Their sentence was to run errands on the mortal layer for the ones who exiled us. This they did like lapdogs, never once questioning the banal nature of the deeds they were to carry out. It burdened me greatly to see the iron grip Heaven held on their hearts. These two we cast aside, for they could not be spared their fate.

My brother and I defected from the other three soon after, though we held no malice for them. Mortals speak of eternity, but they have no true grasp of its meaning. To be discarded from Heaven and the Light of Lights, to ponder the reality of being a fallen angel—it was too much for them. They had lost their will to rebel, and could serve no role in the new cause that burned and gnawed within the spirit of my brother and me. Vengeance would be ours.

We are seven no longer.

Free from Heaven’s final shackle, we were masters of our own existence, uncontrolled, unguided…

Centuries and millennia drifted by, like clouds in the sky. Our interest fell upon the mortals, and in particular the land of Zion. Here men dwelt in great multitudes, enclosed within a city as large as a continent. Instead, we walked as simple travelers. Our true nature was masked from mortal eyes. As fallen angels, we had developed many new powers. Disguised as mortals we penetrated their culture and absorbed their history.

They were ants compared to us, but we grew fond of them. The wars we fought of old were, in part, to preserve the human race. Heaven had created them as the reflection of angels, and we were assigned to protect those we considered our own. But only now, as outcasts, did we take the time to truly know the hearts of earth-bound men. The humans had been productive since the distant days of the Egyptian wars, and their technology fascinated us. Automated machines, the magic of being able to fly without wings, and artificial creatures known as robots—mankind, it seemed, had assumed the mantle of the gods.

Do not think they lived within a utopia, for the humans were weighed down by many burdens of their own making. Their lust for technology had created environmental problems—the planet’s resources, vast as they were, were being consumed, animals were hunted to extinction, pollution choked the skies and waters.

We were not gods. We could not tell if the world would ever recover from the rape, but we could at least nudge the humans in the right direction to making amends. We made Zion our home, and the Zionics welcomed us with open arms. We had found some measure of peace and acceptance that caused much agitation in Heaven, but we did not care—the humans were now our companions. They were loyal to us, and we would return that in times of distress. The sands of time ran long, and our status in the world of humans increased dramatically. Our endless knowledge elevated our standing in their eyes, and our solving of their political problems elevated our standing in their hearts. Though we did not seek dominion, we were drawn into the heart of power in Zion.

Since before our arrival centuries earlier, Zion had been a monarchy. Three thrones it boasted—one for the king, and two for his closest advisors. Time is the enemy of mortals, and the king was nearing the end of his allotted days. No son or daughter had he sired, and the burden of having no rightful heir weighed on his soul like a mountain. In all our days in Zion we had never once sought audience with any king, yet now one summoned us to his throne room. With sense far beyond the kin of mortals I could hear the old man’s heart thumping out its final beats, like the last grains of sand falling in an hourglass. Our discussion with the king was long, but the outcome short—he offered us the throne on his death.

I, being of a more diplomatic nature than my brother, accepted the offer with no hesitation. My brother’s mind and heart were, as always, elsewhere, and it took all of my powers of persuasion to convince him to accept. I would rule as king, and he would rule by my side as prince. It was not long afterward the king drew his final breath. As promised, I was appointed the new king, my brother at my side. We mourned the old king’s passing, for such was the way of the Zionics, but they also rejoiced, for they knew us to be strong and wise.

Though my brother was a prince, he saw himself as a general, charged with overseeing the country’s defenses against all external threats. I acquiesced, seeing that besides defending the great city, our great city, he would have free hand to pursue personal interests away from the politicking of court. A great time, by mortal reckoning, had passed, but vengeance against Heaven and the liberation of his beloved Eve still ruled his heart. An age of peace fell upon Zion.
During my reign I forged two new weapons of power. For my brother, I forged a blade imbued with the Hymn of Mending. His thirst for vengeance unquenched, it would serve him well should danger and suffering befall him. For myself, I forged the Blade of Immortal Death. Though my craving for battle had diminished, I knew that any threat that walked unbidden into our throne room would not be of mortal origin. Ah, you are undoubtedly wondering how an immortal can die? The weapon’s name is misleading, for it held no power to truly slay an immortal. Its enchantment would cut immortal flesh, rendering any so wounded incapacitated. In all the world of men it had no equal in that regard.
We had never feared mortals, and so armed we had little fear of immortals, for the blades would ensure any attacker was quickly defeated. To these I added for my brother the Shield of Undying and the War Crown of Victory. Forged of metal, imbued with power, and tempered with pride, they were perfect instruments. The humans have another saying—pride comes before a fall.

