Chapter 2 - Truce
Israfel stirred within his slumber. Before, the world was filled with nothingness. It felt like this nothingness had stretched on for forever. But now he could suddenly hear voices. He grimaced. It was the voices again. They threatened to split his head open. He clutched his head and thrashed around, as if to escape from them, but he felt too weak. No… NO…!
Israfel snapped awake, gasping. His glowing green eyes were wide open now, staring up at a stone ceiling. His body was wracked with pain with his movements and he groaned. Everywhere hurt. His neck hurt, his chest hurt, his brain hurt, everywhere hurt. His eyes fluttered back closed again. The fallen angel was waiting for the pain to pass. "...Uh...ghn…!"
He heard a grunt from above him. Tiredly, he cracked his eyes open. It was a familiar angel looming above him. His eyes snapped wide again. It was the angel who nearly killed him! He veered his body backwards, but he groaned and collapsed upon the bed again. His lungs burned, and his chest felt as if a burning poker had been driven through and impaled him. He had neither the strength to speak nor move.
"You were having a nightmare," the male angel grumbled. The man backed away, never once allowing his back to face him, then sunk back into his seat on the other side of the room. A book was at his side. It had been what he had been reading before the boy suddenly started thrashing.
Israfel coughed, then coughed again. Blood began to drip down his chin. It was a dark, almost pitch black, gray. It was too painful to speak.
Tharrun looked up at him, then stated coldly, "It would be wise not to undo my hard work." Nevertheless, despite being so cold, he came to a stand and moved to the boy's side to offer him treatment again. He cleaned up his chin as well as looked over his neck to see if it had reopened again. The seraph cursed under his breath. He needed to change the bandages already. They were soaked through with black.
Through the haze, Israfel cracked his eyes open to see what was going on. It hurt too much to speak. However, even if it didn't, he was too exhausted to. His wounds had taken their toll, and he had lost a lot of essence. It was a surprise he had any left.
Tharrun finished changing his bandages, then marched back to his seat. He thudded into the chair and grabbed his book grumpily again. It was evident the older angel wasn't happy with housing a corrupted angel within his cathedral. But, at the same time… he couldn't shake off the image of fear within the boy's eyes. He frowned within the depths of his hood. He was growing old and soft. The corrupted one could have pounced on him with the openings he gave. Demons did like to rely upon trickery…
The seraph's gaze averted to the boy again. The wounded angel had been sleeping for a few days. Often times he would thrash in his sleep, and he would have to pin him down before he ended up hurting himself. Was he trying to fight off the darkness? Well, even so, the corrupted angel would be leaving as soon as he recovered enough to walk. He had already outstayed his welcome, if there was any in the first place.
Israfel stared at the ascetic out of the corner of his eyes. He had so many questions and no way to relieve them from his mind. His throat was too broken for that. So, he found himself settling his head back and trying to answer them himself.
The cathedral was old. It looked abandoned from the outside, but the inside was very lived-in. Bookshelves lined the walls, a desk rested near where Tharrun sat, and the bed he was on lied in the opposite corner of the room. He could only presume the other angel had actually settled here, and not just for a temporary mission. Was he just like him? But, he couldn't be; the ascetic held an obvious disdain from his presence. Was there some other reason? His eyes moved to peer at the wings on the angel's back. They were a broken light, torn to shreds and held together only by rough bandages. Maybe he had no choice BUT to stay here.
"I would prefer it if you wouldn't stare."
Israfel grimaced. The other angel was looking up at him now… It was likely to make sure he wasn't concocting his demise. The fallen one couldn't help but sneer. He would be on edge too if he had an enemy in front of him. But, more questions surfaced. Why had the man taken him in if he despised him so much?
The angel sighed, then closed his book. His patience was running thin, but there was still a sliver left. "I am sure you have many questions, but I would advise you not speak. Your throat is halfway torn through."
Israfel's eyes moved downcast, then away to the opposite wall, absentmindedly brushing his hand against the bandages. This wound was his mark to bear. It was the price he had to pay for his freedom. The wound on his chest, well… He could only chalk it up to his own carelessness.
He could remember the battle within the Archangel of Wisdom's office. Of course he would; how could he ever forget? It was his first mission after associating with the forces of Hell, and where he supposedly died. He was tasked with infiltrating the Heavens and tracking down an injured Archangel, but everything went wrong when the Archangel of Fate caught wind of their plot. Itherael was surprisingly adept in combat. Israfel's fists clenched tightly when remembering their battle. That sword had really hurt. He would make him pay once he gets off of this bed!
Tharrun noticed the boy's expression when prodding at his wounds, but said nothing. Instead, he got up from his seat and decided to be merciful. He grasped a spare sheet, then dipped a quill into an inkwell. He moved over to the boy's side. "I can't keep calling you 'filthy demonspawn' if you're going to remain here for as long as you are. So just write me your name. Do not dare attempt to speak," he pressured.
"..." Israfel glared at the paper, and then at the man again. Then, hesitantly, he slowly reached for the paper and quill, relinquishing it from the other angel's hands. He stared at the parchment fibers. Normally, an angel would state their name and then their affiliation, and vice versa. However, now he had none. He would cut off all ties to any side. So, he wrote down the only thing he truly knew at this point.
