Somewhere, deep in the primordial mists of time and space, an angel guides a weary soul along a mysterious path. As it followed Azrael, the spirit’s embrace of the cosmic mist forged uncertainty and fear in their being. No wind blew, no voices cried, indeed nothing but these two seemed to disturb the gaseous plane. Having been reduced from a body to little more than the spark of life the soul felt a keen vulnerability much like that of a freshly molted crustacean.
They began to doubt their guide and thought that they perhaps were false and indeed a kind of hallucination or Demon meant to tote them along a sisyphusian path. The hooded figure bore no face and carried them forth in impersonal silence refusing to answer any questions presented serving only the task at hand.
It was not until sometime into the vexing journey that the angel finally stayed his course and spoke:
“Now my dear friend, before I take you to our next destination I must ask you this:
Do you fear Judgement?”
The soul, embittered by Azrael’s former evasiveness and overwhelmed by such a sweeping and personal question, remained silent for a time, Death with his everlasting patience waited until the final moments when they answered in a feeble affirmative.
“I see, now, come this way.” Death said grimly.
There was a sudden flash of light, and at first, it seemed the angel of death had gone. Seven more beings had taken his place, surrounding the soul as small stars in a crescent.
The centermost, a star of pure white which flared with violent arches spoke in a thunderous voice:
“Here now sits this soul before us
Let us calibrate the scales!”
Then, in turn, the stars began to speak. The first of which was Raphael who took the form of a golden sun not dissimilar from Earth’s:
“Once this soul knew faith,
Indeed in their youth
Their voices uttered prayer
Pleads for mercy and forgiveness.
Yet as youth faded
So did their resolve
And they rejected the name.”
Then spoke Raguel, a smoldering red ball of gas:
“In desecration they decried us!
Smote our god with contemptuous words!
Accused his laws of injustice!
Claimed in arrogance they knew better!”
He was followed by Gabriel a cool blue sphere:
“They took no value from life
Entranced by only taboos.
The shadows spoke to them
And this soul spoke back
Entreated their mysterious calls
Off of the narrow trail
To create their own.”
Ariel whose flame arced about him as mane growled:
“For a great while, they hid
The light had scorned them
Like the vampire, like the demon
It sought to smite them
To prey on them
Indeed they feared the very day.”
Cassiel, whose lights danced whimsically attested thus:
“Pain was your sovereign
Agony your unholy creed.
You found it and still you did not retreat
From shadow nor devil
As the cosmic clock
Trickled its way around to midnight
Further, you retreated from our sight
Charting lands forbidden
Connecting to them your road!”
Then Michael that silver star and the most critical of all:
“A path was laid out for man
So as to keep them from pain
Yet the soul appears to seek it
And at every pass ignored the voice
Of brother Gabriel and brother Azrael alike
Strayed deeper into the shadows
Where devils may lurk.”
The soul quivered under their might. Their judgments, their criticisms had all been heard before in another life. It suddenly felt as if they were in a nightmare, where some damnable echo chamber had formed to torment them for their iniquity. For a moment they wondered how angels could be so cruel when they were so full of grace. They wondered how the path, if so safe, is so easily strayed from. They wondered what devils might say!
Then, the last and wisest of all the council spoke:
“Now my brothers, stay your wicked tongues!
You speak with vitriol and grief for our child
Yet none of you know of hypocrisy!
You speak of their sin
As being pure iniquity
And yet you think little of consequence!”
It was the river-like voice Uriel, the bearer of all truths whose gnosis was sprung forth unto the council so as to fertilize their desolate and dreary manner of thought.
Michael then protested:
“They strayed that path,
that one route
And found shadows where the unknown lurks
They found pain on their own
And lost faith of their own.”
Michael’s callousness stirred Raphael and softened his heart:
“Now my brother, perhaps Truth is being fair
Never once did I look in the shadows
For this lost soul.
Never did I heal them in their abandonment!
