Chapter Eight

“I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me.  If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” Genesis 4:23-24

“You have done well.”

Folly flicked her wings out to preen them. The painful crackling reminded her she didn’t have any. She instead smoothed the tight, form-fitting leather gown she had donned after her heavenly robe had disintegrated.

“Thank you, master.”

Lucifer leaned close, his putrid, sulfuric breath stinging Folly’s nose. She discreetly turned her head and took a deep breath.

Not much fresher over here, come to think of it.

“Next time, don’t take so long.”

Folly’s head whipped around.

“It took as long as it was supposed to take! From the first thought of jealousy planted in his heart to the murder—it happened exactly as I saw it.”

She leaned close and poked his chest with her finger.

“Maybe you should back off and let me do my job.”

Silence.

Not a fallen angel stirred; all eyes riveted on the pair.

Folly forgot to breathe.

Lust slid off Lucifer’s lap and slinked away. Lucifer didn’t even notice.

Slowly, he sat back in his towering throne, eyeing Folly with an unreadable expression. His hands rested loosely on the clawed arms of the black throne.

Folly forced herself to stand strong—not break eye contact. She told herself she didn’t care anymore. She was done being cowed by the abusive monster. She was done being told what to do.

His hands stayed relaxed. Folly took it as a good sign.

“All right.” He nodded thoughtfully. “What is your plan?”

Folly kept her mouth from dropping open by sheer willpower. He was asking her?

She raised her head defiantly while tilting her head to show a degree of respect and gratitude.

“There is a man, Lamech, with a temper like Cain’s. No self-control whatsoever. He doesn’t listen to the lord and Wisdom has had no success with him. I think—no, I know I can frustrate him and antagonize his explosive temper.”

She shrugged carelessly, flicking a piece of ash from her bare shoulder.

“Who knows? The wrong person pushes him at the wrong time, and Death can enter the world just a little bit more, robbing god’s precious creatures of their long and full life.”

Folly picked at her jagged nails, making herself breathe normally as she waited for his response. Her fingers trailed and caught on a sharp edge, the raw skin tearing slightly. She winced and wished for the hundredth time that her nails would grow long and sharp like Lust’s. Then again, the girl didn’t like to get her hands dirty.

“Folly, look at me.”

She took her time lifting her eyes to his, keeping the bored expression on her face.

“I look forward to seeing what you can do.”

Her heart pounded in her chest and a smile creased her scarred face.

“You already have.”

She turned and sauntered away.

“Oh, and Folly?”

She stumbled to a halt. Fear pounded in her temples, but she lazily swatted the tell-tale mist away, keeping her back to Lucifer.

“You had better be right. I would hate to be you if you fail.”

Cackles filled the air as her fellow inmates jeered at her.

Folly swallowed hard and forced herself to take calm, nonchalant steps from the chamber.

Ducking around the corner, she gasped for air. Fear enveloped her, coating her throat, nose, lungs—skin. She angrily pushed it away but it clung to her, not letting go.

She was suffocating.

But she couldn’t die.

Rolling her head upward, she stared at the black rock, envisioning the too-bright sky above.

How she would welcome death, if the opportunity ever arose.

 

“I thought I would find you here.”

Wisdom jumped at Discretion’s soft voice. She dropped the pillow she was clutching. It landed on Prudence’s reclining couch. She smoothed the pillow, her hands lingering on the velvety softness.

“Doesn’t seem the same without her,” Discretion mused.

“No, it doesn’t,” Wisdom agreed quietly.

Their gazes traveled over the sparse room. A violet reclining couch, a full-length looking-glass, and a few luminous strategy games made of crystal were the only things in the room. Wisdom tugged both pillows straight then folded the light blanket. Nestling it between cushions at the foot of the couch, she stepped back, beside her sister.

“Is it done then?” Discretion asked.

“It is.”

Wisdom thought of the field of grass where Lucifer’s rich mansion had once been. The house had imploded with a snap of her fingers, just like every other fallen angel’s dwelling. As new creatures were born, mansions would be designed and built for them throughout Heaven. Wisdom had gone over the numbers again and again. She would never run out of space for the Maker’s creatures, not with the void the fallen angels had left.

“Come. Sit.”

Wisdom trailed Discretion and gingerly lowered herself on Prudence’s settee. She fingered the soft blanket.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Tears pooled in Wisdom’s eyes as she shook her head “no.”

“I don’t think I can do it, sis. Destroying every other fallen angel’s home was like tearing off a piece of myself. I don’t have anything left.”

Discretion reached for her hand. Wisdom clutched it fiercely.

“You’ll know what to do. When the time is right, you’ll be ready.”

Wisdom nodded and looked at the room again. There was not one ounce of personality in the room. Did Prudence mistrust her gifts so much that she never tried to develop them? Wisdom shook her head sadly. She had never asked. She would never know.

Rising, Discretion tenderly kissed Wisdom’s forehead. It was some time later that Wisdom realized she was once again alone in Prudence’s—Folly’s—old room.

Standing, she walked around the light purple couch, toward the crystalline door.