Tharrun retrieved the paper and quill once the boy was done. He peered at the page to see what he had written.
Though it was only a name, the angel could not help but become lost in thought with his answer. It was a… surprisingly fluid name. Then again, angel names tended to be. But, what surprised him most was how he still held onto it, even with the extent of the corruption in his body. He didn't hold it with pride, didn't add any unnecessary titles. It was just… there. The angel suddenly shook his head to rid himself of these thoughts. He was overthinking things. "Very well." That was all he wanted to know.
Israfel's glare intensified when pointed at the angel. The angel asked for his name, but he wasn't going to give his own?! Angrily, he thrust his finger at the angel. He needed to know the name of the one who defeated him!
Tharrun balked at Israfel's behavior, then growled. "Do not test me, boy!"
Israfel let out a frustrated exhale through his teeth. He wasn't getting it. He pointed at the paper, then at the angel. He just wanted his name!
Finally, Tharrun understood. The man searched his frame with his eyes, then sighed. He supposed it would be unfair not to grace the fallen one with his own name. He didn't want to, but, for etiquette's sake: "...It's Tharrun." Nothing more, nothing less. That is how it should be.
Tharrun… So that was the name of the one who defeated him. He settled back into his pillow. However, he had lost when he was heavily injured. He snickered to himself. He would have to get a rematch when he was healed.
Tharrun couldn't tell exactly what the boy was thinking, but he didn't like it, whatever it was. He frowned, then marched back to his seat once and for all. There was work to be done. He organized his papers, then resumed reading.
Israfel watched the other angel silently. What was he even working on? What was the point? They weren't in the Silver City. They weren't in the Heavens. So, why? Was he just a workaholic? The corrupted angel wouldn't do a lick of work if he didn't have to. He couldn't understand the other angels. It was as if they feared some sort of deity would strike them down if they stopped. Well, that was none of his business.
His injured body tensed, then he coughed. He hacked and wheezed, more essence trailing down his chin. He grimaced and shuddered, trying to calm down his body by keeping it still, but it wasn't helping. It only made the pain worse. However, he shakily wiped the blood away to show he could deal with it. He didn't think he could handle another string of insults or scoldings for something he couldn't help. His temper was short in that aspect.
Footsteps. Ugh, so he was getting up again. He grimaced when the other angel loomed over him. Would the scoldings come? More pain; he growled and clutched his chest. He wheezed, sweat dribbling across his brow. He felt so disgustingly weak. More blood fell down his chin. Dammit…
Tharrun opened up the boy's robes to take a look at his chest. The long wound was bleeding again. His coughing had jarred it too much. He could see the boy eyeing him apprehensively. The boy was probably wary of what he would do. He sighed, then snaked his arm behind his shoulders, careful not to bump against his neck. "I'm going to need you to sit up."
Israfel grimaced, then sat up carefully with Tharrun's help. He tried to bear the pain, but he was in a lot of it. He hissed when his chest held another assault of stings. He bit his lip hard to silence his cries. The stab wound was long and in the center of his chest. It was no easy task to stop the bleeding either; the bindings had to be really tight.
For once, Tharrun softened. He placed his hand upon the boy's shoulder comfortingly, if only to help him calm down. He had to change the bandages. Israfel said nothing, his head drooped and arms supporting his body. Though it was always dark within the depths of an angel's hood, Tharrun could see the glistening sweat on his forehead with what light there was in the room reflecting upon the droplets. The fallen one's breaths came out in wheezes. It was evident he was in a lot of pain. The older angel should treat the younger quickly.
The man unwound the bandages around his torso to take a look. Israfel shuddered when his wound was struck with the chilly air. The boy bit his lip further. His pride screamed for him to keep his body under control… but the sensations of agony were too strong. He couldn't control it. He let out a whimper.
Tharrun balked. Even when the boy was having nightmares, he didn't whimper like he did in this moment. He looked to the boy's face, then at his battered body. Israfel's frame was strong once, but now a long cut existed there which pierced his body through. His fall from the atmosphere left a number of bruises across his body, but they weren't as severe because his wings were unharmed. However, it had done little to help his condition, as bad as it was originally. He should treat him quickly.
While the older seraph dabbed at the darkened essence to wipe it away, he couldn't help himself. He let out some comforting words. "Shhh… It'll be over soon. I'll make quick work of it.* His touch was as gentle as he could manage while he cleaned it up and rebound it again.
Israfel let out some grunts in the process but did his best to hold his tongue. His wing tendrils squirmed behind him. His eyes stung, but he refused to allow them to flow forth like they did before. He gritted his teeth. He would endure.
The ascetic finished up tightening the bandages, earning another grunt from the fallen angel. "RGH!" Israfel gripped the sheets tightly, teeth grinding together unhealthily. When they were tied off, his grip began to slack, and he was left breathing heavily.
Tharrun glanced up at the corrupted angel's hood to see if he was faring alright. However, he found a different expression than he was expecting. The other's eyes, of which still glowed slightly (a little less than during their battle), looked tired. However, even before Tharrun looked up at him, he was staring right back at him. Somehow, the ascetic could read what he was thinking:
"We are at a truce. For now."