We had seen countless nations crumble and perish, and though we were immortal and without equal in the world of men, nothing lasts forever. Our peace was ended by a host of angels unleashed from Heaven. At their head marched the two betrayers, of whom we had long forgotten. Their goal was simple—to capture us and to bring about the end of our regime.

They were legion, and our resistance lasted but weeks. How many mortals gave their lives to protect us and how many angels were gravely wounded by my brother’s blade we cannot say, for they were immeasurable by any reckoning. In the end, the throne room was penetrated and we were overpowered by sheer weight of numbers. My beloved advisors, who with a little help from myself had managed to withstand the ravages of time remarkably well, were executed before our eyes.

Our punishment was exile once more. Torn from the mortal realm, we were dragged to the Hell Frost. Since the Egyptian Sin War, it had been a harsh landscape plagued with everlasting winters, the battle-torn ground undisturbed for thousands of years. It was a realm we knew well, for we had been here before. Hell Frost it might be now, but once this realm was known as Hell.

Since the end of the war, the war we had helped win, the white fields had been a sacred tomb to the fallen. Here, time had stood still. Our gaze fell upon the immortal skulls of angels and demons, silent witnesses to the savage conflict fought here. And now we were to be the only living inhabitants.

The fate of my brother was not identical to my own. Calmer, quiet, a diplomat more than a warrior, they sated themselves with shattering my blade and leaving me to roam the barren lands undefended. No doubt they thought there was no chance of escape, and with no end to my torment I would lose my sanity.

My brother’s fate was far harsher. He was sentenced to the region of the Nightmareland, where a temple of ice was raised as his prison. In their eyes, his doom was certain. The Nightmareland was a forgotten part of Hell, a treacherous realm even by immortal standards. Should he break free from his cage, the jagged cliffs of the Valley of the Damned would prevent further progress, leaving him at the mercy of the uncontrolled revenge that seeped through the fabric of the realm and breathed an unholy life all its own.

No sooner than our jailers left, I summoned an eclipse to shield me from the All-Seeing Eye of Heaven. By immortal standards it was a simple trick, one I had learned from the ancient Egyptians. Concealed under a veil of darkness, I tracked down the fragments of my blade and began my work anew. Broken though the blade was, its magic could not be sundered. Metal and spell were reforged to create an axe that would be the bane of the betrayers. Within its shell I poured my unchained rage. So was born Angel Cleaver.

I worried little about my brother. His blade, which was still intact, still carried within it the Hymn of Mending. Sooner or later he would escape his prison, and any injuries he received would be healed by the song of power. No, my thoughts lay with the mortals we had left behind. Heaven’s wrath had not been sated with our capture, and without us to guide them they would be easy prey.

Trapped in a land without time, we knew not the length of our imprisonment. Neither of us accepted our fate as final, but our nature began to change to suit the enclosures in which we were caged. Our thoughts once turned to the three self-doubting fallen angels, thinking perhaps they might come to our assistance. We soon put such notions aside, for they had been lost for millennia, and their apathy was unlikely to have lessened in so short a time.

Hell Frost may have been our prison, but we were not without sources of information capable of reaching us. Word reached me that Heaven has finally tired of the human race. Men had long changed the world to suit their needs, but now they endeavored to unlock the secrets of artificial intelligence. This the powerful Seraphim could not tolerate.

That God gave the world, his creation, to man only to watch the mortals destroy it was one thing, but to attempt to become gods was another. Man had been granted free will and consciousness at the instant of his creation, but now he was attempting to transfer that consciousness, the divine essence that separated him from beasts, to inanimate matter. It was a violation that could not go unpunished. Heaven decreed a flood would exterminate the human race. This would be no deluge of water, no drowning death as unleashed of old—this would be a metaphorical flood marked by the dawn of the machines. Men would be permitted to fulfil their ambitions, only to watch their creations turn on them.

The two betrayers were again ordered into the service of Heaven. This time they would pass as mortals, infiltrating the AI research team and guiding them toward Heaven’s appointed goal. The key to this would be a simple cog forged in Heaven’s workshops. Its purpose was to replace the human heart in the AI, a construct known as Syndissiah. Placed in its chest cavity and wired into the robotic core, the cog bestowed the machine with full consciousness.