I must ponder how many were abandoned
By my oversight my objectivity
How many damned wander
Where they do not deserve
When we so selfishly withhold our light?”
Raguel then intervened as a prosecutor:
“Laws are as such
And must be enforced.
Our rules were laid out for us
And no exception may be made
Not even by the almighty himself!”
Cassiel then returned and said:
“Now my rowdy brethren
Perhaps we have missed
Something vital here.
What is the manner of consequence?
Did this one not create, just as our Lord did?
Are we not a similar mold?
Do we forget how the spark of creation passes
from one unto the other?
They created joyous works
Of flesh and earthly materials
Did they not fulfill their duty?”
“Indeed, tortured as this soul may be
Wounded and crumpled
They cast not their pain unto others
No! Indeed they healed others
Comfort and solidarity,
They brought them to ease
Such as where I failed
Pain turned to Empathy, the mastery of such!
It was only then that they did not suffer!”
Ariel then spoke:
“Indeed with strength and dignity
In the face of the tumultuous shadows
They carried forth, not prey to demons.”
Michael furious at this tumultuous argument:
“Yet was it not the same shadows
Which consumed brother Lucifer?
Is it not the mystery of shade
The mastery of pain
Which led him to cruelty
And cast him unto the pit?”
“Yet here they stand
Neither a devil nor demon’s soul in sight!
You must wonder if Lucifer fell of his own
Or if simply we thrust him below
What wonder could there have been
If our brother angel was treated as such?”
“You speak blasphemy!
I will hear no more!
This has scorned us
To Hell, it goes forevermore!”
Raguel now moved by Michael’s indignation met him with his own:
“No dear brother! Your word is not the only!
Our brothers speak in turmoil
And so no decision may be made!
Due process is also law
And this discourse must yet be resolved!”
Uriel, pleased by this continued:
“You worry about faith
But what does that mean?
What is God but a name?
What are we but a brand?”
“Yes indeed, although no prayers were uttered
They carried our virtues.
They healed the sick.
Held firm and awarded upon them
That which they justly deserved,
Held true in their self
How could we condemn one so righteous?”
“Yes, yes! Now I see!
Brother Raguel I know your tender heart!
Surely you can see out of all of us
That there are those dance neither in light
For that is where you live!
That is where you work!
That is where this one followed!
They judged not the shadows from afar
But with their own senses!
And brother Michael, temperamental art thou!
Mercurial, don’t you see
That this soul is your kin?”
“Indeed I must say
I have had enough of this masquerade
We are not stars
Nor are we scions!
Brothers our nature our souls must reflect!”
It was then that the spirit of Uriel flashed and flickered. The star imploded casting its dust through the primordial lands in a red haze. Upon its clearing the angels no longer stood, Indeed there stood seven men each reflecting familiar character to the soul.
Michael most of all resembled them, almost mirror-like and in response spoke in lament:
“I see my brothers perhaps
I speak with shame
They treat us with such revelry! Such praise!
How can we ever bear that standard?”
Uriel now a wizened entity:
“We can as long as we continue this discourse!
In days of old, we taught the humans!
Now, perhaps we allow them to grant us insight!
We too are but men of God
And even then what is he?
Perhaps its because we know that
Infallibility is myth
and we forget
that is what exalts us!”
Azrael reappeared to the soul and in his wake his brothers vanished, returning to their kingdom to spread their new insights. The Angel of Death drew back his hood, revealing a kindly face of a man with a short grey beard and gentle hazel eyes. He reached his hands took hold of the spirit then spoke calmly:
“Now you see my friend, the question was not ‘Do you fear Judgement?’ But rather do you fear your own? You answered what you thought would be truthful, your one and only sin. For clearly you do not, for never did you waver in character, nor did your call upon the demons of Pride and Envy to thrust it upon others even in the direst throes of pain.
Come now weary friend, come! Your wisdom will be invaluable in the next life, just as it had been now. Come! We are proud to call you our kin!”