Wisdom lovingly ran her hand down the spine of Prudence’s reclining sofa one last time.

Straightening, she snapped her fingers. Gone. Every last possession of her sister’s—gone.

The gentle breeze of the outdoors teased Wisdom’s dark strands. Turning, she strode back into her home, firmly shutting the door behind her. The clear door smoothed out and morphed into the rest of the wall.

Discretion stood waiting for her at the end of the hall.

With a shake of her head, Wisdom—numb— glided to her floating chamber far above their heads. Walking to her reading nook, she wrapped her wings tightly about herself and sank into the downy cushions. Curling into a ball, Wisdom stared as the stars danced and changed colors.

The sky faded from light blue to deep purple, and still Wisdom stared.

 

“For the love, what are you crying about now?”

Folly kicked a spray of stones at Famine. Famine was sitting at the mouth of the yawning cavern, weeping and staring at the sky above.

“Think of all we left behind—all we gave up.”

Folly rolled her eyes.

“Seriously? That’s got you blubbering all over the place? Better watch who you say that to, or Lucifer’s liable to tear up that hideous backside again.”

With a snarl, Famine leapt at her. Folly gasped and struggled to get Famine’s claws off her throat.

“What do you know? You’re still Lucifer’s favorite, and you got to keep most of your pretty self. Maybe I should scratch up that attractive face of yours.”

Folly’s heart pounded. Famine couldn’t. She wouldn’t. Lucifer wouldn’t look at her twice if she changed into the horror most of the other fallen angels had become.

Releasing Folly suddenly, the hunched over Famine slinked away, settling herself at the mouth of the cave once more.

“You didn’t break your back like some of us. Go away. Your pretty face makes me sick.”

Staring back up at the sky, Famine started to wail.

Folly clamped her hands over her ears and gritted her teeth. The high-pitched whistling shook her to the core.

“Stop!” she cried.

Famine looked over at her with mournful, yellow eyes.

Folly groped for something to say that wouldn’t set her off—or get her jumped again.

“Why don’t you return if you miss it so much? I hear the master is the forgiving sort. Why don’t you leave and put us out of our misery?”

Famine stared up at the sky, quiet.

“Oh, no. He could never forgive me for what I did. Never.”

Folly turned to leave.

“He’ll never forgive you either. Remember that.”

Folly hurried away, shivers running up and down her spine. Wisdom’s words came back to haunt her. Wisdom seemed to think the maker would forgive. Of course, that was before Folly had deceived Wisdom and pushed Cain to murder.

Famine was right.

Shoving Famine’s words aside, she jumped into the air and propelled herself forward. Crashing into a briar patch, Folly untangled herself and leapt into the air again.

She barreled into a stream this time, and looked behind her. The entrance to the cave was far behind her. She shook her head and ground her teeth.

She either fluttered like an erratic moth, or barreled from place to place with a great crash instead of a smooth landing. Very few fallen angels still had their wings, but most had more than the shriveled nubs sticking out of Folly’s back.

Standing, she walked the rest of the way.

Stumbling over hills and valleys, Lamech’s tent came into view. She smiled. He had no idea what was about to hit him.

“What are you doing, daughter?”

Folly spun around, staring open-mouthed at the creator.

She stumbled back from his blinding purity and hunched over, trying to withstand his presence.

“I’m—I just—I am—”

Folly shielded her face with her hands.

I have no idea what I was doing.

He stood there, reading her thoughts, looking at her in pity. Folly knew it; she just couldn’t raise her head to see if it were true.

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

It all came rushing back. The seething hatred. The pure and utter desire for each of the master’s creatures to be destroyed. She tried to lift her chin but failed.

“Yes. I know what I’m doing. I know exactly what I am doing.”

His silence hit her harder than any words he could have spoken.

Sorrow like she had never experienced before overcame her, and she fell to her knees in the soil. Tears streamed down her face, and she gasped for breath. Wiping the tears away, she stared at her trembling hands. What was wrong with her? Another wave of remorse hit, leaving her panting on the ground.

“Do what you must. But, daughter, know this. Every action of yours I am watching and recording. You are never without Me, no matter how hard you try to escape.”

She covered her head with her arms and trembled, the rocks biting into her tender flesh.

The guilt and shame lessened. Slowly, Folly crawled to her feet and looked around. He was nowhere in sight. Longing to run after him and throw herself at his feet and beg his forgiveness overwhelmed her. She took a stumbling step forward. Fear assaulted her, along with Famine’s words.

He would never, ever forgive them for what they had done.

Trembling, she turned and staggered toward Lamech’s dwelling. It was too late to turn back now. She had a job to do. She wasn’t about to disappoint her god, too.

 

Wisdom and Folly: Sisters by Michele Israel Harper, Chapter Eight © 2014

Never Strong Enough by sara-hel on deviantART.  http://sara-hel.deviantart.com/art/Never-strong-enough-411617200

Check out Sarah Helwe’s Facebook page to learn more about this amazing artist.  https://www.facebook.com/sarahel.digital.arts

Used with permission.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.  Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

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