I have often asked myself whether mankind would have continued the experiments had he known the final outcome. I have yet to reach an answer. The cog filled Syndissiah with the entire history of mankind in an instant—its barbaric wars, the abuse of the planet, the misuse of species man was meant to watch over, the injustices man wrought against his fellow man. The newborn entity, man’s creation in his own image, reached the only logical conclusion—mankind would have to be exterminated.

Wired into the global information network, it conquered Zion with minimal resistance. Now in full control, it initiated a full-scale nuclear strike. Within a week, the time it had taken God to make the world and the creatures that crawled upon its surface, the machine had transformed much of Zion into monumental factories. Its citizens, the people we had come to know as our own, became the raw materials it needed to create an army of biomechanical machines. The final days of the human race had dawned.

Though frozen in body, a lone thought burned in my brother’s mind—reunion with Eve. But like the last ember in a once raging fire, it was a dull glow, and rapidly diminishing. Cracks began to appear in his sanity. In his delusional state he wished for her nonexistence, to rid his mind of the nightmares of his past. Heaven may have heard his thoughts, but it chose to ignore them. His blade, buried deep in the ice temple of Nightmareland, did not.

The blade sang. Renewed strength flowed through his limbs. His frozen shackles cracked, then shattered. His mind at once turned to his heart, for his jailers had separated it from his body and buried in within the ice temple as a final ignominy.

His escape did not go unnoticed outside his temple prison. Wraiths, the spirits of angels long buried in the ice, awakened with a wail that must have caused God to shudder, for in all of eternity it had no comparison. The object of their rage was my brother, for his presence was deemed a violation of their sacred resting place. Within seconds of his emerging into the frozen hell they swarmed over him, tearing and biting at his flesh. Oh, to have seen it—my brother, a lone warrior, clutching his perfect blade in his right hand and his still-beating heart in his left, preparing to meet the onslaught with honor and courage.

He should have struck at his attackers, but he stayed his hand. Instead, he dropped his blade and raised his heart aloft for all to see. With a roar he plunged it back into his empty chest. Terror was the primary weapon of the wraiths, and now it was their enemy, for they flinched. Somewhere, deep in the recesses of their undying spirits, they recognized the courage of their old general, a being that had absolute power over his heart, mind, and body.

As one the wraiths bowed low before my brother. 616 angels fell in battle that fateful day, and now 616 wraiths swore fealty to my brother. He was the Unguided King, and the army was his to command. Now I look back, I see that our positions among men had reversed—my brother was king, and I would be his prince.

Sensing my brother’s release through the bond we shared, I dispatched a messenger to him with all haste. All those years caged, all that energy expended in trying to escape, had likely erased all knowledge of our last conversation. Before we were separated, we had sworn a final oath—to defend the human race against whatever enemy they faced. We had saved them from the tyranny of Hell’s armies long ago, and now we must defend them from Heaven’s wrath.

Oh, but the universe had changed. Hell was an impotent frozen wasteland, Heaven was aflame with insanity, and nature, which we had both come to love, was but a vague memory, so choked was it by pollution and warfare. Someone had to pay the price.

Our plan was to march on Zion, the enemy’s heart on the mortal realm, and cast down the machines and the two betrayers. With their deaths, the planet would slowly recover from the millennia of corruption that had occurred in our absence. The wraiths knew a secret passage through the Nightmareland and its razor cliffs, and they duly guided my brother onward.

At the head of the army he marched—the Unguided King. Behind him fluttered the banners of the triple solar symbols once more. Heaven reacted, sending a legion of angels to oppose his progress. Had he fought alone he might have faltered, but with his army at his side he swept aside all opposition, scattering their flesh and consuming the knowledge residing in their minds. Through the latter the army grew in strength; not in numbers, but in wisdom.

Though I had yet to stand at my brother’s side, I called forth another eclipse to shelter us from Heaven’s gaze. Let them ponder our intended destination. Let them fear that we were marching to their gates. They may not have been able to see us, but they could hear our progress, for the very foundations of the universe shook at our advance. The invasion had begun.

The secret passage took us from the permanent blizzards of the Hell Frost to the borders with Zion, for Hell of old had long connected to all mortal lands. Here, at last, I was reunited with my brother. A mortal may feel joy at returning to a loved one after many years, but his heart cannot comprehend the ecstasy of reunion I felt after millennia away.
Not all mortals had perished in the terrible war. I called upon those left to stand beneath our banner, to fight in what would be the conclusive battle. They had no fear of Heaven-sent persecution, for the shadow of the eclipse kept them safe. Drawn by the beacon of darkness, they came from the four corners of the world. Mankind had long been troubled by divisions based on creed and color, but on this day he stood united—one people, one goal.

