The war has raged on since the first cell split from the Source, and Michael and the Dragon are up to each other’s crushed necks and bitten heels in venom. Angels are bleeding, demons are holding the carcasses of their beloved wretched ruins to their breasts, and archangels fly through the battlefield armed with fiery whips and flaming swords and blazing shields. Satan has a spear and it is long and sharp and filled with the gall of death, his own dripping poison, but it smells like flowers – the kind the brothers used to walk through when they were young, when they wrestled and played at chess, now they play at war, and it such a curse to grow old and bitter when once there was no good and evil, just twins, Left Hand and Right Hand, with the Source their Queen, but now all that is left of the Source is the ichor that drains from the angels, and in Her Image is a girl with white wings and innocence and beauty.
They created her as a pact you see, perhaps as a scapegoat, perhaps for sacrifice, Virgin and Whore. She flies through the battlefield as Jophiel, Michael’s general, but also as Zophael, Heaven’s Watchman and double agent in Hell. This is not her first life, but it is no one’s first life, for the Ancient Ones spring from the Source and return to it and are spat out full-formed again with different names. Michael is the oldest. Perhaps the Dragon too. Michael always wins, but that triumph comes with the tithe, and woman’s blood is the best kind of payment.
Satan aims that spear, that long spear, and it will kill Michael. Michael is too busy being the father of the battlefield, glorious general, and Satan does not fight fair and is wily and wolf-wild. She sees the spear headed towards her creator, screams, and it pierces her heart and Michael stops smiling from that day on, or does he? He catches her dying form, she is fountains of red on an ivory gown, golden sandals drooping, blue eyes crying in a blood rain. Michael is tearing at his hair and rocking back and forth amongst the fields tilled with dead bodies and hacked off limbs and guts that smell like sulfur, smelted by swords and decay. There is no poetry in her death, just mangled wings, and Satan cries and says no, not her, not her, not the child we created between us, this bridge between Heaven and Hell, and he grabs the spear Michael has pulled from her breast and breaks it in two.
Michael and the Dragon share a look of hate. It is pure, it is ragged, it is burning. But there is duty, and there is love, and though one is the Tree of Death and one the Tree of Life, once there was a cutting from both of them and she grew curved as a pear, she was sweet, and lord knows they were idiots to bind their fates together into this dumb blonde archangel who only has a mind for poetry and perfume and flowers and love. She should never have been given a white scythe or a flaming sword, god knows she is just a child, and now her heart is mangled and she is gasping their names and clutching at Michael’s hair which she has braided so many times and reaching for Satan’s eyes and wishing they would change from their poison red to her beloved blue.
Once again Michael and Satan are fathers, and she is a child, and the last bit of archangel that the Void has not claimed as it’s master, Satan pries his heart from his breast and gives her new life. She will die as an angel, yes, and archangels are not meant to live through the Judge of God’s gall, it would even kill Michael, and Satan knows in giving up his immortality he will lose this ancient battle of Good and Evil, that his head will crush dirt and he will eat dust on his belly all his days, but for Eloa, for Sophia, for the Magdalene, for Eve, for the First Woman and Last Whore and Idiot Girl, he would swallow his own poison instead of spitting it out.
Michael knows Satan has damned her with a cursed life, a half-life, for to spring from Satan’s heart as he told her in her childhood is a raging black storm, a sword without mercy, and she will be caught in death and rebirth and madness. She dies then, and it is a meaningless death, but perhaps it means the War in Heaven is won, for as soon as they bury her body and send her off to her next life in Hell, Satan has already accepted his fate.
He bows before the Prince of Heaven. He eats dust. He lets his twin crush his head into dirt, toss him off a cliff, strip him of a manhood for a serpent tail, and now the burden of raising her in her second life has fallen upon him, not Michael feeding the baby manna dew and wild honey but Satan rocking her on his throne, princess of Hell, and when she comes to him in the reeds like Moses, Satan takes the doll and places her on a cradle, and he cries, for now her eyes are red like his, and she will never be pure again. Eidolon cleft from his ribs, he calls her throughout the ages, yellow canary in a coal mine, guiding light in hell, and her wings are gone but scars remain. She grows and runs wild in Hell and sings, and Michael hears her from Heaven’s empty throne, and he weeps, and she drinks down his tears like rain.
They were idiots to create her, after all, but brothers drunk off the cosmos place bets, and her reason for existing is a secret best kept between the Knight and the Dragon, for princesses choose the victor, and maybe they wanted to see who could win the love of love herself.