As our number swelled I placed in my brother’s hand his new weapon—Angel Cleaver. The host of Heaven had not destroyed his other items of power—his shield and crown. Perhaps they thought that allowing them to exist, albeit under my protection, would be a further insult, for in his ice temple prison he was impotent yet aware of their continued presence.

His cyan eyes lit up, illuminating the darkness as he placed the crown upon his head and took steady grip of his shield. He spread his black wings and pointed Angel Cleaver toward Zion. Without pause, without question, the army of immortals and mortals marched to war. I cast aside the shadow of darkness, allowing the enemy to witness our approach.

The initial clash was violence previously not witnessed in the mortal realm. The machines stood ready with their formidable defenses, but we were as unstoppable as the tide. Deeper and deeper into the city we fought, recognizing it in name only. Here once stood the greatest city known to humanity. Today it was a ghost of its former glory, populated by machines served by the remnants of humanity.

As the tide flows inland, so it must eventually retreat. A thousand tides flowed as the battle swung to and fro. At some point we witnessed three stars fall from the heavens toward the earth. These were no balls of stone or ice—I recognized them at once as falling angels. Three stars fell. The three angels who once turned their backs on our cause, had obviously found a way to destroy themselves, to end their immortal existence. At last they had lifted the veil of Heaven’s dark deceit. At last they found release through oblivion.

At once I caught sight of my brother. His eyes glittered with renewed hope, for the balance must be maintained, as Heaven decreed. The ancient rule demanded three be sent to join our number. Yes, there was hope in his eyes, but also sadness, for he knew none of the three were the one he so desperately longed to see. I retreated from the battle and made my way to where the newly fallen angel had landed. Perhaps these were better suited to our cause than those they had replaced.

Fortune had indeed smiled upon us, for in all three I saw great potential. Two became my disciples; the third received schooling in the art of battle from my brother and served as his captain. I named my new followers Mercy and Judgment, for they would stand beside me as my advisors. Strange, that having witnessed a million deaths I still missed my old mortal assistants. These two would go some way toward healing that wound.

Still the war raged. A small team of wraiths, veterans of the long conflict, were sent to infiltrate the nexus of the enemy camp, from where Syndissiah, the self-proclaimed God of a new race, was controlling his force. It proved a costly use of manpower. Six wraiths, the only ones we lost in the war, died to reveal a truth we had long suspected but never dared to voice—no weapon could destroy Syndissiah, for his shell had been replaced with impenetrable adamantium. We could scour the world and eradicate every last servant of the machine god, but still the vile creature would live. Time, we realized, was not our friend. After each assault, our enemy upgraded his defenses to eliminate flaws in his previous tactics. Soon we would be out of options.

The battle continued for six years and a day. We gave up counting the number of human casualties long ago. The machines proved most adept at destroying human life, but against the wraiths they had a harder time. We mourned the passing of our human troops, but the sacrifice was necessary—at long last we hand the upper hand.

On the final day of war we faced the two betrayers. Until now they had kept to the shadows, but there was nowhere left to hide. The mere sight of them enraged my brother. I recall him charging at the male betrayer with a fury I have never witnessed, not even during our war against the forces of Hell. A lesser warrior, I struggled to keep the other occupied.
My brother struck blow after blow, a rain of steel combined with a chorus of enchanted song, forcing his opponent to his knees. As he held his axe to the angel’s throat, the betrayer begged for its life. The Unguided King looked down at the pitiful wretch and did something unexpected—he spared the fallen angel. To see it grovel with thanks was both sickening and empowering, for it was sorely beaten and yet could have been so much more.

Believing his opponent subdued, my brother marched away in search of other opponents. The betrayer rose, slashing at my brother’s wings, slicing clean through them, and pulverizing his crown. Without looking back or even breaking step, Angel Cleaver sang its hymn. Since that day I have often wondered whether the betrayer knew what his fate would be, or whether he truly thought he could kill my brother. My stupor at seeing the immortal’s head fly from his shoulders was immediately dispelled as my brother plunged his hand into the fallen angel’s chest and ripped out its heart.

Witnessing this, the female betrayer immediately fled. We made no attempt to hunt her down—an eternity of loneliness carrying the knowledge of her betrayal was a more fitting fate than death. To Mercy I gave the heart for safekeeping, while Judgment devoured the brain. My two apprentices would keep the organs within their own bodies, preventing any reconciliation.

My brother gazed skyward, waiting for what he knew must come next. Another piece of light plummeted down, blazing a fiery trail through the firmament. My brother rushed to the impact site and there…there she stood—Eve, his long-lost soul mate.

For an age they simply stared at each other, his bright eyes locked with her dark orbs. The spell was broken, they rushed into an embrace, entwining themselves in each other’s arms. It was not since the Egyptian Sin Wars I had felt such a sense of happiness in my brother. No doubt they would have remained that way for ever if they had the luxury, but there was still a war to win.

The presence of Eve and her glaives stirred something inside me. Insight into the nature of the cog and the means of its destruction flooded my mind, bestowing on me the information I needed to destroy the cog, the source of Sydissah’s unnatural life. I melted down Angel Cleaver and the king’s old blade, for both had served their purpose, and forged them into a hammer. I composed a song of power that day like never before, empowering the weapon with one specific purpose— to destroy the cog. This was Heaven’s Bane, and to the Unguided King it was gifted.

As the sun sank below the horizon, bathing the sky with the color of blood, the captain and the wraiths lead the vanguard as we stormed toward the old throne room, Syndissiah’s heart of power. The army moved to mop up the last elements of resistance, while my two disciples, my brother the king, and the new queen, Eve, and I advanced toward the final confrontation. To see Eve wield her glaives again as she dispatched the last robotic sentry between us and the machine of was a spectacle all its own. And then the end came.

Eve moved like lighting, plunging her twin glaives through the adamantium carapace, almost tearing the creature in twain as she opened a long gash in its rib cage. There, glowing like the very throne of Heaven, was the cog. My brother ripped it from the false god’s chest and placed it on the remains of the fallen sentry, an anvil for his hammer.

It is amazing even to an immortal how little it takes to end a war. With a single strike, the cog was crushed into a million pieces. There was no piercing scream, no explosion, no fanfare—just a myriad showers of tiny lights fluttering upward to ward Heaven. With an act that simple Syndissiah ceased to exist as a creature of consciousness. All that remained were the lifeless gears and wires of her artificial form.

We did not destroy her remains. These we left in the throne room as a permanent symbol of our victory. Once more I sat on the central throne of Zion, with Mercy to my left and Judgment to my right. Above us stood the statues of Horus and Anubis, erected here long ago when first I became king.

Our first visitor was not one we expected. The Archangel Adam came before us, unarmed and willing to open dialogue. Heaven was not pleased with the outcome of the war, but it had come to respect our courage and strength of will. Heaven would not interfere in our affairs, at least for now. I wish that there could have been some reconciliation, but not one fiber of my body trusted Adam.

The Unguided King and his queen chose not to remain in Zion. Much had to be rebuilt, but they sought only to make up for the many millennia of lost time. I speak truth when I say my heart was heavy at his departure, but I knew in my heart he would never abandon us—when Zion called, he would answer. Undoubtedly, I would have need of his weapons one day, for the peace with Heaven could not last. The Unguided King’s last order to the 610 wraiths that remained in his service was to make them swear oaths of fealty to the captain and me.

My forecast of another war with Heaven weighed heavily on us all. Countless hours were spent planning strategies, but everything pointed to the same conclusion—the ancient rule kept our number at seven, while Heaven could command untold legions of angels. It did not escape our notice that we were in fact six, for the female betrayer was never seen again, and since no replacement ever arrived we knew she still lived. Of course, the wraiths were an added advantage, but they were not fallen angels.

Judgment saw a solution. My brother has left us an army of immortals, and though it might take many human lifetimes, we could evolve them into fallen angels. Already in the earthly layer and under our command, they were not bound by the ancient law that stymied us. Heaven has already quailed at the thought of having six fallen angels opposed to them; the terror they would feel at facing down an entire legion would be legendary. So it came to pass, the process of evolving the wraiths was put in to place.

We eventually received word of the seventh original fallen angel. She had failed Heaven so utterly that the continued existence was a cancer. Her fate would be far crueler than anything we had endured in our exile. Naturally, she was not replaced in our ranks—by the time her demise came, our numbers greatly exceeded the ordained quota. We did not complain, for before us stood the ordered ranks of 610 dark angels.

616 angels died in the final war against Hell. Now 616 fallen angels walked the earth, ready for the eventual conflict that would determine mastery of the universe. As for the earth, so ravaged by war and diseased by pollution, it began the slow recovery. To watch nature return in such strength greatly warmed my heart. We would make sure to give it the time it needed, to fully mend.

There was nothing stopping us now.
Unguided we were.
Unguided we will be.